I’ll admit it: when I encounter an unfamiliar word while reading, I’m much more likely to guess at its meaning based on context than take the time to look it up in the dictionary. I’ve always liked the idea of learning new words while reading, though, so a few years ago I bought myself a pocket dictionary and kept it by my reading chair. The rule I made for myself was if I couldn’t define a word I came across, I would look it up. Needless to say, that didn’t last long! Sometimes the dictionary wasn’t with me, or I was feeling lazy, or I was too caught up in the story to even notice I’d glossed over a word.
When I got my Sony Reader, looking up words got easier. I can just double-tap the word in question and its definition pops up at the bottom of my screen. Cool! I’ve only been able to muster two complains: First, that some words aren’t in the dictionary my Reader uses, and second, that there’s no way to keep a list of favorite new words. There’s also the problem of print books, which (as of yet?) do not offer similar functionality. Enter: the dictionary.com app on my Android phone. Not only has it had every word I’ve looked up so far, but I can add words to a favorites list in the app. And I’m much more likely to have my phone nearby than a dictionary. The dictionary app has made a convert out of me. I really enjoy looking up new words as well as words I’m not quite clear about when I can do it quickly and have the option to save them. I’ve come across some gems so far:
hugger-mugger: – noun 1. disorder or confusion; muddle. 2. secrecy; reticence. – adjective 3. secret or clandestine. 4. disorderly or confused. – verb (used with object) 5. to keep secret or concealed; hush up. – verb (used without object) 6. to act secretly.
trice – noun 1. a very short time; an instant; in a trice.
recrudescence – noun 1. breaking out afresh or into renewed activity; revival or reappearance in active existence.
atrabilious – adjective 1. gloomy; morose; melancholy; morbid. 2. irritable; bad-tempered; splenetic.
scarper – verb (used without object) 1. to flee or depart suddenly, esp. without having paid one’s bills
And so many more! So, my question to you: Do you read with a dictionary? Why or why not? What favorite words have you encountered through reading?