January 18 is Thesaurus Day

Today is Thesaurus Day. It celebrates the birthday on January 18, 1779, of Peter Roget, who published his Thesaurus of English Words and Phrases in 1852, at the age of 72.

Thesaurus DayAccording to Joshua Kendall’s biography, The Man Who Made Lists, Roget was compelled from an early age to create lists and tally objects to bring order to a chaotic childhood filled with mentally ill family members, including an uncle who cut his own throat and died in Roget’s arms.

Roget’s obsessions followed him into adulthood. He found that counting things gave him comfort and noted, ” I every day go up at least 320 steps.” He marveled at his ability to control the movement of his own irises.

He found Paris filthy but admired the precision of Napoleon’s military parades. Later, as a doctor in his native England, he helped introduce lifesaving public health policy in Manchester. The city’s squalor drove him to spend his evenings composing the synonymic word lists that would eventually make up the Thesaurus.

He never intended it as a book of synonyms: he felt there was “really no such thing” because of the unique meaning of every word. Instead, it was an elaborate system of 1,000 lists meant to spur readers to higher levels of scholarship. The index he added, almost as an afterthought, is the only part that most people use. He continued to revise and update it until his death at the age of 90.

To honor Thesaurus Day, we consulted it for a synonym for “synonym.” We found “analogue,” “equivalent” and the obviously trying-too-hard “metonym.”

What about synonyms for “thesaurus?” Along with “glossary” and “lexicon,” we found less worthy terms such as “sourcebook” and “reference book.” Our favorite? “Onomasticon.” Try to sneak that into a sentence today and have a happy Thesaurus Day!

Copyright © 2017 Worldwide Weird Holidays

September 22 is Hobbit Day

Today is Hobbit Day, the longest-runniHobbit Dayng holiday celebrated by fans of J.R.R. Tolkien’s Middle Earth Cycle books, The Hobbit and Lord Of The Rings. It originated in 1973 after Tolkien’s death on September 2 of that year.

It honors the birthdays of characters Bilbo and Frodo Baggins, which occurred on the same date in 2890 and 2968, respectively. There is some disagreement among readers about the specific date.

The Gregorian calendar would place it on September 14, but Tolkien once stated that the Shire calendar is ahead by about ten days, depending on the month.

In 1978, the official date of the Long Awaited Party was fixed as September 22 by the Tolkien Society, which also happens to fall one day after  was published on September 21, 1937.

It is part of Tolkien Week, observed on the calendar week containing Hobbit Day. Festivities around the globe include feasts, costume parties, reenactments, exchange of gifts and cards and fireworks.

Happy Hobbit Day!

Copyright 2016 Worldwide Weird Holidays


Banished Words List Day of 2015

banished words list daySince 1976, Lake Superior State University (LSSU) has issued an annual List of Words Banished from the Queen’s English for Mis-Use, Over-Use or General Uselessness. LSSU accepts nominations for banishment from around the globe, covering all manner of words and phrases worthy of exile.

Without further ado, we bring you the Banished Words List of 2015

Polar vortex
Skill Set
Cra-cra (cray-cray)
Enhanced interrogation
____-Nation (sports)

Our Favorites from 2014

Selfie (named Word of the Year by Oxford Dictionary!)
_____ On Steroids
_____ –Ageddon

Words and phrases banished in previous years include: Pre-Plan, Quality Time (’85); Conferenced, Free Gift (`88); Infotainment, Forced Relaxation (’89); Minor Emergency Clinic,  A Mind is a Terrible Thing to Waste (’90); My Bad, Talk to the Hand (’98); Metrosexual, Companion Animals (’04); Gitmo, We’re Pregnant (’07); Man Cave, Pet Parent (’12).

University officials note that even with this year’s focus on elections, most entries do not concern politics. Nominations for the 2016 list roll in via e-mail at a steady pace from the fields of academia, advertising, business, the military, sports, as well as politics.

We can’t wait to see the newest entries!

Copyright 2016 Worldwide Weird Holidays