2/28/09

DORD, 6 points

“I challenge, grandpa!”

It was the finishing move of the game and grandpa had placed his remaining two tiles, two letter “D”s, above and below the existing word “OR.”

Grandpa had been waiting years to use the word in a Scrabble game. With a glimmer in his eyes that was hard for him to conceal, he turned and slowly reached towards the bookshelf behind him. He knew exactly where the book was but he made a point of running his index finger across the spines of several others before letting it stop on the right one.

“Ah! Here it is! Trusty dusty old Webster’s Second. I’ll let you look it up for us, eh?”

---

In 1934, a previously unheard of word appeared in Noah Webster’s Dictionary. It was discovered some five years later on February 28th, 1939, by an editor who just happened to be flipping through the massive tome. He noticed the strange word because it lacked an etymology.

Going back into the company files, he found a little slip of paper. It was sent in by a chemist and on it was written, “D or d, cont/ density.”

Rather than as the abbreviation, “D” for “Density,” the previous proofreader had read the note to mean “Dord, Density.” He came up with the phonetic pronunciation of “dord” on his own. He even decided to eliminate the “cont” portion of the note, which glaringly meant that there would be more to follow about the letter “D.” In its place, he signified the word as a noun.

“plate change imperative/urgent” was filed by the surprised editor and the word was removed before the next printing.

---

“Well?” grandpa asked.

“Well, I’ll be. You win again,” the boy said disappointedly, “right between dorcopsis and dore. How do you know these words?”

3 comments:

Indeterminacy said...

What a fund story, and shift of perspectives. Could also be an acronym for "do or die"

100swallows said...

I like those grubby scrabble letters.

cyurkanin said...

Alas, those ones aren't mine, I kept forgetting to take a picture. Rest assured though, fine sir, that my tiles are every bit as grubby! I'm not sure the world is ready for them though.