From Zymurgy to Zyzzyvas

Photo by K.Nollet, 2015

Are you a dictionary lover? If so, you enjoy holding the book in your hands while browsing through its pages. You relish the distraction of looking up a word, because you see lots of other cool words along the way.

I never mind when students do that; in fact, I encourage it.  At their age, I’d visit my grandmother’s and tuck away in a corner with her 1937 version of Merriam’s Collegiate Dictionary, Fifth Edition. It was an adventure and I loved the last word in it, zymurgy (p. 1174):

Photo by K.Nollet, 2015


Image from

Today I click on Merriam Webster online and get to the point without distractions, a real loss. Also, I need to know the word for which I’m searching, which takes the fun out of it. The last word in today’s unabridged version (you pay for it) is zyzzyvas, a genus of South American weevils. Notice the amazing snout of one in the photo.

There’s value in having physical dictionaries in classrooms and homes.  It’s not just about finding the word.  It’s about the pleasure of finding a word that’s your very own discovery, as you hold a book in your hands.








3 thoughts on “From Zymurgy to Zyzzyvas

  1. I love it! ” t’s not just about finding the word. It’s about the pleasure of finding a word that’s your very own discovery, as you hold a book in your hands.”

    Here’s a word for you: LEXOPHILE.

    Congratulations on getting to the end of the A to Z Challenge.


  2. I wholeheartedly agree. I would rather hike on over to the UMKC music library and do my reading/research in much the same manner. You always “bump into” books and articles of interest and value. The other day, while I waited for someone to return to the office, I browsed thru the “A”s in the dictionary. Although I recognized many, many words, I was amazed at how many I DIDN,t know!!


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