Tag Archives: week three

Annoyance One: Dictionary Definitions

A short series, I will try to post a new one each week. They will simply be things I find annoying, and an effort to get your responses on the topic.

There is nothing more annoying to me when listening to someone make a speech than when they say, “The Oxford/Macquarie/Webster (insert preferred Dictionary brand) Dictionary defines this as…”

Ok, I understand what you are trying to do there: provide a clear picture of what is it you are talking about and yes in some situations this can be necessary- when debating the meaning of a word like ‘love’ perhaps – but when you are simply talking about a literary device like metaphor? Kind of unnecessary.

Unless you think your audience fell out of the ass end of god knows where, or they are 4 years old, I would hope you would give them the common decency of not demoralising them with an explanation of a simple concept taught in primary school.

Now you may question me with some post-modernist crap of “But what is a chair really?” and to you I say, unless your speech is from a post modern framework, get lost.

I don’t mind if you clarify concepts like:

1. This is a metaphor
2. The metaphor is that the pig is represented as if it is a human

Or even:

1. I like cheese
2. When I refer to cheese I mean the cow’s milk by-product

It is more the phrase “The (XYZ) Dictionary defines (XYZ) as…” that after enough repetition, saturation and misuse makes me want to rip off your head and watch it spurt blood.

So please…don’t dictionary define.



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