Dictionary Day is a great way to honour the basic tool of all writers – the dictionary – and the man who created it’s North American version: Noah Webster.
Dictionary Day takes place every year on the anniversary of Noah Webster’s birth: October 16th, 1758.
Webster published his first dictionary – A Compendious Dictionary of the English Language – in 1806. His master work, the American Dictionary of the English Language, took him over two decades to complete.
Along the way, Webster taught himself 26 different languages so he could better understand the etymology of the words he defined.
He also became the editor of the Federalist Party newspaper, a prolific author of both newspaper articles and political commentaries.
When Noah Webster died in 1843, the rights to his dictionary were acquired by George and Charles Merriam, and the Merriam-Webster Dictionary was born.
A Learning Opportunity
When I originally wrote this article, I planned to focus on learning a random word and definition using the website RandomWord.com.
Then Arie Intveld wrote a lengthy comment in response to my commentary on O’Keal Brown: The Face of Canada’s Problem with Guns.
It’s rare I get stumped by a word, but Arie definitely succeeded when he used the awesome word “Quockerwodger” in his reply.
I reached for my copy of Merriam-Webster’s dictionary and, much to my surprise, could not find the word. Since I knew Arie is a smart human being, I turned to the Interweb and discovered the following:
Quockerwodger: (Noun) A wooden puppet controlled by strings.
The term QUOCKERWODGER, although referring to a wooden toy figure which jerks its limbs about when pulled by a string, has been supplemented with a political meaning. A pseudo-politician, one whose strings of action are pulled by somebody else, is now often termed a QUOCKERWODGER.
By this definition, Justin Trudeau can rightly be called a Quockerwodger. So can every member of his Cabinet, for that matter.
Words have meaning, I always say, and what better reason to learn a new word and definition than National Dictionary Day in honour of Noah Webster!
Whether you use your copy of a physical dictionary or RandomWord.com, I encourage you to pick a new word, learn what it means, and share it with me in the comments section below.