Dictionary Stories

On the Canadian radio news show As it Happens last night I heard about something that is really cool. A gentleman in California has started a blog where he writes short stories that are made up entirely of example sentences from dictionaries. My favorite dictionary is the OED (and, thankfully, I have online access to it through my university) so I hadn’t noticed how crazy example sentences are. The OED’s jam is to put a word in its historical context so all of the example sentences come from texts in which the word was used. The sentences can be very dramatic but they can also be very funny as a word’s meaning may change over time. But, some dictionaries include sentences that have been made up to illustrate the definition of the word. These are the sentences that Jez Burrows is using to make his stories. The stories Burrows have come up with are clever and short. They make for a fun read. This one made me laugh this morning:

The League of Ordinary Gentlemen

A retired teacher. A topiary gardener. An army officer of fairly high rank. A brilliant young mathematician. A highly esteemed scholar. President Kennedy. One of the great stars in the American golfing firmament. Detective Sergeant Fox. The Honorable Richard Morris Esquire, chief justice of the supreme court of our state. When you put these men together, you’re bound to get fireworks. Unfortunately, we do not have the time to interview every applicant.

You can find these short stories here.

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