No, this is not more on Halloween. In fact, it is about how a non-word found it’s way into the Merriam-Webster dictionary in 1934. It wasn’t discovered until 1939 and not corrected until 1947. Crazy, right. Consequently, imaginary words which slip through the cracks and find their way to being printed are called ‘ghost words.’ Fortunately for M-W, it was a one-off in it’s entire 190 year history.
What was that ghost word? It was DORD. Apparantly, in 1931 a 3x5 slip of paper with D or d on it worked it’s way through the pipeline. It had come from the chemistry department and the D meant density. Along the way someone thought there was supposed to be a space between the o and r and capitalized the letters making it D O R D. Every letter of a word was capitalized as well as a space between each. The spaces being used for inflection signs and the like. The unsolved mystery is how DORD ever got passed the etymologist. (An etymologist is a person who studies the origin and meaning of words.) Somehow it did and found it’s way into the published dictionary in 1934. Again, it wasn’t discovered for another 5 years. It was also unknown why it took another 8 years for it to be deleted from the next edition.
Here’s the thing. I say we make DORD a real word. I’ll start.
Dord – Noun – a person who is stubborn, inflexible, unyielding, headstrong, obstinate, iron-willed.
Origin: Dord is the Anglo derivation of the Old Norse word diordki, referring to Viking weaponry and protective armour. In fact, they would wear an iron bowl on their heads which was the forerunner of the helmut. Thus, the breadcrumbs leading to a person who is hard-headed or iron-willed.
Now it’s your turn. What are your ideas for a definition of Dord? Would love to hear them.
Comments are welcomed.