The Dictionary of Difficult Words


Words by Jane Solomon & Illustrations by Louise Lockhart

Words by Jane Solomon & Illustrations by Louise Lockhart

What is a bumbershoot? Or a moonbow? And what does it mean when someone absquatulates?

Find out all this and more in The Dictionary of Difficult Words. Test your knowledge with more than 400 words to amaze and inspire budding wordsmiths, young and old alike. Written with simple, easy-to-understand definitions by lexicographer Jane Solomon, this dictionary celebrates the beauty of the English language for family trivia time spent around the printed page.

A Peek Inside

The Dictionary of Difficult Words is geared toward children aged 7–12, but it’s written to appeal to adults as well. As the cover suggests, it's a highly illustrated dictionary with only difficult words in it. This book welcomes all readers, even those who would never sit down and read a traditional dictionary cover to cover.


In addition to the definitions, each letter of the alphabet has a featured word that is explored in depth and accompanied with a bright full-page illustration by Louise Lockhart. These 26 pages are like an ABC book within The Dictionary of Difficult Words.


Usually when we think about dictionaries, we think about resources that have any word we could ever possibly want to know the meaning of. However, that's not how dictionaries always were. The first dictionaries in English were dictionaries of difficult words, just like this book. They were often collections of vocabulary from very specific topics like gardening, law, medicine, and words borrowed from other languages. It's only in the last few hundred years that dictionaries have been thought of as general-purpose reference books.

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Who Writes Dictionaries?


[lek-si-kog-ruh-fer] • noun
A lexicographer is someone who writes and edits dictionaries.

Why Does This Book Use Singular They?


Though it might seem like a very simple word, there's a lot of debate over they. Some people don't like it when you use they when you're talking about one person. Instead, they think you should use he or she. However, this can sometimes be a problem.

What if you don't know the gender of the person you're talking about? What if a person asks you to use they when you're talking about them?

The good news is, it's perfectly fine to use they when you're talking about one person. If we look at writing from a long time ago, we can see that the word they has been used for at least 700 years to talk about one individual person. This book has used they in this way, and you can too!


🇺🇸US Edition: IndieBound, Barnes & Noble, Books-A-Million, Amazon
🇬🇧UK Edition: Waterstones, Books Etc., Book Depository, Amazon
🇨🇦CA Edition: Indigo, Amazon
🇦🇺AUS Edition: Booktopia, Amazon

You can also request it at your local library or favorite indie bookstore!


May 1
6pm | NYU Bookstore | New York
Metrolex: Jane Solomon and Shalini Shankar in conversation with Ben Zimmer
RSVP: Eventbrite

May 3
7pm | Powerhouse Arena | New York
Jane Solomon in Conversation with Kory Stamper
RSVP: Eventbrite Facebook

May 15
4:30pm | Anderson's Bookshop | Downers Grove, IL
Word Party (for kids!)

May 16
7pm | The Book Cellar | Chicago
Jane Solomon in Conversation with Chicago Poet Rachel Hinton
RSVP: Eventbrite

May 18
3pm | Children’s Fairyland | Oakland
Turn the Page: Children’s Book Festival
RSVP: Facebook (adults must be accompanied by a child)

May 19
3pm | Mrs. Dalloway’s | Berkeley
West Coast Release: Jane Solomon in Conversation with Tyler Schnoebelen
RSVP: Eventbrite

August 12
7:30pm | The Booksmith | San Francisco
Jane Solomon with Helen Zaltzman and Kevin Smokler
RSVP: Facebook

September 14
1pm | Books Inc. | Mountain View
Jane Solomon in Conversation with Arielle Pardes