Dictionaries Define Things, or Do They?

June 1, 2022 –

I suppose it is time to purchase a new Dictionary. I prefer the printed type.

My standby Dictionary, The American College Dictionary, published in 1959 by Random House of Canada Limited, is outdated. All the words I need seem to be in this Dictionary. It has 1,421 pages and starts with “A and ends with Z.”

I am not too much for new words when old words work. The problem with my Dictionary is that the old familiar words have new, unfamiliar meanings. Take “hero,” for example. My Dictionary defines a “hero” as “a man of distinguished valor or performance, admired for his noble qualities.” This definition reminds me of doctors and nurses, first responders, and the brave service members raising the flag on Iowa Jima. Mother Teresa’s untiring work among the poor in India, Dr. Martin Luther King, who had a dream bigger than himself and Lou Gehrig, was diagnosed with (ALS). This incurable neuromuscular disorder forced his retirement at age 36.  In his last appearance at Yankee Stadium, this hero said, “I’m the luckiest man on the face of the earth.” For me, these are heroes.

But, as I read, watch, or listen to the news reporters’ definition of today’s, heroes, I see or hear a description other than people with distinguished courage or noble qualities. Today heroes are the overpaid athletes who assault their spouses, engage in rape and murder, the celebrities who take off the most clothing, and males who are now females and females who are now males.

No matter who’s the President, they will not fit my dictionary definition of a “hero.” In the ’50s, we described the President as a politician; the same is true today. What we need is a “statesman or stateswoman.”

I think I’ll also keep using my old Dictionary.