October 16 is Dictionary Day, a national celebration of words and grammar in honor of Noah Webster, one of the founders of the Merriam-Webster Dictionary. Born on October 16, 1758, Webster was a prodigious lexicographer, political writer and editor, and has often been called the father of American scholarship and education for his contributions to spelling and grammar. The Merriam-Webster Dictionary, originally published in 1828 as An American Dictionary of the English Language, has become a standard point of reference and is considered one of the most authoritative texts on the English language.
Dictionary Day is a fun opportunity for teachers to get creative with lessons in grammar, spelling and reading. There are tons of ways you can observe Dictionary Day, and EducationWorld.com offers suggestions for fun vocabulary-themed activities. As we take this day to place an emphasis on words, check out these seven interesting words you and your students can start incorporating into your vocabulary — all of the definitions are taken from the Merriam-Webster Dictionary Online!
- Circumbendibus, noun: An indirect or roundabout course, esp. in writing or speaking
It was rather difficult for me, and I didn’t want to do it, but I don’t see how I had any other choice but to mark down a student’s grade on a presentation and give them a grade that was less than perfect, which is to say it wasn’t an A because their speech was a bit of a circumbendibus. I wish they had just made their point right away.
- Dephlogisticate, transitive verb: To remove phlogiston from (phlogiston: noun; the hypothetical principle of fire regarded formerly as a material substance)
Dephlogisticate is a rather sesquipedalian word for “making something fireproof.” Hopefully, our fire drills will only ever be drills, because our school is properly dephlogisticated.
- Interfenestration, noun: 1. Width of pier between two windows; 2. Arrangement of windows with relation to the distance between them from axis to axis or from opening to opening
The interfenestration in my classroom is wide enough for me to place my third graders’ art projects between the two windows.
- Kakorrhaphiophobia, noun: Abnormal fear of failure
I encourage my students to push themselves to succeed; I don’t want them to hold themselves back out of fear. In fact, I often tell them the only thing to experience kakorrhaphiophobia towards is kakorrhaphiophobia itself.
Lexicographer, noun: An author or editor of a dictionary
It has long since been my dream to follow in Noah Webster’s footsteps and create a seminal dictionary as the next great lexicographer.
Parturition, noun: The action or process of giving birth to offspring
I had to call my principal to find a substitute for my class because my wife and I are expecting twins and she unexpectedly went into parturition last night.
Sesquipedalian, adjective: 1. Having many syllables; long (sesquipedalian terms);
2. Given to or characterized by the use of long words (a sesquipedalian television commentator)
I encounter gratification in challenging my students with my sesquipedalian orations. I endeavor to complexify their vocabulary with polysyllabic words!