Monday, February 28, 2011

Revive DORD!

In 1939 a ghost word was outed from its hiding place on page 771 in the New Websters International Dictionary.
That word was Dord. Which had started life when the lexicon's chemistry editor used the four letters, 'D' or 'd', for a note that was an abbreviation for density in chemistry terms.
A ghost word comes into language as a typo or some other mistake.
A misinterpretation saw the note being read as Dord, meaning density. It was then registered as a noun and added at the time, where it languished for five years within the cozy D pages of the tome until it was finally noticed by a studious editor in 1939 to have no etymology and after an investigation was banished. A world war was starting and this guy was looking for obscure little D words?

Banished. But Dord was innocent. Didn't ask to be born into the respected, hallowed realm of Websters. Dord was only the Eliza Doolittle thrust into the cultured library of Professor Henry Higgins. Dord was not given the chance to become something. To be refined by 'enry 'iggens into a Fair Lady. (there was a colour in the 70s called Enry Iggins Just You White.)

Perhaps, with a little bit of luck Dord could still mean a form of density. It sounds right if we use it for a dense person, as in, "He's a dord."
And still following the density thread, it could mean an intricate entanglement. Like those financial bank criminals involved in a labyrinth of crimes. "They are in a dord of trouble."
It could mean a reverse density, like a Dalmation dog which are said to have no brains, "He's as dordy as a Dalmation."
Maybe even find it's way into song? 'Lordy Lordy Lordy you're a dordy!' What could Bob Dylan do with dord?

Whatever it is used to represent, dord should be revived. We have been unfair to it. We could refer to it right now, after all these years, as 'dormant as a dord.' But that might be cruel.
It should become the Little Word that Could. We need more four letter words, banish deutomerite if you must. It means, the posterior segment of the trophozoite of certain gregarines. .... er, no one even eats gregarines any more!

After over seventy years. dord needs to reappear. Perhaps we could elevate the poor word somehow, get Stephen Hawking to assign the meaning of a human impulse flashing across the universe as a Dord! Now that would give it dignity.

We have lost too many life things by meddling with them. Pluto is gone from our space in an unsuffering swoop. The Passenger Pigeon is extinct. Malaya, with it's wonderful suggestion of British rubber plantations and Oriental intrigue is no more. And whatever happened to Oswald Rabbit?
Other trembling dords are hiding in the crevices of our history. They don't reside on the street where you live. What's next? Being embrangled in a vilipend of fusby words?

Perhaps the niddering people who commit these indecencies should be called Dords and be banished themselves.

Revive Dord. It's important.



  1. Cater, you will never be a DORD! lol

  2. Anonymous12:29 pm

    Lordy Lordy Looks whose Dordy...I'm not sure if it will catch on but I think I am going to start using it just because.


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