My Dictionaries


This is a picture of my bookshelf taken with a bad camera in poor lighting.

You’re welcome.

Someday I would like to fill it up with classics, all of them worn and annotated, but for right now, this is it: some self-help books, a devotional, a couple books in Latin that I probably won’t ever translate (yes, I could translate them if I chose–I am classically educated), and a few books that I am too old to be reading but am definitely still reading.

And four dictionaries.

See them stacked over there to the side? Yup. Those are all dictionaries.

I would like to talk about them a bit.

Roget’s International Thesaurus

(Disclaimer: I don’t know why it’s international.)

I don’t remember where I got this. Probably from Dad. In any case, I like it. Synonyms from beginning to end. I’ve written many a poem and paper with this beside me, until I realized that flipping through three thousand pages of 8-point font is really difficult compared to

But I still love it. It has a better selection than, and you never have to worry if your internet’s moving slow. You don’t even need Wi-Fi for it.

All you have to do is carry around a five-pound book. Convenient and easy.

Also, it smells good. You know, that old, musty book-smell. Like a well-loved library.

(Bonus: the word vellichor means “the strange wistfulness of old used bookstores,” which is strangely applicable. It’s one of my favorite words.)

Webster’s Ninth New Collegiate Dictionary

Pretty much the same as Roget’s Thesaurus, except it’s a dictionary. I feel pretty much the same about it, too.

I realize that these aren’t super interesting.

Just wait a minute.

The next ones are better.

The Flip Dictionary

Here we go. This dictionary is “for when you know what you want to say but can’t think of the word.”

Don’t we all hate that.

To use this dictionary, you have to have it on-hand when you can’t think of the word you’re trying to use. Which is why I don’t use it nearly as much as I wish.

But if you do have it on hand when you can’t think of that word, all your problems are solved.

For example: if you want to seem like you know a lot about sailing, but you can’t remember that term that sailors use for people who don’t know a lot about sailing (which would be *ahem* you), then you can look it up in your handy-dandy Flip Dictionary.

You would look up “sailing, person unfamiliar with.”

And there it is: landlubber.

Or, if you can’t remember what those crunchy things in the salad are called, you look up “salad, toasted bread square in.” Crouton. Problem solved.

It also has tons of synonyms listed, so if you’re thinking of a certain word that means “danger,” but it’s not danger, you can scan the synonym list until you find it.

Also, it has lists throughout of different things, like “herbs,” “musical instruments,” and “Japanese terms.”

So if you can’t remember what that little dwarf tree is called, you can scan “Japanese terms” until you get to bonsai.

This dictionary has it all. I wish I used it more often.

The Indispensable Dictionary of Unusual Words

Believe it or not, I use this dictionary more than the others.

It’s exactly what it sounds like.

“Over 6,000 obscure and preposterous words to know, learn, and love.”

And I love it.

This is the dictionary I used when finding words for the poem I shared with you in my post on meter the other day.

Wamble–to feel nauseous

Frangible–breakable, fragile

Pleonexia–covetousness, avarice; mania for acquiring possessions.

Placophobia–fear of tombstones

Do you ever need to know these words? No, no you don’t. But they’re fun. And often hilarious.

One of the best things about this dictionary is all the phobias in it. Placophobia is just one of many. Pretty much every letter has a phobia or two in it.

Of course, you can also go to the Flip Dictionary for a comprehensive list of types of fears.

(Bonus: the word mayophobia means “fear of salad dressings.” So now you know.)

The Electronic Dictionary

These are great. They have definitions and synonyms and sometimes little games like “hangman.”

So they’re basically smart phones.

Kidding. They’re not. But they are extremely convenient. More convenient, believe it or not, than lugging around Roget’s International. (Cool people cut out “Thesaurus” and just call it Roget’s International.)

Electronic dictionaries are best for annotating. In fact, they’re more convenient for annotating than any other type of dictionary, including the Internet. In my opinion.

So . . . I don’t actually own one of these.

Well, I did once, but then it broke. So now I need another one.

Because, obviously, I don’t have enough dictionaries.

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