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gailcalled's avatar

Who uses his dictionary on a regular basis? What was the last word you didn't recognize?

Asked by gailcalled (54448points) August 12th, 2011

Just now, reading a review of “The Help,” I came across Manichaeism. So I learned what it meant. A good word to have in my armamentarium. (Look it up.)

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51 Answers

Blondesjon's avatar

Actually, thanks to this question, I now know what one of these dictionary things is.

Quite a helpful little compendium.

JilltheTooth's avatar

Ooh, @gailcalled , what a great word! I recognize most words, but if they are wildly out of appropriate context I look them up to see how they could possibly fit. I found “funicular” in a cookbook recently, and I finally deduced that it was a spell check event gone badly wrong.

lucillelucillelucille's avatar

I still have my gold embossed dictionary I won in a spelling bee sitting on the desk across from me.I use it once in awhile but if I am online I will look it up that way.
The last word I looked up was
Denotes a close understanding between certain nations. It suggests mutual and complementary efforts, and a sense of compatible objectives. It can be agreed on orally or in writing, but as a concept is generally less binding than a treaty relationship.

RealEyesRealizeRealLies's avatar

OK I’m going to play a game with myself here and try to define Manichaeism without looking it up, and then see how close my pseudo def compares.

One who embraces manic behavior and considers it to be a useful pursuit.

goes to look it up

Hey! Whaddaya’ know! I was right!

rebbel's avatar

I knew armamentarium!
We have an army museum in the city where I live. link

Yesterday I looked servere up in the dictionary, but I found out what I already thought, it should have been severe (it was used in the wording of a question here).
I use dictionaries every day, not only to search for descriptions but also to be sure I spell the word that I want to use right.

dappled_leaves's avatar

I use it occasionally, mainly if I’m looking for a less-obvious definition, a nuance that won’t be found on the internet, or for etymology. I will use the google to check spelling from time to time – I almost never use a dictionary for that anymore.

marinelife's avatar

I use my dictionary all the time!

LostInParadise's avatar

The last word I looked up was Gaia. I knew about the theory, but I wanted to know where the name came from and how the word is pronounced.

The definition at Merriam-Webster online only defines the theory, though it gives the Greek word that it derives from. only gives the mythological definition and gives a different pronunciation from that of the theory.

I suppose James Lovelock, the creator of the theory, is entitled to pronounce it however he wants. I wonder if he was aware that his pronunciation differed from that of the name of the goddess.

plethora's avatar

Ignominy….....and armamentarium

lillycoyote's avatar

The last word I remember looking up was remoulade. I was having lunch with someone and one of the sandwiches had a remoulade sauce on it and I couldn’t remember exactly what kind of sauce that was so I looked it up on the dictionary on my iPhone.

gailcalled's avatar

@lucillelucillelucille: Remember your French verbs: entendre means to hear or to understand. Hence entente and hence, entente cordiale

There is also, détente, from détendre,, to stretch or loosen.

This trick does not, however, work with content (v).

@rebbel; Your knowledge of and skill with English leaves me still in awe.

@LostInParadise: Perhaps Manacled is one who embraces manic behavior.

ucme's avatar

I generally only use one when helping the kids with their homework.
One word I recently discovered was Contrafibularity.

picante's avatar

I use the dictionary often, mostly to battle my atrocious spelling. Yesterday, I looked up “lagniappe”—I knew I had seen the word on occasion but could not recall its meaning.

If interested . . . (lan-YAP) is a small gift given to a customer by a merchant at the time of a purchase (such as a 13th donut when buying a dozen), or more broadly, “something given or obtained gratuitously or by way of good measure.”

TypoKnig's avatar

The last word I had to look up was “discombobulate.” Not because I didn’t recognize it, but because I was pretty sure the person wasn’t using it correctly.

I was right.

flutherother's avatar

@picante It’s also the name of a newspaper that circulates in the Mobile area.

picante's avatar

@flutherother that’s a cool name for a newspaper! The local journalists’ gift to the masses, no doubt ;-)

janbb's avatar

Someone used the word “interstitial” and I don’t know what it means.

gailcalled's avatar

Look up interstices.

ratboy's avatar


gailcalled's avatar

^^ NIce one.

janbb's avatar

Oh – I know what “interstices” means; it derives from that?

peridot's avatar

It was in another book, but I encountered the word “iatrogenic” for the first time. It’s an ironic term: “of or relating to illness caused by medical examination or treatment”.

gailcalled's avatar

I have not thought of “iatrogenic” as being ironic. I had an iatrogenic infection over a lumpectomy incision; it seemed pretty straightforward to me. While in the hospital the incision became infected from bacteria floating around.

omg_dung's avatar

I love serif, lunula, and ellipsis…

ratboy's avatar

“Mundify” is the word of the day at

peridot's avatar

@gailcalled It initially struck me as ironic because you undergo medical examination or treatment to become healthier, not sicker. I feel the same way about side effects for drugs… not unsympathetic toward those who suffer from them, but the idea as a whole. Like eating cheeseburgers and chocolate cake to lose weight.

john65pennington's avatar

Unfortunately, I looked up my last unknown word in the wrong dictionary.

I used the Scrabble Dictionary, instead of my American Heritage Dictionary.

The word was spelled the same, but the meanings were a little different.

ratboy's avatar

From Dr. Johnson’sDictionary:

Network: Any thing reticulated or decussated, at equal distances, with interstices between the intersections.

Reticulated: Made of network; formed with interstitial vacuities.

linguaphile's avatar

I use a dictionary at least once a week- mostly to check spelling. The last words I looked up were the ones from that word-test some of us took around 2 weeks ago. :)

Hibernate's avatar

I use them often enough. The last word I looked and remember is hard to spell [I’m to lazy to look for the correct version now]. I think it’s something like “anacronism”.

