The Vocabula Review

May 2008, Vol. 10, No. 5 Thursday, October 30, 2014


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:


odiferous
Pronunciation: \o-'di-f(ə-)rəs\
Function: adjective
Etymology: by contraction
Date: 15th century ODORIFEROUS

Odiferous, called a variant spelling in some dictionaries, and not an entry in others, is actually a misspelling of, and incorrect for, odoriferous. Very likely, odiferous derived from, and endures because of, people's failure to pronounce all five syllables.

Merriam-Webster's promotes the misspelling odiferous, but it does not include the far more interesting and useful philodox.

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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