Wordnik is an online interactive dictionary with a mission to include every English word. There are so many! And new ones are being created constantly. If you regard the job of a dictionary to be “gatekeeper of what should and should not be an acceptable word to use,” this idea may not appeal to you. There are plenty of words that people find too slangy, too new, or just too plain unlikeable to seem worthy of a place in a dictionary. But what if the job of a dictionary is to simply describe the natural world, to collect words as they exist out there in the wild and pin them like butterflies in a case for posterity?
That’s what Wordnik wants to do, because “every word deserves a recorded place in our language's history. We want to collect, preserve, and share every word of English, and provide a place where people can find, learn, annotate, comment on, and argue about every word.” After all, “if you're curious about a word, why should you have to wait until someone else decides that a word is worth knowing?”
Wordnik wants to add a million words to its dictionary—which doesn’t seem like such a hard thing to do if you just scrape them off the internet—but they also want to provide definitions for the words, which is a much harder prospect. Lexicographers can spend years coming up with just the right definitions. Wordnik already gets around this problem by looking for ready-made definitions, found in places where the word is defined in a text as it is introduced, such as in this example for bibliobesity, from Terry Teachout in the New York Times:
"The problem of bloated books—bibliobesity, as it were—has always been with us."
Wordnik has just launched a Kickstarter to help automate the hunt for these definitions by training a new machine learning tool to find them on its own. For $25, you can adopt a word. While many words, such as petrichor, wombat, and butt have already found good homes, there are plenty of words left to adopt. Help build a record of English as it is by looking up your own favorite and seeing if it’s still available. As of this writing, here are 19—some old, some new, but all fabulous—you can still choose from.
14. dorkus malorkus
16. cellar door
For more, visit the main Wordnik Kickstarter page here.