A tendentious but thought-provoking mini-review of The New Penguin English Dictionary from the Telegraph (via Puerta del Sol):

“Spotting new words can be slightly depressing. It’s only three years since the excellent Penguin dictionary first appeared, but it has acquired “hundreds of new words, jargon and buzzwords” – which might be good news except that “every aspect of technological progress”, as its editor says, “seems to entail the vocabulary of menace”, and he instances cyberstalking, identity theft and shoulder surfing (sneaking behind someone as they punch in their PIN number). All this and bioterrorism too.”

A more substantive review can be found at Michael Quinion’s World Wide Words, pointing out that the Penguin is “based on the skeleton of the older Longman Dictionary” and giving this caveat:

There are dangers, though, with creating an image of the moment: one entry is for quantoid, “a person who is enthusiastic about statistics and quantitative methods of analysis”. That would be fine, except that in ten years of active research, I’ve never seen an example, and online I found just seven instances. Surely, this hardly makes it a widely used term suitable for inclusion in a concise dictionary? Mr Wilcockson disagrees, arguing that it’s a playful and quirky use of language that deserves inclusion.

I have to go with Quinion on this.


  1. You have to feel for Mr Wilcockson though – he clearly couldn’t help himself.

  2. Very true — it’s nice to see genuine love for words, even the runty ones that won’t survive, tossing a monkey wrench into the solemn statistical mandates of lexicography. Maybe dictionaries should have an appendix of “Cute runts”…

Speak Your Mind