dagnabbit! stop adding words to the dictionary!

hacksaw jim duggan

As a word guy, my instincts unerringly set me on an annual task comparable to the upstream struggle of the Pacific salmon during spawning season: locating the bevy of articles published each year reporting which words the dic-heads at Merriam-Webster or Random House have added to our official lexicon. Understand that I do not do this by choice, but rather am impelled by forces hardwired into my lower brain by millions of years of nerd evolution. Often this leads me to a painful place. Such is the case in aught-nine.

It’s not really anything that was added . . . it’s the startling omission of a word I’d always assumed must have its place in any good dictionary:


Yes, I understand that this is a slang, and possibly regional, term. But here’s where the “New Words For 2009” hoo-hah (a dictionary-approved term, by the way) comes in . . . if words like “tweet” and “LOL” are being stamped with the seal of official approval, how can dagnabbit be left behind?

I’ll tell you how: in a desperate bid to strip themselves of their stodgy reputation, to appear hip and with-it and “sexy,” the dictionarians are adding of-the-moment terms all willy-nilly (also in the dictionary). And higgledy-piggledy (yep, this’un, too), to boot. While their father’s fathers would rather have been stabbed repeatedly in the stomach with a pitchfork than add “dagnabbit” to the dictionary, their heirs are tossing in “OMG!” and the like. And thus failing our society.

After all, it wasn’t so long ago that this same crew officially blessed our use of “IM.” And do you know anyone who walks around saying, “Oh ya, Caitlin and I were IM’ing all last night. Then I IM’ed Brianna.” Does anyone actual use instant messaging anymore?

Probably about the same percentage of the populace who still drop the occasional “dagnabbit.”

You’ll never be cool, dictionarians. Stop trying, and in the process give ol’ dags its proper measure of respect.


One thought on “dagnabbit! stop adding words to the dictionary!”

  1. We should be like the French. Whenever new words come up that people want to use, we should have a government agency dedicated to come up with clunky circumlocutions that we will force everyone to use instead. LOL, for instance, would be rendered “thunderously guffawing,” with severe civil penalties for anyone caught abbreviatating it to TG. Then we’d look like the kind of country that takes language seriously!

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