National Dictionary Day: a holiday for word-lovers
By Lia on October 16th, 2012
A few months ago, we spilled our geekrets (i.e. geeky secrets) here on OOM, but there’s something I forgot to mention: I’m a total word-nerd. Vocabulary, grammar, spelling, punctuation, sentence structure– you name it, I love it with a fervor that would make WordGirl herself proud. Needless to say, I was pretty excited to find out about National Dictionary Day.
Fittingly, National Dictionary Day is held on October 16 — the birthday of word-lover Noah Webster. Until the publication of his American Dictionary of the English Language in 1828, all English-language dictionaries had come from England. These days, the Merriam-Webster Dictionary is practically a household name. And so, in honor of National Dictionary Day, I wanted to provide some word-nerd food-for-thought.
- It took Webster 27 years to write An American Dictionary of the English Language. Ultimately, it contained approximately 70,000 words and their definitions, 12,000 of which had never been in any dictionary before!
- Did you know “nerd” is an all-American word?! Check out this list of 30 Great American Words to test your knowledge of vocabulary that originated in the United States.
- I don’t know where punctuation got a reputation for being nerdy, considering it’s actually super trendy. Just as styles change each season, punctuation marks come and go. (Before we know it, people will probably be saying things like, “That semi-colon is so 2010.”) Fun fact: early manuscripts had no punctuation at all. No wonder some experts argue that punctuation is a disappearing art.
- Are our children learning enough grammar in school today? Check out this debate from The New York Times and be sure to weigh in in the comments below.
- The ampersand — now a commonly used symbol –was actually once a letter of the alphabet. Two other extinct letters ? The thorn and the wynn.
- Scholastic has a bunch of great titles for budding word-nerds, including Punctuation Celebration, Punctuation Takes a Vacation, and Punctuation Power. (I may or may not own all three…)
Are you a word-nerd? Tweet us your favorite facts using the hashtag #wordnerd!
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