Farewell to a Dictionary
Her spine is bent. Her skin, wrinkled and faded. But inside, the words still ring true.
About thirty years ago, my parents, Charlie and Betty, gave me a hardback edition of "Webster's Ninth New Collegiate Dictionary."
It was in celebration of my first published short story in the Mark Twain Essay Contest sponsored by a truckers' tabloid.
Maybe it was a not-so subtle hint, a new dictionary for a new writer. But I took it as encouragement, and have relied on it while writing newspaper stories, blogs, poems and novels.
And she never let me down. She never misspelled a word, or muddled a defintion. Before spell check, she was keeping the i before the e, except after c, for me.
Alas, she shows her age and is ready for a bookcase back seat. And although she still holds great command of the English language, our vocabulary continues to evolve - many words have been added since the early 1980s.
The new kid on my desk is "The Oxford College Dictionary." She is off to a fine start, helping me for instance with "hors d'oeuvre," which sounds much more refined than "snacks."
But before I deliver the grand old dame to the recycling bin, I had to look up one last word.
Infallible: adj incabable of error . . . not liable to mislead, deceive or disappoint.
Fred Afflerbach, The Southpaw.
Cedar Park, Texas