Happy Dictionary Day, You Logophiles!

I don't have much to say about Dictionary Day other than the fact that I am a logophile and I am happy that I live in a world where I can freely read dictionaries. You know how I feel about the censorious twits that want to ban books for the "sake of the children" or some such nonsense.

Sadly, a few years ago, some nanny nincompoop tried to ban the Merriam-Webster Dictionary for its definition of oral sex. Yes, that is correct. Oral sex was defined aptly, but it was too much for some dimwit parent. Perhaps the parent would prefer the definition for oral sex to be described as "a playful puppy prancing through dandelions." Or simply get rid of the entry entirely, which is the WORST THING EVER.

Dictionary Day is about the celebration of words. It's about the celebration of word discoveries and word etymologies and the words that comprise our languages. You see, censorious twit parental unit, language is how we communicate. Language is how we live. Without words, we don't have language. Without Merriam-Webster's definition of oral sex, I would be a goddamn hermit.

Okay, that's not entirely true, as it perhaps hints at an alternate history that reflects two potential scenarios: one in which I was a ladies man (I was most certainly not); and one in which I spent time reading about the definition of oral sex (I did not). You know, just forget the hermit reference. It doesn't matter.

More to the point. If we don't have words, we are lost; we are without language. The parent that wants to ban dictionaries, listen up: Your kid is going to figure out what oral sex means (and is!) because that's what kids do. And most importantly, because that's what humans do. We learn. We discover. We have oral sex (ew). We communicate. We define.

Erin McKean said it best, in a Boston.com article from a few years ago on Dictionary Day:

So we should expand our thinking about dictionaries. Language is power - we understand that words can move us to tears or laughter, inspire us to great deeds or urge us to mob action. Dictionaries are the democratization of that power, and the more words they contain, the more democratic they are. The dictionary is a gigantic armory and toolbox combined, accessible to all. It reflects our preoccupations, collects our cultural knowledge, and gives us adorable pictures of aardvarks, to boot. And it does all this one word at a time.

That is beautiful. And so true.

So, on this Dictionary Day, consider our language. And stand up to the censorious twits that want to take it away.

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Noah Webster published the first dictionary in 1828.

Noah Webster published the first dictionary in 1828.