On Owning a Dictionary

I own a dictionary.

A real one.

To add to the mystery unfolding in your brain, I bought this dictionary that I own. I know, I know. I’ve seen the reaction before. In fact, every time I mention this little detail of my life to someone I get it. Even the bookish lady who assisted me at the sales register voiced her surprise. “Wow, a dictionary. We don’t get many people buying these anymore.”

What is it about purchasing all the words in our language that garners such wonderment?

Despite many of my friends’ enduring expositions on electronic dictionaries and their ubiquity, smallness, and freeness, I am glad that I own a physical, hardbound, full-size dictionary. Weighing in at 8.2 pounds with 2076 pages, it is rather permanent in its placement in my apartment. It makes more sense to view it as a small piece of furniture.

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