Daily TWiP ArchivesSomething interesting has happened on (just about) every day of the year, and Daily TWiP provides the proof. An offshoot of my local events column The Week in Preview (affectionately known as TWiP), Daily TWiP was published April 2008-Aug. 2011 and is still giving readers reasons to celebrate.
More in "Daily TWiP"
- Daily TWiP - Oct. 23: National Mole Day
- Daily TWiP - June 18: International Picnic Day
- Daily TWiP - June 30, 1859: The Great Blondin crosses Niagara Falls on a tightrope
- Daily TWiP - Dec. 1, 1761: Famed wax sculptor Madame Tussaud born
- Daily TWiP - Dec. 4: National Cookie Day
- Daily TWiP - Oct. 8: National Fluffernutter Day
- Daily TWiP - Sept. 7, 1936: "Benjamin," the last thylacine, dies
- Daily TWiP - Nov. 12, 1933: First photograph of the Loch Ness Monster taken
- Daily TWiP - April 1, 1957: The BBC pulls off its infamous spaghetti tree hoax
- Daily TWiP - April 11, 1954: The most boring day of the 20th century
- Daily TWiP - May 3, 1978: The first spam email is sent
- Daily TWiP - Feb. 28, 1939: The non-word “dord” is discovered in Webster’s New International Dictionary
- Daily TWiP - March 3, 1931: "The Star-Spangled Banner," set to the tune of an English drinking song, becomes the U.S. national anthem
- Daily TWiP - May 16, 1777: The American with the most valuable autograph is fatally wounded in a duel
- Daily TWiP - May 25: Towel Day and Geek Pride Day
- Daily TWiP - June 30: National Ice Cream Soda Day
- Daily TWiP - July 22: Spoonerism Day
- Daily TWiP - Aug. 13: International Left-Handers' Day
- Daily TWiP - Aug. 23, 1784: The short-lived state of Franklin declares its independence from North Carolina
- Daily TWiP - Feb. 5, 1897: The Indiana General Assembly unanimously votes to change the value of pi
- Daily TWiP - March 10: International Day of Awesomeness and Chuck Norris' birthday
- Daily TWiP - Jan. 25: National Irish Coffee Day
- Daily TWiP - Nov. 30, 1954: Ann Hodges becomes the first person hit by a meteorite
- Daily TWiP - Oct. 6, 1582 does not happen in certain countries
- Daily TWiP - Sept. 17, 1859: Joshua A. Norton declares himself Emperor of the United States
- Daily TWiP - Sept. 30, 2004: First images of a live giant squid in its natural habitat are taken
- Daily TWiP - Aug. 27, 1896: The shortest war in recorded history is fought
- Daily TWiP - July 30, 1419: Czechs chuck politicians (literally) during the First Defenestration of Prague
- Daily TWiP - July 21, 356 B.C.: Herostratus destroys one of the Seven Wonders of the World to ensure his own fame
- Daily TWiP - May 14: National Dance Like A Chicken Day
- Daily TWiP - Jan. 26, 2004: Dead whale unexpectedly explodes in Tainan, Taiwan
- Daily TWiP - Jan. 8, 1835: U.S. national debt hits zero for the first and only time
Daily TWiP – Feb. 28, 1939: The non-word “dord” is discovered in Webster’s New International Dictionary
Even lexicographers make mistakes. An editor at Merriam-Webster discovered a big one Feb. 28, 1939 when he realized the word “dord,” which had been included in the second edition of Webster’s New International Dictionary, didn’t have an etymology. A bit of research soon revealed that “dord” was not, in fact, an actual word.
The error was traced back to a new abbreviation for the letter “D” submitted by Austin M. Patterson, the dictionary’s chemistry editor. The slip read “d or D, cont./density,” which meant that density should be added to list of words that can be abbreviated by a lowercase or uppercase “D.”
Headwords on slips were typed with a space between each letter, so “D or d” looked like “D o r d.” The slip was somehow filed as a word instead of an abbreviation and subsequently added to the dictionary as “dord,” with the definition of “density.”
The non-word made it past proofreaders and into print, appearing on page 771 in the second edition of Webster’s New International Dictionary, snuggled between “Dorcopsis” (“a genus of small kangaroos of Papua”) and “dore” (“golden in color”).
The second edition was published in 1934, giving “dord” a peaceful yet uneventful five years as a legitimate word (it never entered into common use) before its lack of etymology triggered warning bells for an editor. The non-word was officially struck from the pages of the 1940 edition of Webster’s New International Dictionary and “density” was added as an additional meaning for the abbreviation “D or d” as originally intended.
It was apparently hard, however, for Merriam-Webster to say goodbye to “dord,” as the non-word can be found in copies of the dictionary printed well into the 1940s. Even Philip Gove, a New Hampshirite and Merriam-Webster editor who penned a letter of explanation regarding the error to “American Speech” in 1954, seemed sad to see it go.
“It’s probably too bad,” he wrote, “for why shouldn’t ‘dord’ mean density?”
– Teresa Santoski
Originally published Feb. 28, 2011.