Tuesday, January 04, 2005

Lexiconic Archaeology: Time to Buy a New Dictionary

Who would have thought that a casual glance at the back of my paperback dictionary would cause me to think its time to look into retirement centers? I keep a couple of dictionaries at my desk, but the big hardback one is too cumbersome to take down from the shelf when I'm preparing vocabulary tests or attempting to prove a family member wrong about their pronunciation of a word. When I got this dictionary, it was fake leather-bound and had a matching thesaurus and came in a little case. It was a wedding gift from the owner of the answering service (another clue to its vintage) where I worked at that time. It has long since been liberated from its "leather" prison, but for some reason I never read the back until yesterday.
It boasts:
*The only paperback dictionary based on the up-to-date, continuously maintained Webster's New World citation file. Many entries, including those below, do not yet appear in any other paperback dictionary:
bait-and-switch laid-back sleaze
beefcake lithium carbonate soaper
biorhythm magnet school streetwise
blow-dry motocross stir-fry
blue flu nerd Sunbelt
blusher paralegal tank top
chemosurgery parenting videodisc
DWI prioritize off the wall
glitzy scuzzy whirlpool bath
health food out of sight wing it
househusband slammer zit

At least that explains some of my moral failings. During my childhood, parenting and health food had not yet been invented, nor was I able to prioritize. Interestingly, despite the absence of zits, I was still able to develop a good many of them. I'm afraid I was a nerd: just ahead of my time, I guess. And wouldn't you know; just as I was getting married, beefcake appeared on the scene.
I also know now why I waited until middle-age to take paralegal courses. And because I am a good English teacher, here is my source: Guralink, David B. (ed.). Webster's New World Dictionary of the American Language. Fawcett Popular Library: New York, 1979.

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