Playing Dictionary

When I was a teenager I was introduced to a fun game at a youth event. Dictionary consisted of breaking up a group into teams. Each team would be given a word from a dictionary that no one in the group knew the definition for. Only one team would have the definition, and all the others had to make one up. The best fake definition won!

There’s a little more to that, I think. It’s been *ahem* twenty odd years since I played it. But one of the keys, I remember, was finding a weird enough word that no one knew what it meant. Challenging, in some dictionaries that had been watered down for ‘average’ vocabularies. For me, an avid reader then as now, it was always delightful to page through a dictionary in search of a new-to-me word. Like…

Nook-shotten,a. Running out into corners or angles: as, “that nook-shotten isle of Albion” (Shakespere’s “Henry V.,”iii.5.14).


Pyralid, winged insect supposed to live in fire.


Isohyetal, a. pertaining to or marking equality of rainfall.

Having a really big dictionary on my desk is going to be fun!

The Office-House (which really needs a name) now has comfy seating. And coffee!


15 responses to “Playing Dictionary”

  1. so the dictionary was almost as much of a prize as the desk?

    1. Yes, and completely unexpected. I’d have said I didn’t need one. But I couldn’t just leave it there!

  2. I love those big old dictionaries! And I want a 1930’s or 1940’s set of encyclopedias.

    1. I still kick myself for giving away the 1885 encyclopedia Brittanica set. Even if it was missing a volume.

  3. Inktail’s Eyrie?

  4. The Dictionary Game brings back some great college memories. Being able to think of and write good sounding fake definitions was critical to success. Fun times indeed.

  5. Bibliosmia – the smell and aroma of old or good books – a word I recently came across and seems fitting to share here =)

    1. Oh, I like that. I love walking into a used bookstore and sniffing the air.

  6. Margaret Ball Avatar
    Margaret Ball

    “Kenspeckle” is burned into my brain from a Dictionary game of at least forty years ago. Sadly, no copyeditor ever let me get away with using it in a book. Maybe now that I’m doing indie…

    1. I looked that up – in the dictionary! – just now. Totally not what I expected.

  7. D Gail Begley Avatar
    D Gail Begley

    I work as a secretary in the Pentagon 4/8 years in the 1980s. In each office on a book stand what’s a huge I do mean huge dictionary. One day after working 12-hour or more days for many days we had all gotten a little loopy. So late one evening I took a break from my desk and walk over to the dictionary and looked up the word slave. And this is no lie. The definition read: a person who works Night and Day in a Pentagon party snacks

    1. And it didn’t continue with “and how are you Mr. Wilson?”

  8. *blink, blink* I thought everyone knew what an isohyet was. Or is that just people from this part of the world who do water stuff? (John Wesley Powell invented the isohyetal map.)

    1. Most of my life I’ve lived where water wasn’t a concern. Or places where ‘too much!’ was the primary concern. Like here in the Ohio River Valley ‘how do I keep leather armor from molding’ sort of concern. So it’s not a word I’d seen before.

  9. Sometimes you can fake people out with words that sound like they should mean something quite other than what they do, like “comate”.

    [Hint: think “comet”.]