Sue Walker's Dictionary Bibliography

Mark Twain said “The difference between the right word and the almost right word is the difference between lightning and a lightning bug.” 

Mark Twain, The Wit and Wisdom of Mark Twain


1.  MRS. BYRNE’S DICTIONARY OF UNUSUAL, OBSCURE, AND PREPOSTEROUS WORDS  (Gathered from numerous and diverse authoritative Sources by Mrs. Byrne.) This book was published in 1974 – but I absolutely LOVE this book and recommend it to my students.  he book is an ultimate source of Galliardis— Great merriment.  And it also has fantastic Bibliography – namely THE DEVIL’S DICTIONARY by Ambrose Bierce.


2.  WHISTLIN’ DIXIE: A DICTIONARY OF SOUTHERN EXPRESSIONS by Robert Hendrickson.  The title is self-explanatory.  It gives me favorite words like “hassle.” It was once used to mean “pant noisily like a dog” – but it is now has national usage and is a synonym for quarrel or trouble.  I also love “ ankle express” – which means going by foot, i.e. walking – what you do when the car’s broken down. Take the ankle express to the Botanical Gardens.

3.  THE SUPERIOR PERSON’S BOOK OF WORDS, by Peter Bowler.  So as not to be “Acerebral” (adj)  -- without a brain, this book is educational – or as Flannery O’Connor would say keeps “our education from being a burden” – or a slubberdegullion (noun) – a slob.”   I think I might be give to “slubberdeguillioness” from time to time. 

4.   THE MEANING OF TINGO AND OTHER EXTRAORDINARY WORDS FROM AROUND THE WORLD by Stephen Fry.  Fry says that “no well-stocked bookshelf, cistern-top or handbag should be without this book.  The month of April in the Inuit calendar is “natsijjat” – the proper month for sea pups to be born. 

5. THE THINKER’S THESAURUS by Peter E. Meltzer.  The book says that it is the “sophisticated alternative to common words.” 

6.  DICTIONARY OF GODS AND GODDESSES, DEVILS AND DEMONS by Manfred Lurker.  Fagus is the Pyrenean tree-god venerated in Roman Times. As the name suggests, the tree in question was the beech, worshipped as divine.  I think there must be a Goddess, Magnolia.  Careful.  If you touch the blossoms,  they bruise.

Pick a word and launch a paragraph, story, a poem.