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1:31pm on Tuesday, 23rd June, 2020:

Page 119


Here's a page chosen at random from my mother's copy of Everybody's Pocket Dictionary, a perennial favourite read of mine.

This dictionary is full of weird definitions. Look at the one for Franc, for example; compare Fortieth with Forty. Some of the definitions, such as those of Foul and Foxglove, require a knowledge of words more obscure than the one being described. There's also a cavalier attitude to generality and specificity (compare Fowl and Fox). I particularly like the definition of Fortify.

The last three definitions are like a three-act play.

I could have chosen pretty well any page to show you — it's packed with delicious not-quite-rightness. The previous page defines Forearm as "to arm beforehand", which is correct but completely misses the possibility that it could mean a part of the human body. It defines Ford as "a place where water can be passed". The word Form, referred to on the page I've scanned and several times in definitions on the previous page, has no definition of its own. Even some basic words, such as Water, have no definition in this dictionary.

It has pride of place on my bookshelf.

Incidentally, the final definition in the dictionary is pertinent to the present: "Zymotic — relating to epidemic or contagious affections".

I'm going to the ford now; I think I drank too much tea earlier.

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Copyright © 2020 Richard Bartle (richard@mud.co.uk).