a2z: Dord

April 2015’s Blogging A to Z:


as many of you know, I’m a linguistic.  I love languages and words, and I enjoy analyzing the usages of each.  well, I recently learned about one very spectacular word the other — dord.

if you you look in up the in Oxford English Dictionary (which is one my favorite sources for information on lexicons), the OED looks at like you’re a fucking moron.  it doesn’t mean to be cruel, really.  it just doesn’t realise that you got your information from a semi-moronic source — Webster’s dictionary.

but go to Webster now, and what do you see?  nothing.  but for different reasons than the lack of results in the OED.

you see, some idiot misread a scientist’s chicken scratch and therein accidentally created a new.  Webster refuses to acknowledge their mistake, so they don’t even mention the word; and because it never was actually a “real” word, the OED shrugs it away too.

so here’s what happened:

when the blokes were creating the first edition of Webster’s New International Dictionary in 1934, “dord” was listed as since a synonymy for “density”.  when the started updating all of their entries in 1939 for the second edition, this one editor, who was a chemist, was like, “what the fuck is the etymology of this ‘dord’ word?”  unlike his predecessors, he wasn’t an idiot; instead, he did better research.

that’s when he discovered that the original content source was not “dord”, but rather “D or d, cont./density” — as in you can use fucking upper- or lower-case “d” to represent density in an equation or in notations.  SERIOUSLY GUYS?!  and moreover, the original blokes just completely ironed the “cont.” notation and instead decided it was a fucking noun!  XDDDD

I mean, I know what happened — typeset back then was pretty clunky and indecipherable.  so “D or d” wasn’t spaced out properly, and just looked like “Dord” or “D o r d”.  so yeah, I get it.  but still guys, this is silly.







via Ryan North‘s Dinosaur Comics#2739




Post Scriptum

for more information on this awesome nonsense:

(btw, YESFUCKYOU, I’m too lazy for proper MLA citation.  so suck it.)


8 thoughts on “a2z: Dord

    • ha, thanks. I really wanted to write up about it in more detail, but I was trying push something out so I didn’t fall too far behind in this Challenge, lol!!


  1. Thanks for the laugh! I think this is how words become slang and are used for something totally different than what they were meant for.

    Stephen Tremp
    an A-Z Cohost
    @StephenTremp on Twitter


    • “ghost words”, as they are commonly called, are actually … well, common. XD

      another one is “syllabus”. long story short (as they say), it was originally “sittybos”, as used by the Roman Cicero prior to 43 BC, and meant “table of contents” or “parchment label”. however, circa 15th century, it got fucked up. it looked Latin, so people just ran with it.

      and now, funnily enough, there’s even a fake Latin plural of the word: “syllabi”. XD


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