Tuesday, March 04, 2008

Mrs. Byrne's & I

Not only is my cheapo 1984 paperback edition of Mrs. Byrne's Dictionary yellowing with age and cracked in the spine, it's fairly well obsolete, considering on-line references. Or is it? I'm going to keep it anyway, since not everything dwelling in the world paper-mass has migrated to the digital realm.

I have more books than bookshelf space, and so some items have been tucked away for a while, Mrs. Byrne's among them. I was doing a little rearrangement work over the weekend on one of these hidden piles recently -- reorganizing, no, since that assumes a prior organization -- and unearthed the book for the first time in a few years. So naturally I had to stop moving books around and browse through it for a while. Its full title: "Mrs. Byrne's Dictionary of Unusual, Obscure, and Preposterous Words" (1974) by Josefa Heifetz Byrne, daughter of the violinist Jascha Heifetz. (See the Groucho Marx quote in that entry, under "Career.")

I would share some of Mrs. Byrne's selections here, but no need. Someone has already done it, and better than I could, unless I wanted to take more time than I do to get it done.

Oddly enough, I also discovered a couple of fine word sites over the weekend: World Wide Words and the straightforwardly named A Collection of Word Oddities and Trivia. What better on a still-winter weekend?

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