So this pops up on my timeline today.
— USA TODAY (@USATODAY) April 23, 2019
And quite frankly, I’m pissed off. I started thinking about what a dictionary actually is. When I was a kid, it was something we had in our classroom and teachers would make us look up words and learn how to use it for various activities that taught us how to…… well, I don’t know what they taught us, but the book held the secrets of the English language.
Popular past times with my and my mates (shoutout to the UK lads) included looking up words like boobs, fart, and penis in the dictionary. We would have a good laugh and I would go back to trying to get Stacy Neidermeyer to kiss me on the playground or scheming up ways to trick some poor sucker into trading me his Caprisun for my carrot sticks at lunch.
It’s funny because the older, more buttoned up looking dictionaries tended to have all the dirty words, while the sleeker, book fair editions omitted such filth as human body parts and sexual activities.
Today, I really don’t know what the dictionary is up to. It’s low key fell off since the internet blew up and it’s kind of been replaced by the cooler Urban Dictionary. After searching ‘scrotum’ and ‘feces’ became too vanilla, the Urban Dictionary provided definitions for things like ‘the alaskan pipeline’ and ‘the angry pirate’ that satiated my need for vulgar definitions.
The dictionary in its current state, tends to be referenced by dumb people on facebook who say “look up the word collusion” when they’re losing a political argument. It’s also used by high school valedictorians who like to start out their speeches with stuff like:
“Webster’s dictionary defines friendship as The state of being friends; friendly relation, or attachment, to a person, or between persons; affection arising from mutual esteem and good will; friendliness; amity; good will.” It works for them because these poor kids have no life experience and they only became Valedictorian because they had no lives outside of studying, which would have given them interesting anecdotes to draw upon for a quality speech. Definitions are great for filler.
Or even like this
You get the point. I would guess that the fellas and ladies working over at Merriam Webster have a pretty cushy job. After all, the English language is already working out pretty good.
However, it is still a job. I imagine every quarter, Ms. Merriam Webster walks into the office and says, “okay gang, you’re doing a great job of keeping the dictionary alive and well, but I’m afraid our numbers may be declining as people begin to favor thesauruses more.”
In a panic, Mr. Barnsen Noble flips through his notes and realizes that he’s spent the better part of the last three months expending trips to Vegas and doing absolutely no work. “Uh, yeah, I’ve got a few words. How about lit, clout, and juul?”
“Dammit Noble, you’re a genius.”
I guess the shift to adding words which have etymologies that can be traced back to the last decade in rap songs, Fortnite, and twitter is a shallow plea for relevance. They get their headline every year and then, uhhhh, I guess they sell more dictionaries? I don’t know man, I don’t think I know a single person who owns a dictionary. Next time you go over to your buddy’s house, ask them where they keep their dictionary. They’ll probably tell you they keep it next to their VCR player.
I think the problem I have with the dictionary taking these words is that they now put them into a box. So if one region or group of people uses a word that other groups are using, and its similar in nature, but still has differences, who is Merriam Fucking Webster to say what the true definition is? Here’s an example:
babymoon, n. (informal): a relaxing or romantic holiday taken by parents-to-be before their baby is born; a period of time following the birth of a baby during which the new parents can focus on establishing a bond with their child.
That’s fine. Kinda weird, but it’s fine. Why would want to go around with your significant other when the woman has swollen feet and is craving pickles dipped in frozen yogurt? Even for a woman, why would she want to go on vacation with her husband, who has probably put on daddy weight? I went on my honeymoon to the Bahamas and my wife and I met a couple who claimed they were on their babymoon. The woman was chain-smoking Camel lights and chugging Patron, while her husband was strutting around the pool showing off his New England Patriots tattoos, blacked out on Jim Beam and Coors Light. They said they were getting everything out of their system before they went on a Jamba Juice cleanse and prepared to bring life into the world. After they asked us if we were swingers and had any hookups for cocaine, I took some time to reflect on their use of the word ‘babymoon.’ It’s not the Webster’s definition, but who’s to say they’re wrong? Sure couldn’t be me. And I don’t think it should be the corporate fat cats at big dictionary either.
The final qualm that I have is the future of education. For all intents and purposes, a scholarly essay can now include words like:
• derp, exclam. & n. (informal): (used as a substitute for) speech regarded as meaningless or stupid, or to comment on a foolish or stupid action.
• food baby, n.: a protruding stomach caused by eating a large quantity of food and supposedly resembling that of a woman in the early stages of pregnancy.
• jorts, pl. n.: denim shorts.
Can you imagine?
The Oxford College of Medicine conducted a scientific study, where they held seven derpy subjects and fed them Taco Bell in order to obtain empirical evidence of how big their food baby could get before needing to unbutton their jorts.
Fuck man.. that’s not a world I want to live in. There’s even words that are added for absolutely no reason because they contain other words that are already defined.
• pear cider, n.: an alcoholic drink made from the fermented juice of pears.
Yeah, no shit dude.
I can get as angry as I want, but this is just how it is. So for that reason, I guess I’ll petition for a few words of my own to be added into the dictionary.
Amateur – a delineation of pornographic art, which is filmed for the enjoyment of lonely people, by divorcees and college age girls whose fathers lowered the limit on their credit cards
Moral Hangover- The feeling that you did something awful while consuming large quantities of alcohol the night before.
Fetch- If all those other words can go in the dictionary, we can give this one to Gretchen Weiners