Dictionaries are amazing. I remember thinking I was pretty odd for including one on my Christmas wish list when I was somewhere around age 12. And the first time I sat down to edit something professionally -- at a magazine during the pre-internet days -- I reached for the dictionary sitting on the corner of my desk multiple times to be able to do that article a semblance of true editorial justice.
Today, when I edit, I'm still somewhat old school in that I often use an admittedly clunky hard-backed dictionary. I like the feel of the book in hand, and having all that information ready at the turn of a page or two, or a thousand.
In an expression of adaptability, however, I've also been known to use my fingertips to log on to an online dictionary for a quick check of something. Especially lovely is the option of clicking to hear a word pronounced correctly out loud.
Anyhoo, in seeking inspiration for this post, I sought out the tattered red Merriam-Webster in my possession and opened to the section beginning with the large "X." This letter appears to have the shortest section dedicated to it in the tome -- one page plus perhaps one-sixth of another. And a good number of the words seem to have a scientific or mechanical association, such as having to do with the body, the universe, a plant species, a machine or something of that nature.
Fascinating, I tell ya.