NEW YORK, Oct. 14 /PRNewswire/ -- On October 16, people everywhere will be putting decorations on their dictionary trees, hiding dictionaries for dictionary hunts, proudly flying their dictionary flags, and going door-to-door reading dictionary entries aloud for candy. Well, no. October 16 is National Dictionary Day, but the celebrations aren't that elaborate or widespread. Yet. Established to commemorate the birthday (in 1758) of American lexicographer Noah Webster, Dictionary Day is celebrated mostly in schools, where teachers use the day to emphasize the importance of dictionary skills, with activities that include finding the longest word in the dictionary, creating classroom slang dictionaries, and playing Scrabble(TM). If you're not in school, how you can celebrate Dictionary Day? Erin McKean, the editor of the New Oxford American Dictionary, has a few ideas to help grownups get the most out of the holiday AND your dictionary. -- Dictionaries aren't only for desks! Use Dictionary Day to install dictionary software on your cell phone, pda, or computer. (The New Oxford American Dictionary comes with a CD that lets you install the entire dictionary-more than 250,000 entries and definitions-on your smartphone!) -- Improve your vocabulary. Grab a sticky note or a little pad of paper and track, just for one day, how many unfamiliar words you find in your reading. How many words you could look up (but don't) in a day? How many new words could you learn in a year if you did just look up a few unfamiliar words every day? If you've put a dictionary on your phone or PDA, try looking up a few random words as you wait in line -- did you really know what they meant? -- Do a dictionary taste test. If you got your dictionary in college or high school, have your tastes changed since then? You might want to do a "taste test" to see if the dictionary you have still suits your needs. Head to a library or large bookstore and look up the same word in two or three similarly-sized dictionaries. Choose a word you recognize and understand but that isn't too common (macabre or exuberant would be good choices). Read through the definitions and etymologies and check the pronunciations: which dictionary feels best to you? Which is the easiest to use, read, and understand? A reference is only worthwhile if you feel comfortable enough with it to actually use in on a regular basis.
SOURCE Oxford University Press