The Vocabula Review

January 2008, Vol. 10, No. 1 Saturday, December 20, 2014


Mock Merriam
Web version
 
We are gigantic, enormous idiots. And don't you say ginormous because that's not a word. — Emerson on Pushing Daisies

Merriam-Webster's has added nearly one hundred new words to the 2007 update of the eleventh edition of its Collegiate Dictionary. Among them is the word ginormous, a synonym of the equally loathsome, equally silly humongous.

Combining "gigantic" and "enormous," ginormous is a word for which we already have a great many synonyms. It's easy to create synonyms of readily understandable concepts like largeness.

Better than new, ill-defined words for simple concepts like largeness would be new words for less easily understood or less often encountered concepts like bravery or justice or truth. Having more synonyms of words such as these may, over time, affect people's behavior and increase the occurrence of bravery, the spread of justice, or the value of truth.

Ginormous is a silly slang term that does nothing to improve our understanding of ourselves or our world. What's more, some people, simple though the concept of large should be, apparently have trouble understanding the word:

• Those looking through the new edition of Merriam-Webster's dictionary will have a ginormous list of new words to learn.

• It was a ginormous year for the wordsmiths at Merriam-Webster.

• She gave her mom, Kathy, a ginormous hug before the hotel entrepreneurs sped off to their Bel-Air mansion for some quality time together.

• But I have one ginormous point to add.

The 2007 update of the 11th edition of Merriam-Webster's includes the inanity ginormous, but it does not include the far more interesting alethiology.

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

Mock Merriam.

More Mock Merriam

Thank you for your submission! This entry has been added to Merriam-Webster's Open Dictionary:

fiske (verb) : 1. to rail against dull-witted lexicographers and descriptive linguists. 2. to point out unconscionable stupidity. 3. to battle mercilessly and relentlessly; to attack. 4. to be criticized by Robert Hartwell Fiske.

• He fiskes Merriam-Webster with his monthly "Mock Merriam" column.
• They've been fisked.

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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