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Seriously, Read a Book!

Thoughts on books, often interpreted through the high-brow prism of cartoon (read: Archer) references. Wait! I had something for this...

Currently reading

The Sketchnote Handbook: The Illustrated Guide to Visual Notetaking
Mike Rohde
The Antidote
Oliver Burkeman
The Kind Worth Killing
Peter Swanson
Data Points: Visualization That Means Something
Nathan Yau
James Buchanan
Jean H. Baker, Arthur M. Schlesinger Jr.

The Highly Selective Dictionary for the Extraordinarily Literate

The Highly Selective Dictionary for the Extraordinarily Literate - Eugene Ehrlich, Richard Lederer

“Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes once declared, ‘Language is the skin of living thought.’ Just as your skin encloses your body, so does your vocabulary bound your mental life.”

I know! I know it seems to be the very apogee of absurdity for one to actually “read” a dictionary. But, Eugene Ehrlich has created a sort of paradoxical anti-dictionary; one to be considered “an antidote to the ongoing poisonous effects wrought by the forces of linguistic darkness.” 


So, yes, I did, in fact, read all 192 pages of this lexicographic compendium (though not in one sitting). I'm sure I remain just as vulnerable to cacology* as ever (if not more so)—the same likely holds true for grandiloquence.


Will I now be able to settle all logomachies? It's unlikely. Have I become a master of paronomasia§? Nay, I have not.


And yet, this newfound knowledge is not impracticable—a word I can now use with greater confidence thanks to Ehrlich's special attention to common solecisms**.

impracticable (im-PRAK-ti-ke-bel) adjective incapable of being put into practice. Do not confuse impracticable with impractical, which means unwise or not practical and is used most often to denote unrealistic behavior in the management of one's finances.

So, while it's rare for me to disagree with the author of my favorite dictionary (Ambrose Bierce's The Devil's Dictionary), I must say that this is a book that any logophile could love.

Ambrose Bierce on Dictionaries


* cacology (ke-KOL-e-jee) noun 1. bad choice of words. 2. poor pronunciation.

grandiloquent (gran-DIL-e-kwent) adjective 1. using pompous language. 2. given to boastful talk.

logomachy (loh-GOM-e-kee) noun, plural logomachies 1. a dispute about words. 2. a meaningless battle of words.

§ paronomasia (PAR-e-noh-MAY-zhe) noun 1. word play; punning. 2. a pun.

** solecism (SOL-e-SIZ-em) noun 1. a mistake in the use of language. 2. an offense against good manners or etiquette

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