The Vocabula Review

November 2008, Vol. 10, No. 11 Saturday, October 25, 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:

bemuse
Pronunciation: \bi-'myüz, bē-\
Function: transitive verb
Date: 1735
1: to make confused: puzzle, bewilder
2: to occupy the attention of: distract, absorb
3: to cause to have feelings of wry or tolerant amusement "seems truly bemuseed that people beyond his circle in Seattle would be interested in his ruminations" — Ruth B. Smith

Of these twenty or so dictionary definitions of bemuse, only the charlatans at Merriam-Webster maintain that bemuse also means "amuse." And Ruth B. Smith, who cannot even seem to spell bemused correctly, is no authority on this matter. Of course, in her sentence, bemused might as easily mean "bewildered." In what the impostors at Merriam-Webster would have us believe, we can have little faith indeed.

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

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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