Today’s the day in 1828 that Noah Webster went to the copyright office to register his work “An American Dictionary of the English Language.” This work, no pun intended, defined American English as people actually spoke it, but it also included some words that haven’t exactly stayed with us. Plus: there are perhaps no words for the mulletty goodness that resulted when a woman in New Zealand tried to cut her hair with a kitchen knife.
Happy Birthday, Webster’s 1828! (Merriam-Webster)
An A to Z of Noah Webster’s Finest Forgotten Words (Huffington Post)
Webster’s defines a podcast as a digital audio program available for automatic download online.
It’s Tuesday, April 14th, which is not exactly the most cheerful day in world history.
It’s when Abraham Lincoln went to Ford’s Theater, and when the Titanic went into the iceberg.
But it’s also the day in 1828 that Noah Webster went to the copyright office to register his work “An American Dictionary of the English Language.”
It’s not the first dictionary; in fact, it wasn’t even Webster’s first dictionary.
But it is the work that, well, defines American English.
Webster worked on this dictionary for decades, adding thousands of words that had never been in a dictionary before.
Americans spell “color” without a “u” because of Webster, who thought spellings should be based on the sound of the spoken word.
Though somehow his spelling of the word tongue – “tung” – never caught on.
And while his goal was to document the language Americans actually spoke in their lives, some of the words Webster included in his landmark work aren’t exactly common these days.
Like the word “daggle-tail,” which describes getting the bottom part of a piece of clothing dirty with mud or wet grass.
Perhaps your clothes get daggle-tailed if you move at a tardigradous pace; that was one of the words for slow added to the dictionary.
Some of us might maffle, or stumble over, these obscure words.
But don’t worry, even if you do, I won’t think of you as Webster’s word for an insignificant person: a “fopdoodle.”
There are probably no words to describe what happened to Corrie Loose-Pin Walker of Hamilton, New Zealand, who took her hair care into her own hands.
She, like so many of us, are at home and she needed a haircut, only she didn’t have any scissors.
So she took a kitchen knife to her hair and sort of sawed it off into a kind of mullet.
I guess if hockey ever starts back up, she’ll be ready.