Today began badly. Being a man who uses words often and with pride, I took exception to Ruth’s list of the “100 recommended words” that she printed for me to see. This insidious word list purports to fatuously list the hundred words that the American Heritage Dictionary recommends, “…every high school graduate should know.” The first 2 words on this list were abjure and abrogate. By the way, I went back to my very first blog “Irish Christmas” to see if all 2,075 of them are still available, and thanks to WordPress they are. I also must let you know that 2 of the 3 words above in sentence #3–insidious (proceeding in a gradual, subtle way, but with harmful effects) and purports (appear or claim to be or do something, especially falsely; profess) and fatuously (derives from the adjective fatuous, which means silly)–are not on the American Heritage Dictionary‘s list. Homogeneous is.
I have not used a book-style dictionary for years. It’s far easier to access websites like Merriam-Webster to check on the spelling and definition of hard words like diarrhea. I know that Noah Webster Jr. was the creator of the first American dictionary, but I had no idea who Merriam was so I looked him up. George Merriam was a publisher. He came from a long line of similarly inclined family members in Massachusetts. In his family were printers, book manufacturers, and book sellers in the 18th century. Merriam established a publishing house in Springfield, MA to print law books, books about the Bible, and school texts. Lawsuits followed. One of his smartest moves was to buy the right to publish Noah Webster’s dictionary. By the way, it seems to me that more books are published now than ever before, and word skills have never been more important as people spend their days texting, emailing, twittering, and facebooking.
It has never been more important to define, use, and spell words. Among the most commonly not-spelled-correctly words are such demons as accommodate, colonel, conscience, misspell, and zucchini. It is quite ironic that misspell is one of the most misspelled words in the English language. The Oxford Dictionary, however, says that the most misspelled word is publicly. People often misspell it publically. Go figure. There is a definite difference between words in England and words in the USA. The British spelling of diarrhea is diarrhoea. The word publically that I used 2 sentences ago was underlined with dots to tell me that it was misspelled. The most misspelled word in American English is quarantine.
I did not know until today that in 2003 Merriam-Webster began publishing a list that includes the word of the year. The word selected is usually the most looked up word on Merriam-Webster’s website. In 2003 that word was democracy. In 2020 the most looked up word, surely to no one’s surprise, was the word pandemic. I wonder what 2021’s most looked up word will turn out to be?
Access https://refdesk.com/100words.html to see the complete list of words that every high school graduate should know.