we know it our January meeting was here. No more snow and ice
thank goodness! David Howe gave a very amusing talk about the
history of dictionaries. David noticed a box on the wall over
the kitchen door which is labelled "Fire axe" . He said
did we know you could fire an axe? We are surrounded by "words"in
every situation. Their meanings are fascinating. Snitterfield,
for instance, means "Snipe in the field" David told
us of an anecdote in Anthony Eden`s biography when after the General
Election of 1945, which Winston Churchil had lost ,he is reported
as saying "I drove to Snitterfield and phoned Winston, but
what could I say"
Wilmcote is one of the longest place names which has no letter
Most of us think of Dr Johnson as the first dictionary compiler
but the first dictionaries were written as long ago as the 5th
Century BC.The current Oxford English Dictionary has 21 volumes
and is being constantly revised. There are over 200 dictionaries
in Birmingham library including dictionaries of Saints, drink,
quotations, antiques, place names, abbreviations, rhyming slang
and catch phrases, to mention a few.
Definitions of words can be very complex. For example how do you
define "dog"or "mouse" ? An early dictionary
defined them as "common animals known to all "."Oats"
for horses in England, for people in Scotland . "Stateswoman"
a woman who meddles in public affairs. "Privy" a place
of retirement, a necessary house. David illustrated his talk with
many amusing anecdotes and ended with a joke. A man was doing
a crossword when another man rushed in with the news that his
father had died and the crossword solver responded "How many
The next meeting is 9th
February, when John Clews will tell us about the
work of the RSPB.