Serendip is an independent site partnering with faculty at multiple colleges and universities around the world. Happy exploring!

Using Dictionaries: what is the true meaning of the word?

maht91's picture

 It was very interesting to listen to other people's experiences with dictionaries in class. It was also interesting to see how different dictionaries sometimes provide different word definitions especially Urban Dictionary. I found myself placing more trust in older dictionaries and those dictionaries that provide the origin of the word. I also trusted the dictionaries that provided me with an explanation and history with the definition not the definition alone. I find it also more helpful when dictionaries use phrases to explain the definition of the words.

 However, when I was searching for word definitions yesterday, I came across the word Fact. Oxford Dictionary defines Fact as: "a thing that is indisputably the case." Reading this implies that fact is in nature disputable, which means that it is not always possible to reach an agreement on what a fact is or can be defined as, hence it is disputable. Cambridge Dictionary, on the other hand, defines Fact as: "something which is known to have happened or to exist, especially something for which proof exists, or about which there is information." Cambridge Dictionary provided with a more elaborative explanation of the word fact and made me trust their definition more than the definition of Oxford Dictionary.

Another thing is that the words truth, non-fiction, truth, reality and fact are all used to define each other in some way or another. I feel that saying that "this is the truth" is subjective. Both Cambridge and Oxford Dictionaries defined truth as something that is true, and true is defined as "being what it exists, rather than what was thought, intended or stated," "real, actual, genuine, exact, accurate..." and the list goes on. But I still find that the definitions given by the dictionaries of the word true and truth don't satisfy me because you could dig in more and find the definitions of the words that were initially used to define the first words. You also also have many sources and that complicates finding the true meaning of the word.

Dictionaries can be reliable to an extent. I think I would use them to kind of get an idea of what they mean, but I would still doubt the complete reality of the words. It is hard to decide if dictionaries are a form of non-fiction, when you are still trying to find the true meaning of non-fiction.

Comments

Post new comment

The content of this field is kept private and will not be shown publicly.
To prevent automated spam submissions leave this field empty.
9 + 0 =
Solve this simple math problem and enter the result. E.g. for 1+3, enter 4.