Tuesday, January 18, 2022

What's in a word/expression/locution?

Today, this present day, is Nationwide Wordfinder Day. (Chambers)

It could also be called Civic Wordstock Period. (Roget)

Otherwise known as National Thesaurus Day

It's named in honour of Peter Mark Roget who was born on 18thJanuary, 1779. He began working on his thesaurus in 1846 and  the Thesaurus of English Words and Phrases Classified and Arranged so as to Facilitate the Expression of Ideas or Assist in Literary Composition was published in 1852.

These days I tend to use Word's thesaurus for ease, but above my desk, along with my Chambers Dictionary I have my Chambers Thesaurus, but hidden away on the shelf above is my original Roget's

It's an edition published in 1962 which makes me think it is indeed my original copy. When I was growing up, two of the more senior executives in the bus company where my mum worked as secretary to the General Manager, used to give me a Christmas present every year, often a book, and I think this was one of my gifts.

Husband and I were talking when we were walking George about the fact that most houses, when we were growing up, would have a dictionary and an encyclopaedia of some sort. Husband said he was regularly given such presents by his aunties and uncles because he 'was the clever one who was going to grammar school.'

I'm not sure whether either of us appreciated such worthy gifts but I did love browsing through my thesaurus, a magical lexicon, bursting with words I'd never dreamt of. I don't use it enough these days. I am inclined to stick with my safe words, especially wary of using words, even in writing, when I'm not sure how to pronounce them.

It was comparatively recently that I discovered that awry is pronounced a-rye rather than ow-ree.

And while we're talking words, does anyone use 'one' rather than 'you' these days? 


Debra She Who Seeks said...

I remember when Roget's Thesaurus was on the desk of every student and writer! I do occasionally use "one" instead of "you," but it always sounds pretentious to do so. But I only use it if there's a danger that the reader might take "you" personally.

Boud said...

I think one is pretty much always pretentious. Except I expect the queen is okay with it. Better than her using we all the time!

We had a big dictionary in our house always and I remember my amazement when I discovered everyone didn't. Also a set of encyclopedias. Even the poorest people would try for a dictionary. And a piano, however out of tune and ancient. Working class cultural imperative, especially if you "won the scholarship" and went to the posh grammar school among those rich kids!

pam nash said...

I had a Roget's Thesaurus that I used in high school and college. Then, my oldest daughter took it away with her to college. It was well used and much loved.

Cop Car said...

Even before my parents bought us Grolier Encyclopedia of Knowledge, my paternal grandmother had Compton's Pictured Encyclopedia in her living room. Elder Brother and I spent many hours enchanted by those volumes - which volumes are at my fingertips as I input this comment. Also at my fingertips are The New Oxford American Dictionary, McGraw-Hill Dictionary of Scientific and Technical Terms, and various other reference books. I am frequently thankful that my family taught me to love reference books.

One does use "one" when one wishes to show her erudition!

P.S. We purchased Encyclopædia Britannica for our own daughters.

Ole Phat Stu said...

As in : the baker uses overemphasis for "One doz." ;-) ?

Kathy G said...

I probably still have a paper thesaurus, but now I always use an online one. Often.

LL Cool Joe said...

Yes I grew up with a thesaurus. Used it non stop when I was at uni. Now of course I use it online.

Liz Hinds said...

Good to know we're all of like minds.