What is the best dictionary for word lovers?

A fun or witty definition can make you learn to appreciate—or even reevaluate—words you might have written off. Is your dictionary holding back your writing style?

All word enthusiasts have their own favorite online or in-print dictionaries.

I’ve always been loyal devotee of the Oxford English Dictionary, but now there’s a new dictionary in my life. It’s not you OED; it’s me.

The Chambers Dictionary is described as the “most useful and diverting single-volume word-hoard available.” It is also the preferred dictionary of literary heavyweights Philip Pullman, Melvyn Bragg and Ali Smith.

The dictionary contains more entries than any other single-volume English dictionary, with definitions that are short, to-the-point, and quirky. The tone is less than objective and entries are often obscure or controversial. Others are witty or caustic.

They’re also really fun.

Here is a sample of the tome’s colorful definitions:

  • back-seat driver: someone free of responsibility but full of advice
  • boy band: a pop group, targeting mainly the teenage market, composed of young males chosen because they look good and can dance and sometimes even sing
  • blonde moment: a temporary period of stupidity, supposedly characteristic of women with blonde hair.
  • éclair: a cake–long in shape, but short in duration–with cream filling and usually chocolate icing
  • kazoo: a would-be musical instrument
  • opinion: what seems to one to be probably true
  • paneity: the state of being bread

  • Regift: to give (an unwanted present) as a gift to another person, in a process which is likely to continue almost indefinitely
  • Tracksuit: a loose warm suit intended to be worn by athletes when warming up or training, but sometimes worn by others in an error in judgment
  • wardrobe malfunction: the temporary failure of an item of clothing to do its job in covering a part of the body that it would be advisable to keep covered”

What are some of your favorite dictionaries and definitions, PR Daily readers?

Laura Hale Brockway is an Austin-based writer and editor and a regular contributor to PR Daily. Read more of her work at impertinentremarks.com.

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