Three definitive reasons to use a dictionary

You’re probably in something of a habit of typing obscure words into a search engine to find out what they mean, but how about actually going to get a dictionary off your bookshelf? When did you last do that?

We still think it’s worth doing, and here are three assets the physical dictionary offers to writers this Dictionary Day.

1. Digital detox

You can’t avoid using computers and the internet as a writer in 2021, but it can still be useful to turn away from it all at times. A break from the screen can prevent headaches, eye strain and information overload.

There’s also the argument that computers use electricity, mobile internet eats into your data allowance, and what if your internet goes down? A printed book has none of these issues.

2. Serendipitous discoveries

Look up “serendipitous” in a dictionary and you’ll see it means something beneficial being found without looking for it, and this is a real plus of looking through a dictionary.

You might look up “serendipitous” and see “seraskier” just before it. That’s a commander of the Ottoman Empire – why not make a seraskier the protagonist or antagonist of your next story?

3. Studious surroundings

Have you ever noticed what great writing environment a library is? That’s because it’s designed for reading and writing, with reference material just a bookshelf away. Having a printed dictionary beside you brings a bookish mentality to your work and shows you take it seriously.

Dictionaries contain tens of thousands of words and tell us exactly what they all mean. Which words are your favorites?

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