Friday, October 19, 2007

Just Because It's In The Dictionary . . .

. . .Doesn’t mean it’s really a word.

The Oxford English Dictionary takes four pages to note words that aren’t words; “List of Spurious Words” they are called.

Deporture -- 1611: “Her stately port and majestic deporture.” We beg your pardon, ladies and gentlemen, but this word exists not. Someone in the 17th century committed an error with the word "departure," and we beg your forgiveness.

Banket -- 1846: Error for “Banker, a piece of wood about eight inches square and nine feet in length, on which to cut the bricks.”

Munity -- 1648: Error for “Mutiny,” explained as “security, freedom.” “Devotion doth rather compose the munity then infringe the true liberty of our true affections.”

Exiled -- 1577: “Slender, weak.” Error for “exile: meager, scanty.”

Yes, “ain’t” is, indeed, in the dictionary; at least, in the Descriptive (“here’s how the language is being used”) dictionaries, if not in the Prescriptive (“here’s the words you should be using and how you should be using them”). It might be noted here that the Merriam-Webster people would hand-write the most vile English words for their file, rather than expose them to the female typists.

1 Comments:

Anonymous ruthc said...

It might be noted here that the Merriam-Webster people would hand-write the most vile English words for their file, rather than expose them to the female typists.

If they only knew what words the female typists used when they weren't in mixed company!

October 19, 2007 9:54 PM  

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