The Dictionary of Difficult Words
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.
The Dictionary of Difficult Words is out spring 2019 with Quarto Books.
April 12 | 7pm | WNYC’s Science Friday Live Event | The Strand | New York
May 1 | 6pm | Metrolex: In Conversation with Ben Zimmer and Shalini Shankar | NYU Bookstore | New York
May 19 | 3pm | West Coast Release | Mrs. Dalloway’s | Berkeley
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.
WHY ONLY 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.
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!