Do Dictionaries Contain Mistakes?

Having spent 15 years in the publishing business, I know there’s no such thing as a perfect book.(And if there ever were, the computer would eat the file.)

So what about dictionaries? In the book The Mother Tongue: English and How it Got That Way, Bill Bryson explains one error. The 1934 Merriam-Webster International Dictionary listed “dord” as a synonym for density. Actually someone had misread a note to include “D or d” as density’s accepted abbreviations. The error was corrected, but not before it was copied by other dictionaries. According to Bryson, “Such occurrences are more common than you might suppose. According to the First Supplement of the OED [Oxford English Dictionary], there are at least 350 words in English dictionaries that owe their existence to typographical errors or other misrenderings.”  (p. 71)

Leave A Reply

Your email address will not be published.