Posted by: brian | December 24, 2008

I don’t think that word means what you think it does

The web-based Gmail interface includes links to a variety of content as part of its interface. These “web clips” mostly point to news & other information, and occasionally include “sponsored links” (aka, “advertisements”). One item included by default (you can customize what sources it pulls “clips” from) is the dictionary.com Word of the Day. Normally they’re pretty straight-forward, but a couple of recent entries puzzled me.

words of the days

It seems a little inaccurate to say that “macrobiotic” means “promoting longevity,” and “self-love” makes me think of something other than narcissism. Sure, those definitions fit, roughly, but they’re not accurate descriptions of existing usage. If I were unfamiliar with the terms, and I didn’t bother to click through, I might find myself looking a bit silly. It would be one thing to find that sort of definition in Urban Dictionary, but in a source that is intended to provide guidance on current usage (or at least ought to be), it’s a bit careless.

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Responses

  1. Speaking of words (and such) Google makes for a good impromptu, and sometimes disturbing, spell checker. I couldn’t get the spelling for viscera quite right, so I put my closest guess into google, and hit search.
    Sure enough Google came back with “Did you mean: viscera” but there was also an ad on the right saying “Looking for viscera? Try eBay!”

  2. You can get viscera on eBay? I bet I’d get a much better price than they offer at Byerly’s.


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