Word of the Day

Few people today pick up dictionaries. I’m talking about a dictionary in book form—front and back covers holding thin parchment pages full of words and their meanings.

It’s easier to download an app and type the word in question. Book dictionaries had one plus over apps: When we looked up a word, there was always a chance we would be reeled in by another word and then another.

With so many words up and down and all over the pages, how could we resist the temptation to skim the masses?

Dictionary apps are handy for looking up definitions—quick. Like their predecessors, they boast every word imaginable. 

The problem is we see only the word we type. We don’t think of looking up anything additional. If we did—oh, no—we might be required tap the screen an extra time or two.

It appears, though, that dictionary apps want us to visit longer. In a folder called “Reference” on my phone, I have a thesaurus and two dictionaries.

In the past couple of months, when I open either dictionary, I’m now treated to “Word of the Day.” Maybe this is not a brand new development, but it is new for me because I only recently noticed it.

Word of the Day succeeds in tempting me to open my dictionaries more often. I’m curious to see each morning’s word. I’m waiting for the day they choose the same one.

Like checking the daily weather forecast, I open Dictionary.com, inspect its word, and then check its competitor, Oxford Dictionary of English.

I secretly rate the apps according to whether or not I like their designated words.

On January 8, Dictionary.com won—hands down—with “stardust.” Oxford’s “high-tar” (disgusting stuff produced by cigarettes) could never compare to anything as lovely as stardust.

On January 28, dictionary.com nearly lost ground with “earworm,” but the word is not about worms in one’s ear, not even close. An “earworm” is “a tune or a part of a song that repeats in one’s mind”—like a catchy jingle that gets stuck in your head.

I disqualified Oxford’s January 28 word because it was not a word. It was an initialism that stands for a phrase. Suffice it to say, dictionary.com won the day by a lobe.

Oxford made a comeback later that week with “pot-bellied pig” because pot-bellied pigs are cute. I doubt they are always obsequious, which happened to be Oxford’s word.

An obsequious pig is dutiful and obedient.

Word of the Day achieves its purpose when it comes to me. It is the hook that lures me to further investigate my dictionary apps. An article on one of my two dictionaries informed me of “Words (and Phrases) that will Show Your Age.”

I knew about walkmans, mood rings, and pet rocks, but I’m far too young to bring them up in conversation.

I have never frequented a “Fotomat” or used the word “wet-blanket.” I haven’t, don’t, and will never—as in ever—say, “Up your nose with a rubber hose.” 

I don’t call a sofa a Davenport, but my grandmother did. I never called anyone a “fuddy-duddy,” but my aunt did—often.

Ok. I guess I have said a “Goodnight, John-Boy”—in jest—a time or two, but I could claim to have only seen The Waltons in syndication, which would be a lie. 

A lie is a false statement with intent to deceive.

Various dictionary apps boast interesting reading fare for anyone willing to give them a try.

My personal Word of the Day is “judge,” as in maybe I should stop judging my apps by their words of the day.

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