Perspectives On…(Merriam-) Webster’s Dictionary

dictionary

Dictionary, schmictionary, who needs one? Have you ever used a word incorrectly or heard someone else use (or write) a word that was close but not quite the word? No doubt we have all been embarrassed by this faux-pas. I am more likely to sing the wrong words to a song, rather than say or write the wrong word. I firmly believe it is because my name, Webster, may be related to the dictionary itself. Am I related to Noah or Daniel? Who the heck knows…most likely neither, but I’ll take Noah since I am a writer (why not?). I do have a reputation for being great with words; reading voraciously will do that to you. But, I digress…

I have several people (RWGs = random word generators) in my life who have a penchant for saying the wrong word; just right enough that I can figure out the word they mean, as I delicately repeat back the real word as a question.

Here is a great example:

Joe (name changed to protect the RWG) shared with us a time when his room mate, Matt, moved out and had left some items behind. Matt’s family came over to collect these items. Joe described how the family members walked by him, and not really looking at him or acknowledging him, walked into the bedroom to the get the items. Joe exclaimed, “They were so astute!” So I asked in my delicate way (trying hard to bite back a grin), “you mean aloof?” The other person with me, upon hearing this and put it all together, laughed uproariously. We still joke about it to this day, often times misusing astute and aloof on purpose. I guess you had to be there.

As a professor, of course I grade LOTS of college essays, and I am continually amazed at the words that get written down. Unless the student phoned it in, so to speak, I doubt “autocorrect” could be to blame.

So with the new technology, can we just agree to disagree that when words are mixed up and wrong that the Random Word Generator struck again or autocorrect was to blame?

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10 thoughts on “Perspectives On…(Merriam-) Webster’s Dictionary

  1. Wrong word usage can be funny or embarrassing, depending on how you want to look at it. Autocorrect though, that can be downright mortifying. I was once responding to a students email from my phone when autocorrect decided it wanted me fired or something. Thank God I reread the email before sending otherwise I would have had to explain to a student (as well as the dean) that I swear I meant ‘social experience’ and autocorrect changed it to ‘sexual experience’ 😣

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    • Thanks, Chris, it is sad and funny but too true. This post was about my brother in law. I have to think that because he speaks three languages, his words could get a little mixed up. It is awkward to correct people, but as writers isn’t that our destiny?? LOL!

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  2. Communication is the key. Meaning. Use whatever silly words you want. Still, I would like to use the correct word, there are so many choices, but I’m not going to be judgmental about it, and I thank whoever invented it for spell check.

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