Mouth-friend? Tonguepad? Words in the age of dictionary growth spurt

by Rashmee

Posted on June 2, 2015



samuel johnson dictionaryMouth-friend and tonguepad sound like they might be in a 21stcentury online dictionary. But they’ve been around for 300 years.

Both words are to be found in Samuel Johnson’s 1755 ‘A Dictionary of the English Language’.

Dr Johnson defined ‘mouthfriend’ as “someone who pretends to be your friend” and ‘tonguepad’ as “a great talker”.

His word for a personal trainer was a ‘shapesmith’. He defined this as “one who undertakes to improve the form of the body”.

It’s quite extraordinary to think that it took Dr Johnson eight years to compile his dictionary, despite the help of six assistants who worked alongside him in his house, just off Fleet Street.

Especially today, in the age of dictionary growth spurts as Merriam-Webster describes its latest addition of more than 1,700 entries and the expansion of existing entries “by more than 700 new senses”.

Its additions include ‘net neutrality’, ‘dark money’, ‘click fraud’, ‘emoji’, ‘meme’ and ‘click bait’.

(Tomorrow: Remember adorkable, gaybourhood? Online dictionaries validate nowspeak)

“By using stale metaphors,  similes and idioms, you save  much mental effort, at the  cost of leaving your meaning vague, not only for your reader but for yourself.”           - George Orwell
“By using stale metaphors, similes and idioms, you save much mental effort, at the cost of leaving your meaning vague, not only for your reader but for yourself.”
– George Orwell

 


Rashmee has lived and worked in several countries in the past decade, including Afghanistan, India, Haiti, Tunisia, the UAE, US and UK

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