MilkyWay's avatar

I don’t remember the last word I didn’t recognise, I read a lot so there’s quite a few.
The dictionary is my little bud, it’s even come with me on holiday :D

filmfann's avatar

Yesterday I read a comic which pointed out that there is a difference between gorilla and guerilla (as in warfare). I always thought it was just gorilla warfare, with a british spelling.

Jeruba's avatar

I use my dictionaries nearly every day and sometimes several times in a day. For quick checks I look online, but at least as often I go to one of the big, heavy ones I keep on hand, OED or Webster’s Third or American Heritage IV.

I can’t remember the last word I didn’t recognize; that happens pretty rarely. But I check frequently for etymologies, and occasionally for pronunciation (especially when it’s become a point of debate between my husband and me). Sometimes I just browse; I love dictionaries for their own delightful selves.

By far my most common use is to verify a precise meaning or shade of meaning before I use a word myself.

lemming's avatar

Ya I use my dictionary alot too, but alot of the time I don’t remember the word anyway:/

The last word I didn’t recognise was ‘clement’...from this prayer

gailcalled's avatar

@lemming:If someone had written about inclement weather, would you have understood what the writer meant? I would guess that you might have. Clement is the antonym. (a lot)

@Jeruba: I used to read volumes of the Encyclopedia Britannica and/or the dictionary in bed after hours.

lemming's avatar

@gailcalled to be honest it just reminded me of clementine :)

Jeruba's avatar

How about a plea for clemency? Clement means showing clemency.

@gailcalled, me too. As a youngster I often snuggled into the big gray chair in the living room, the one with the wide arms so I could sit crosswise, with a volume of the Britannica in my lap.

Dr_Lawrence's avatar

I rarely come across a word whose meaning is not known to me. I guess this is a benefit of being over educated and having read widely on many subjects and knowing several languages (some much better than others).

Or I may just might be acting like a pompous ass.

Roby's avatar

insoucian <- Last word looked up.
As a somewhat of a writer, ( Want a be that is) I love my dictionary. Use it a lot.

gailcalled's avatar

@Roby; I congratulate you for using the dictionar .


If you want to be a writer, which is a good thing, forget the “a somewhat of a.” Just write.

tomatrondroid's avatar

My dictionary is literally my most used tool. Maybe not literally – but it’s up there. I love words, and the english language; as stupid as it may be at times. Writing is a passion of mine; and journalism is a posable career path for me one day. To answer your question; Sphygmomanometer is the word I most recently was stumped by; and it had a rather trivial meaning. However, mainly due to it’s epic longness, I’ve tried to use it several times since. I try not to use big words too often though, it often portrays you as a ‘troll’, or ‘know-it-all’, as do lengthy paragraphs like this. I try to write in a format, and register that people will understand, and empathise with. Usually, like now; I fail. I resort to a formal register with overuse of punctuation, and emphasis on correct grammar.

Went a bit off topic there. Anyways; Dictionaries=Win. :D

bikerwannabe's avatar

When I read on my Kindle I use the dictionary all the time. I love how easy/immediate it is.
The last word I looked up was KRAKEN.

Rheto_Ric's avatar

I didn’t know that the kindle had a dictionary function, but that makes a lot of sense. Might buy one now.

The last word I didn’t know, and have yet to look up the meaning to, was ‘brio’.

gailcalled's avatar

If you are a musician, you have a leg up.

“Con brio” means to play with spirit or vigor.

GracieT's avatar

Being more familiar with root words, prefixes, and suffixes of words was one of the greatest benifits of studying Latin in school as well as my years of music. This was one of the greatest benefits of both.

GabrielsLamb's avatar

I recognize most words and know their meaning, it is rare for me to come across a “New” word. My problem, and the reason I look them up is spelling. I’m a bad speller because I type so fast, I sometimes spell things out from head to hand almost phonetically. It is weird, and I don’t know why it happens but it does.

Last word I found that I didn’t know was…Tacit. Which would figure I wouldn’t know that particular word. LOL

gailcalled's avatar

@GabrielsLamb : You have my tacit approval (well, not exactly) of your wish to improve your writing. (Watch out for those common nouns that are not capitalized, such as new and tacit. There is a convention for emphasizing them.)

And look at “weird,” a word whose spelling trips up millions. You got it right.

GabrielsLamb's avatar

@gailcalled Really? People mispell “weird” I mispell, “misspell” alot… which is typical for me.

When I need to write something the right way I do; like a paper with all the correct bells and whistles but on threads like I said, I tend to type so fast I kind of execute it the way I would as if I was speaking rather than writing.

*If that makes any sense? I don’t believe that proper grammar and punctuation actually reflects the spoken word very well in all honesty, not the way that I talk anyway.

Again, I have no idea why? It just happens but in the very least, believe it or not I do realize my grammar and punctuation mistakes. *I have a college edumacation, I promise I is smart… LOL

gailcalled's avatar

No debate here. Doing a little editing helps your reader to understand your point and not get distracted.

I am not talking about either grammar or punctation (well, there are all those ellipses) but convention and usage.

What does the use of * indicate? And what does “edumacation” mean?


GabrielsLamb's avatar

@gailcalled I’m Sorry about that, me and my damn ellispes. I do love them very much! I got the bad habit from none other than Hunter S. Thompson believe it or not? Uncle Duke was notorious for blatent abuse and misuse of the ellispes.

You do know that the following was a poor attempt at humor, right?

”*I have a college edumacation, I promise I is smart… LOL”

Am I THAT bad that this could possibly be conceived as believiable? Ut oh… LOL

gailcalled's avatar

I believe it, but remember that was just one of his many original and funny literary devices.

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