Before 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 repeated.

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 letters?

The next meeting is
9th February, when John Clews will tell us about the work of the RSPB.