Thursday Thirteen #38


THIRTEEN MORE BITS
OF WORD TRIVIA

1. Cabbaged and fabaceae, each eight letters long, are the longest words that can be played on a musical instrument.

2. Strengths, nine letters long, is the longest word in the English language with only one vowel.

3. Ushers contains the most personal pronouns spelled consecutively within it: he, her, hers, she, and us, totaling five pronouns.

4. Are is a one syllable word that can be made into a three syllable word by adding just one letter to make area.

5. Asthma begins and ends with a vowel and has no other vowels in between.

6. DORD is a non-existent word entered into the second edition of Webster’s New International Dictionary by mistake. “When the guidelines for etymology in Webster’s Third were nearing completion, Gove took time out to add the story of dord to the lore of how things can go wrong in dictionary making. Dord was a word that had appeared spontaneously and had found a quiet niche in the English language two decades earlier. It was recorded in Webster’s Second in 1934 on page 771, where it remained undetected for five years. It disappeared from the dictionary a year later without ever having entered common parlance.”

For those interested in the full story of DORD, I have added this note as found on Wikipedia:



An excerpt from Webster’s showing the non-existent word “dord”

Dord is one of the most famous errors in lexicography, a word accidentally created by the G. and C. Merriam Company’s staff and included in the second edition of its New International Dictionary, in which the term is defined as “density”.

Philip Babcock Gove, an editor at Merriam-Webster who became editor-in-chief of Webster’s Third New International Dictionary, explained why “dord” was included in the dictionary in a letter to the journal American Speech, fifteen years after the error was caught.

On July 31, 1931, Austin M. Patterson, Webster’s chemistry editor, sent in a slip reading “D or d, cont./density.” This was intended to add “density” to the existing list of words that the letter “D” can abbreviate. The slip somehow went astray, and the phrase “D or d” was misinterpreted as a single, run-together word: dord. (This was a plausible mistake because headwords on slips were typed with spaces between the letters, making “D or d” look very much like “D o r d”.) A new slip was prepared for the printer and a part of speech assigned along with a pronunciation. The word got past proofreaders and appeared on page 771 of the dictionary around 1934.

On February 28, 1939, an editor noticed “dord” lacked an etymology and investigated. Soon an order was sent to the printer marked “plate change/imperative/urgent”. The word “dord” was excised and the definition of the adjacent entry “Dore furnace” was expanded from “A furnace for refining dore bullion” to “a furnace in which dore bullion is refined” to close up the space. Gove wrote that this was “probably too bad, for why shouldn’t dord mean ‘density’?”


7. The most frequently looked up article in the World Book Encyclopedia is said to be snake.

8. Paradigm was the word most frequently looked up in 1998 in the Merriam-Webster on-line dictionary.

9. Wilfred Funk’s list of the most beautiful words in English: ASPHODEL, FAWN, DAWN, CHALICE, ANEMONE, TRANQUIL, HUSH, GOLDEN, HALCYON, CAMELLIA, BOBOLINK, THRUSH, CHIMES, MURMURING, LULLABY, LUMINOUS, DAMASK, CERULEAN, MELODY, MARIGOLD, JONQUIL, ORIOLE, TENDRIL, MYRRH, MIGNONETTE, GOSSAMER, ALYSSEUM, MIST, OLEANDER, AMARYLLIS, ROSEMARY.

10. The ten worst-sounding words in English, according to a poll by the National Association of Teachers of Speech in August, 1946: CACOPHONY, CRUNCH, FLATULENT, GRIPE, JAZZ, PHLEGMATIC, PLUMP, PLUTOCRAT, SAP, and TREACHERY.

11. FOLK and FOLKS are both plurals, with no singular form.

12. A study of Usenet traffic several years ago showed these words most frequently misspelled (by gross count): RECEIVE, A LOT, AMATEUR, SEPARATE, REALIZE, THEIR, DEFINITE, INDEPENDENT, WEIRD, EMBARRASS, ARGUMENT, NO ONE, ACQUIRE, ACCIDENTALLY, OCCURRENCE, COLLECTIBLE, RIDICULOUS, MANEUVER, LIAISON, GAUGE, ATHEIST, GRAMMAR, SUPERSEDE, KERNEL, and CONSENSUS.

13. Puh-leeze was added to the Oxford English dictionary in September 2007. “Respelling is often used to convey qualities, such as emphasis or accent, which are easily distinguished in speech but difficult to express in written form. In this case, the respelling of please to indicate an emphatic or sarcastic pronunciation has become sufficiently well established to warrant inclusion in the OED as a separate entry.”

* * *


The purpose of the meme is to get to know everyone who participates a little bit better every Thursday. Visiting fellow Thirteeners is encouraged! If you participate, leave the link to your Thirteen in others comments. It’s easy, and fun! Be sure to update your Thirteen with links that are left for you, as well!

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Author: nancybond

A writer, photographer, naturalist from small town Nova Scotia, Canada.

13 thoughts on “Thursday Thirteen #38”

  1. Hey, I did a word post today too :)

    The other word that is misspelled and drives me crazy? All right. I hate it used as alright, especially in dialogue.

  2. MUST we add slang to the English dictionary? I swear, people cannot spell in the first place… why encourage more literary torture?

  3. Great list – I learned something new. I think I’d read about DORD before, but some of the other stuff – like Ushers and Area, I hadn’t thought of. Very interesting stuff. Thanks

    Happy TT!

  4. I’m surprised they didn’t add DORD as a word… Interesting list, Nancy. I have words I dislike, but I never think of those words as beautiful. I wonder what would be voted as worst-sounding now.

  5. We need to find a meaning for the word “dord” so they will put it back…

    “He dorded me”
    “Did not”

    or

    “That dord who lives next door declared bankrupsy”

    Let’s do it Nancy! :)

    Thanks for visiting my blog – this is a really fun list!

  6. Very interesting list. I wonder what the ugliest words would be in a survey today. I nominate monetize and prioitize.

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