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Swellboy on… the demise of the dictionary

Another pleasure vanishes, killed by technology

Swellboy on… the demise of the dictionary

Image: Brijesh Patel

September 14 2010
Nick Foulkes

I was saddened if not surprised by the news that the Oxford English Dictionary may well soon cease to exist in print form and just be available online. A pity, as part of the joy of looking something up, even in the arm-breaking two-volume “Shorter” dictionary, lies in allowing the eye to wander across the page and come across strange words.

The other day I came across a word that encapsulated the meaning along the lines of “cheek visible when viewed from above”; of course I can’t remember what that word was, but it amused me at the time. And amusement is obviously a part of the lexicographer’s makeup; after all, Johnson’s dictionary described a stock jobber as “A low wretch who gets money by buying and selling shares in the funds” and defined Monsieur as “A term of reproach for a Frenchman”.

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