My affinity for old dictionaries should be no surprise to Wordmonger followers. Sadly, I can find no Old Dictionary Appreciation Day, Week, or Month, so I’ve decided to unilaterally proclaim the first week of May “Old Dictionary Appreciation Week.”
An element I greatly appreciate in older dictionaries is the “synonym” feature which closes the occasional entry. This feature takes similar words or terms & parses out the shades of meaning. Here are two synonym entries from my 1959 Webster’s New World Dictionary:
“Intelligent implies the ability to learn or understand from experience or to respond successfully to a new experience; clever implies quickness in learning or understanding, but sometimes connotes a lack of thoroughness or depth; alert emphasizes quickness in sizing up a situation; bright and smart are somewhat informal, less precise equivalents for any of the preceding; brilliant implies an unusually high degree of intelligence; intellectual suggests keen intelligence coupled with interest and ability in the more advanced fields of knowledge.
Laugh is the general word for the sounds or exhalation made in expressing mirth, amusement, etc.; chuckle implies soft laughter in low tones, expressive of mild amusement or inward satisfaction; giggle and titter both refer to a half-suppressed laugh consisting of a series of rapid, high-pitched sounds, suggesting embarrassment, silliness, etc, but titter is also used of a laugh of mild amusement, suppressed in affected politeness; snicker is used of a sly, half-suppressed laugh, as at another's discomfiture or a bawdy story; guffaw refers to loud, coarse laughter.
Is that poetry, or what?
Good followers, what bits of dictionaries do you fancy?
My thanks go out to this week’s source, Webster’s 1959 New World Dictionary of the American Language
I write for teens & tweens, bake bread, play music, and ponder the wonder of words in a foggy little town on California's central coast.
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