The Vocabula Review

December 2008, Vol. 10, No. 12 Friday, April 29, 2016

Mock Merriam
Web version

The eleventh edition of "America's Best-Selling Dictionary," Merriam-Webster's Collegiate Dictionary (Frederick C. Mish, editor in chief), does as much as, if not more than, the famously derided Webster's Third International Dictionary to discourage people from taking lexicographers seriously. "Laxicographers" all, the Merriam-Webster staff reminds us that dictionaries merely record how people use the language, not how people ought to use the language. Some dictionaries, and certainly this edition of Merriam-Webster, actually promote illiteracy.

Consider the following entry from the 11th edition of Merriam-Webster's, and perhaps you, too, will mock Merriam:

Function: conjunction
Date: 12th century

1 a: at, in, or to what place <knows where the house is> b: at, in, or to what situation, position, direction, circumstances, or respect <shows where the plan leads> c: the place or point at, in, or to which <couldn't see from where he was sitting> <kept that horse and gentled him to where I finally rode him — William Faulkner>

2: wherever <goes where she likes>

3 a: at, in, or to which place <the town where she lives> b: at or in which <has reached the size where traffic is a problem> <two fireplaces where you can bake bread in the ovens — Randall Jarrell>

4 a: at, in, or to the place at, in, or to which <stay where you are> <send him away where he'll forget> b: in a case, situation, or respect in which <outstanding where endurance is called for>

5: that <I've read where they do it that way in some Middle Eastern countries — Andy Rooney>

Though Merriam-Webster's fifth definition (meaning its most recent definition), where in the sense of "that" is insupportable — at least among those who understand that how they speak and write is a reflection of who they are and how they are regarded. The laxicographers at Merriam-Webster support the insupportable.

Merriam-Webster's promotes the misuse of where, but it does not include the far more interesting and useful cyanope.

Merriam-Webster: no longer "your assurance of quality and authority."

Mock Merriam.

More Mock Merriam

Do you find fault with an entry in the 11th edition of Merriam-Webster's Collegiate Dictionary? Tell us what it is.

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