The Reveal

dic•tion•ary noun (pl. ies) 1 a a book that lists (usu. in alphabetical order) and explains the words of a language or gives equivalent words in another language.

chal•lenge noun 1 a a summons to take part in a contest or a trial of strength etc. b a summons to prove or justify something. 2 a a demanding or difficult task (getting out of bed on time is a challenge). b a difficult but stimulating task.Bicep curling the Canadian Oxford Dictionary

You got it folks. This time around the only thing physical is going to be the act of toting around this hulking 4.6 pound behemoth of words… The Canadian Oxford Dictionary. Second Edition.

Starting March 16th at the crack of midnight (not that I’ve got the hustle to bust this bad boy open in the middle of the night on Day 1) the Dictionary Challenge begins. I will have 6 months to read every entry – including all biographies and encyclopedic information. The introductions and appendices aren’t included in the challenge, but I might read them anyways. There are 1,815 pages and 300,000 definitions alone.

For those of you who have been avidly reading my challenges, you’ve probably noticed my repertoire of words could use a little updating. Like maybe I’ll find a replacement for the word delve. Or repertoire.

The average adult apparently only has 20,000-35,000 words in their…. repertoire. That’s really not a lot. This dictionary has 300,000 by itself. The Oxford English Dictionary 20 Volume set contains 615,100 definitions (plus an impressive amount of other references and information.) So just think for a moment. If all of these words exist, how are we accurately communicating anything when we’re only using 3-5% of the words in our language?

I’m sure you’ve all been there when you want to describe something to someone else, but your words fail to actually show them what you mean or felt or saw. Doesn’t that suck? Doesn’t that create this gap in understanding. You can see it on their faces. They have no idea what the hell you’re talking about. Maybe if you read the dictionary you’d know what words to use and instead of crushing confusion, you’d see the lightbulb of understanding flash in their eyes like a great piercing hallelujah!


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