« Grammar and Writing - Tools for our Children | Main | Highschool Yearbook Memories »

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Word Collector


Yep, that's me, I'm a word collector.  I love words.  If I'm reading or writing, you can be sure I have a dictionary and a thesaurus close at hand.  It's what I do.  It's my thing.  Frustrating is having a lousy dictionary and thesaurus on my computer which is where I need it most, so I find myself seeking out my big, heavy books - you know, the real books, not the digital ones, to find my answers.  Not that that is a bad thing, I just like convenience, and if it isn't at my fingertips, it's not convenient.

In his book, “A Man of My Words” (St. Martin’s Griffin, 2003), professional linguist Richard Lederer, writes, “An old dictionary is like a whalebone corset, a button-hook, spats, or a wad of Confederate money --nice to have around but of little practical use. Unless you’re a collector, replace old dictionaries with ones published within the past 10 years at least.” Alarmed, I ran around the house looking for a current dictionary.  What I found, upon close examination, was my American Heritage Dictionary (4th edition, 2001): heavily creased spine, torn cover, stained pages, soiled plastic covering, and no missing pages - or at least I don't think any are missing.

So, last week I went trudging around the web looking for a superior alternative to the crap that was on my computer, and in my lap, and what I found was eReference.  I have always believed that I would never be the writer that I want to be, or the communicator that I strive to be without a better grasp of the English language.  It's the perfectionist in me.  It's the Mensa in me.  I always have been a word geek.

geek  (g*k)
n. Slang
a.  A person regarded as foolish, inept, or clumsy.
b.  A person who is single-minded or accomplished in scientific or technical pursuits but is felt to be socially inept.
2.  A carnival performer whose show consists of bizarre acts, such as biting the head off a live chicken.
[Perhaps alteration of dialectal geck, fool, from Low German gek, from Middle Low German.]


Now to confess my very strange ways to the masses - I keep a word journal.  I collect words.  Whenever I read a really great word or hear it used verbally, I jot it down in my little leather-bound journal.  Then, I try to integrate it into my everyday speak and in my writing.  Many times I'll come across a word that I recognize and wonder why I don't use it more often.  So, even if I know what it means I'll jot it down to burn it into my brain.  (only to be forgotten by the next day because I'm getting older and those things happen).  Actually, now that I think about it, I wonder if I'm doing this because I'm afraid of losing my mind?  Maybe I've already lost my mind and just don't know it yet.  Well, I don't care, I'm going to collect my words regardless of how crazy it seems.


When I came across this eReference program I was happy to discover that it was the American Heritage Dictionary and the Roget's Thesaurus all wrapped up into one.  Oh, and it doesn't end there.  It has more goodies - for instance, if you are on the internet and you come across a preeminent word that you want to know its meaning, then all you have to do is highlight the word and click on the little A-Z icon on your desktop and right before your eyes is the definition and all sorts of other good information.  Pretty cool, eh? 

So, I would like to share this wonderful and glorious program with all of you.  All I need is for you to define the word "weisenheimer" in the comments below.  And, if you are really ambitious, how about also defining the word "dulcinea." 

This contest will end at 4pm Friday afternoon EST.  And, I will choose a winner at about 6pm EST.  There is no sponsor here, it's my gift to you because I love you all.  I love your comments.  I live for your validation.  I travail for your approval.  I indite for your pleasure.

The winner will receive an unexpurgated digital volume of the American Heritage Dictionary - Fourth Edition, and Roget's II, the New Thesaurus.  It is compatible with Windows and Mac.  That's because it's a smart program.

Now, get crackin'!  (Such a good choice of words, don't you think?)

Time's Up Everyone!  I hope you enjoyed this little contest for a computer goodie.  I like anything that makes me smarter - because to tell you to the truth, I seem to be needing more resources every day.

Okay, I have a winner.  I decided not to wait until 6pm because, well, I'm sick as a dog and so congested I could peel wallpaper with this stuff.  I know - gross. But I'm keepin' it lively here - and honest.  I've gone through about 4 boxes of tissues.  I do believe I need to empty the trash can sitting next to my pillow.  

And the winner is ..... drum roll please (but not to loud because I already have a headache)


And, when I count down the OMG thousands! of entries I had in this contest!  Woo!  I swear we almost crashed the servers over at TypePad! 

The winner is ....  (thank you for keeping that drum roll soft by the way)

KATHLEEN!  (and no, this is not "my" daughter Kathleen, as I already put this on her computer, so she's set) - this is another Kathleen, a wonderful Kathleen, how do I know these things?  Because she reads my blog you stinkers!  If you read my blog, you are branded as "wonderful" from the get go - especially if you comment.  hee hee.

CONGRATULATIONS KATHLEEN!  Email me at susan@raisin-toast.com and tell me what kind of computer you have (Windows or Mac) and I will send you instructions on downloading the program and activating it onto your computer.  Let me know if you have any trouble and I'll contact Houghton Mifflin and ask them "what's the deal?"  You shouldn't have any problems, though.  Oh Lord, I'm such a mess this week.

  • Etsy

Improve your Vocabulary! Look up any word in my favorite Dictionary and get sample sentence usage as well!

  • Subscribe to Raisin Toast

    Enter your email address:

    Delivered by FeedBurner

The Official SAT Question of the Day™

  • A Site for You