Friday, June 27, 2003

A Genuine $25 Word

For reasons best left unexplained, I went to look up odiferous at the other day and received this message:

1 entry found for odiferous.


( P ) odiferous: log in for this definition of odiferous and other entries in Webster's Millennium™ Dictionary of English, available only to Premium members.

Another sign that the dot-com, information-wants-to-be-free era is nearing final philosophical collapse. My first reaction, and this will sound daft or elitist or conspiracy-theory-riffic, was that only the really fancy, New Yorker style words were considered Premium, and that simpler words would remain free. So I typed in stinky and malodorous, and both had free definitions! In fact, I went on to enter a half-dozen more words -- desultory, lachrymose, sybarite, pulchritude and sobriquet -- and they all had free definitions too.

I’m not sure what it all means, but (wait for it) something doesn’t smell right here. Maybe it’s time to finally buy myself a real-time dictionary.