I absolutely love my reference books. Yes they are hefty tomes; heavy and awkward, but using them is like dipping into a wonderful Ice Cream Sundae with many layers, textures and flavours. Each word sending me on a journey to discover its many and varied meanings.
I recall a number of my course contemporaries, from all over the UK, slopping bucket loads of muck on the idea that a writer would want to own, much less use a proper, published dictionary, favouring Internet searches instead. These same people apparently wanted to be the future authors of tomorrow. Where was their love of words and books?
When the O.U. recommended the Chambers Dictionary for our Creative Writing course I wondered why this particular lexicon? No-one on the forums had a clue, it seemed. Maybe someone out there in cyberspace knows?
I’ve been the proud owner of a 1988 Chambers since 1988. (If you looked up the word Éclair it said: ‘a long cake of short duration’. However, more recent editions have revised this description). Recently I looked up the word ‘arcane’ in it, (my mother’s rule of thumb to confirm if a dictionary is good) but the word wasn’t there! I was crestfallen. I now have an Oxford Dictionary of English which I love and which does have the word arcane:
Of course there’s the Computer Thesaurus, which is very useful. I really don’t deny it, but isn’t it bland and limited? For example:
The definition of Piqued in synonym checker comes up as:
I wonder,what’s your favourite dictionary tipple?