Tag Archives: dictionary

We Never Wordplay Anymore


It was a love of precise description that brought them together, but it also tore them apart.

This nerdy little comic is a sort of a riff off something I drew in August using the same banged-up copy of Webster’s 9th for reference. That book is about 30 years old, and my Roget’s model is even older: that one has my mom’s name and “Room 209” written on the first page, and my mom stopped teaching for a long time after I was born, meaning the thesaurus is at least 40. I like the idea of them being an old married couple, but it’s hard to believe they’d really split up. They absolutely go together. They even line up perfectly in juxtaposition on the bookshelf and I’m pretty sure that Roget is going to go back to Webster after taking a few days to think about priorities and remember their shared love of linguistics and wordplay.

I’m not totally sure how the arms are attached. If I were a better cartoonist these books would have more and better extremities and possibly some kind of faces, and Webster would be in a La-Z-Boy, but I need photos for reference because my mind’s eye is more turned toward words than images, and couldn’t quite picture how a hardcover book would fit into a recliner.

It’s probably only funny if you’re the kind of person who reads dictionaries and thesauruses for fun. Which I do. Clearly, there must be others.

Dictionary Definition

You lack both the language skills as well as the perceptive capacity.

You lack both the language skills as well as the perceptive capacity.

I won this particular copy of Webster’s 9th New Collegiate Dictionary in the 8th grade, when I won the all-school spelling bee on the word “forfeit.” It’s been with me a long time, and the cover is askew from years of abuse. Now, of course, I usually use the Internet, or sometimes the lovely but cumbersome “Compact” Oxford English Dictionary, which was a gift from the Fox. It’s the one that has 9 pages printed in minuscule text on each oversized page, and come with a fun magnifying hemisphere.

As for defining other people: the dictionary is just doing its job, after all, when it offers definitions. I’m not sure what’s up with people who think they can define total strangers who don’t want and haven’t asked for their opinion. There are the critics who insist on telling other people what their gender or sexuality *really* is, and the ones who explain the life experience of people from different economic classes, and even the ones who say, “Well, I can easily do XYZ, therefore everyone should easily do XYZ and if they don’t they’re lazy and deserve to fail.”

The solution, of course, is to shut up and listen. It’s not easy. When you have your own, perfectly valid perspective, you don’t necessarily see the need to hear someone else’s point of view. Personally, I think that empathy is one of the things that separates us from wild creatures. If you lack the ability to put yourself into another person’s shoes, the DSM would probably define you as having antisocial personality disorder, more popularly known as being a psychopath., If you have the ability but choose not to exercise it, I’d love to know how you define yourself. Also, how you live with yourself.

Unfortunately for me, I seem to have come across a great many of these people online lately.