DFW’s Dictionary

Aug 25 2012 @ 11:17am

Previous versions of the Mac Thesaurus contained notes from the Oxford American Writer’s Thesaurus, including tongue-in-cheek entries by David Foster Wallace:

pulchritude. A paradoxical noun because it means beauty but is itself one of the ugliest words in the language. Same goes for the adjectival form pulchritudinous. They’re part of a tiny elite cadre of words that possess the very opposite of the qualities they denote. Diminutive, big, foreign, fancy (adjective), colloquialism, and monosyllabic are some others; there are at least a dozen more. Inviting your school-age kids to list as many paradoxical words as they can is a neat way to deepen their relationship to English and help them see that words are both symbols for things and very real things themselves.

Unfortunately the recent versions lack such entries. By the way, be sure to check out the Beast's excerpt of D.T. Max's new DFW biography, Every Love Story is a Ghost Story, here.