Gather 'Round the Lexicon - Sunday is Dictionary Day!

Oct 14, 2005, 01:00 ET from Oxford University Press

    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
     -- 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