An Unfathomable Challenge


I am a logophile.

I love broadening my vocabulary, learning new words and their definitions. I also like to learn their origins. Many times when I was writing historical fiction, especially, I’d stop before using a word and wonder, “Did that word even exist in the 17th century?” So that’s when you turn to the dictionary.

A friend recently told me about The Professor and the Madman by Simon Winchester. I put a hold on the ebook at my library. There’s also a movie version, to no great surprise.

The blurb from Amazon reads:

The Professor and the Madman is an extraordinary tale of madness, genius, and the incredible obsessions of two remarkable men that led to the making of the Oxford English Dictionary—and literary history.

The making of the OED was one of the most ambitious projects ever undertaken. As definitions were collected, the overseeing committee, led by Professor James Murray, was stunned to discover that one man, Dr. W. C. Minor, had submitted more than ten thousand. But their surprise would pale in comparison to what they were about to discover when the committee insisted on honoring him. For Dr. Minor, an American Civil War veteran, was also an inmate at an asylum for the criminally insane.

I have also always loved history, so I’m  looking forward to reading this.

I found this topic blog-worthy because it has often fascinated me how anyone could collect every word of any language, especially English, considering how it’s borrowed from so many other languages.  How is accuracy assured?

Wikipedia has an interesting article on the Oxford English Dictionary, again, to no surprise.

This subject probably doesn’t appeal to many, but I have always found language (particularly English) and its origins fascinating. And I am looking forward to reading The Professor and the Madman.

black and white book business close up
Photo by Pixabay on

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