Friday, October 2, 2009

Get your dictionary on and miggle with me!

"It was early morning, just about the time dawn is too sleepy to get out of bed." ~Pat Novak

Early this morning, I was on Facebook playing Scrabble. I do that every morning. I have a routine while I feed the cats, I make coffee and turn on the computer. By the time I get back to the computer, it is awake, so I open two web browsers. Oh, wait. I can’t tell you my Scrabble secrets.

I log in to Facebook and I play with a friend. We have four games going most of the time. Today I was kicking butt – I’ve been doing better lately. For awhile I was just sort of showing up, you know? I kept having such bad luck, bad draws, bad placement choices: I just threw down little two and three letter words.

I lost a lot of games.

These days, I am back to my sassy self and playing to annihilate win.

This morning, I got a word I hadn’t seen before, but caught my eye right away: miggle. Some of you may recall that I wrote a post about my favorite words and wiggle and giggle are the top two. Naturally, I needed to know what miggle meant so I could use it properly!

I put “miggle” into the Google machine and got approximately nothing. I did get two hints: a game of marbles and a West Indian tea cake or something. I went to Merriam-Webster and they said I would need to subscribe to their unabridged version.

They weren’t giving up miggle for free, folks.

So I went downstairs to the family room bookcase and pulled out my biggest dictionary. I struck out. No miggle.

I hit up Funk & Wagnalls Student Desk Dictionary (the dictionary for Children of the Cold War like myself) and it said a MIG or MiG is a Russian fighter jet. Right…born in the 60s…I knew that already. Thanks.

I opened my last dictionary, which did tell me that a mig is a marble. I wanted more information and as I stood there, I realized I was experiencing a tickle of quiet pleasure, a thrill, a wee buzz. I realized I hadn’t rifled my tips over the pages of a dictionary in a long time. I use the Google machine too much.

I love dictionaries and am the sort of person who would flip through them reading random entries to amuse myself. I play along with the word definition pages in Reader’s Digest. I have dictionaries for difficult words and dictionaries for obscure words. I do crossword puzzles now and then. I play Scrabble at 0-dark-thirty.

This weekend, I vow to do myself a favor and take some time to hold a dictionary in my hand and learn a new word. I can’t promise I will use it, because that’s just a lot of effort in a busy weekend.

I really meant all of that writing about the pleasures of a proper dictionary to transport my readers to another dimension, a time in their lives when we were all at the mercy of the school library, the dictionary and a set of encyclopedias on the shelf.

I don’t think I managed that and it’s a shame. I should try harder. I should have written about how the pages, long-closed and neglected, tickled my nose. I could have waxed poetic about the heft of the book in my hand or running my fingertip down the scallops of letters until I found the M; the flipflipflip of the pages while I tried to find the right combination of letters as the alphabetical programming in my head kicked in and I fondly remembered how much I enjoyed learning how to alphabetize in school.

Sorry about leaving that out. Now to the business at hand: miggle.

I called my local library (LOVE.YOUR.LIBRARY), which is currently running a theme called Geek Your Library and I think I should get a poster or a billboard of my own for how excited I was when she found it for me.

I called the reference desk and she looked up miggle in their unabridged dictionary. I suspect this was an online reference, because she did it in a flash without putting me on hold. She sort of found it, but the entry didn’t make sense to either of us: “dial constr.” So she offered to look in the OED…in the 20-volume Oxford English Dictionary.

Right on! That’s firepower!

It wasn’t in there, but she did find it in the Random House/Webster’s unabridged dictionary, 2nd ed. 2001 (I need to give them props for having the word!). She called me back and I was smiling and giddy. We were both so surprised it wasn’t in the OED.
Miggle: a playing marble, especially one not used as a shooter. Miggles: the game of marbles. Common usage: 1890-1895.

C’mon everybody, grab a dictionary and find a word!


Rose said...

Oh, I love dictionaries too. I just checked and mine does not have it...

Badass Geek said...

I'm not so good at Scrabble. I've played against Aunt Becky on Facebook a few times... and lost.

Aunt Becky said...

That's right, BAG, I BEAT YOU. And then The Daver beat the snot out of me. So it goes. And so it goes.

MyMaracas said...

You are a woman after my own heart. I was right there with you, sharing the fun of tracking down that elusive word.

At a library sale once, I had a shot at an old, leather-bound unabridged dictionary, the huge kind that occupies a stand all by itself. It was only five bucks, but the leather had white mildew and I was afraid it would infect the rest of my books or worse. It killed me to leave it behind.

As for your challenge to open a dictionary and find a new word, I've just learned this one: Vigesimal.

Thanks for the great post!

dsmcaron said...

Time for a Scrabble showdown, kids?

MyMaracas: I can think of 20 reasons to love that word. ;)

Thanks for checking, Rose! I've been doing the same thing. lol