When I tell people I own lots of dictionaries (a number recently swelled by a trip to the thrift store), they give me The Look.
Oh, you know The Look, where the eyes go askance and seem to say, “She’s just too weird to look at directly, but I can’t drag my eyes totally away.”
I mean, who in her right mind collects dictionaries? In my life, they’re like those hairpins that cloud around the witch in that old Bugs Bunny cartoon. I have at least one in every room. (Not the bathrooms; I’m not that odd! Although…)
In an age that provides instant access to words and their meanings (and just about anything else), why would I clutter my life with books that contain just words?
See, that’s what people just don’t understand. A dictionary is not “just words.” Each holds such a wealth of information that it makes me almost giddy. You can find out all about a word from a good dictionary – where it comes from, how it’s pronounced, what its job is, and how it can transform itself.
I’ll often just wander through a volume looking at different words. This usually happens when I need to look up a word during a task I’d rather avoid. I end up going from one interesting entry to another pursuing words that catch my eye. This can last hours.
That’s one reason I have physical books instead of going up on an internet site. In a book, I can thumb through pages and have words jump out at me that I just have to check out.
Am I a closet lexicographer? Or am I just a logophile — or is that lexicomane or lexophile? I’ll have to go look them up.