Wednesday, December 20, 2006

450,000 Wasn't Enough For Me

There's always someone who needs just one more. 450,000 isn’t enough; 450,001 is.

One day, a few years back, I was curious about a common slang word that appears only in print. It’s the lighthearted reference to the mayor’s title, “His Honor,” often spelled “Hizzoner.” I wondered when it came into the language and so I checked the Merriam-Webster Collegiate Dictionary. The editors indicate the date each word joined the language.

Alas, this word was missing. Their unabridged dictionary has 450,000 entries and I wanted to know about the one word they did not list. “So,” you might ask, “who cares?” Well, “Me,” I might respond, “I care.”

The MW dictionary people get about 2,000 requests each year for word inclusions. Few people follow up with any kind of research; fewer yet keep at it to completion. You are reading the writing of one who did. Once. Never again.

I had people looking at newspapers all over the country, magazines of all types. I went through reference books that covered any topic, including children’s in-school movies. Nothing was safe. After collecting about a hundred citations, I had shown the word was used over a long period of time, in various media, spread around the country.

450,001 is the number I needed and now the dictionary is complete. I rest contented.


Blogger Cold Josh Vail said...

Yep, I remember that. another plume in your trivia hat, which must be as full on the outside as it is inthe inside..........

December 22, 2006 6:19 AM  

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