Dear Merriam-Webster’s Dictionary

Posted on November 26, 2012


Dear Merriam-Webster’s Dictionary,

I’m still awaiting a reply to my letter questioning the religious implications of your dogmatically rigid alphabetizing system, but today I write on a separate matter. I know your team is working hard to organize the English language, and I don’t want you to take this as a personal criticism, but I’ve noticed a few signs of shoddy workmanship and I’d appreciate it if your team would consider fixing the following words:

Lisp: The word lisp shouldn’t contain an ‘s’. It seems unnecessarily cruel to force people with a lisp to say, “I have a lithsp.”

Portmanteau: How is the word for blending two words to form a new word not also a portmanteau? How about if we combine ‘blend’ and ‘word’ to get ‘blord’? Or ‘blerd’? Those two gems took me like 30 seconds; imagine what your team could come up with if you gave them a month?

Guesstimate: Speaking of portmanteaus, I was discouraged to see you’ve acknowledged the agonizingly redundant ‘guesstimate’ as a real word. Guess what? An estimate was already a guess. There was no need to merge the two just because somebody thought it was cute. Don’t reward redundancy; we don’t have the time!

Palindrome: In the same vein as portmanteau, how is the word for palindrome not a palindrome? I’ll try and think up the perfect palindromic name for palindrome but in the meantime let’s use ‘palindromemordnilap’.

Sashay: No complaints. Keep up the good work.

Reconnoiter: I’m not a fan. It’s an ugly, ugly word. I’ve never reconnoitered in my life and nothing about the word makes me want to start. Lose it!

Ostentatious: I love that the word meaning ‘marked by or fond of conspicuous or vainglorious and sometimes pretentious display’ is itself a bit ostentatious. Can we add an accent symbol or a dollar sign to make it even more pretentious?

Sashay: Just wondering, what can we do to increase the popularity of this word? I figure people sashay so infrequently because they weren’t aware ‘strutting or moving about in an ostentatious or conspicuous manner’ was a transportation option. How can we get this word more press? Have you considered moving ‘sashay’ closer to the beginning of the dictionary?

Dyslexia: Couldn’t we make this word just a bit simpler to read?

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