7 Interesting Vocabulary Words to Celebrate Dictionary Day

Dictionary DayOctober 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 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!

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