Do you still use a printed dictionary? I do. With increasing frequency, however, I look up words online. I rarely use my printed thesaurus. It’s much easier with the computer. That got me thinking. Are reference books becoming obsolete? Although it makes me sad to think so, I think the answer is yes.

When is the last time any of us used a printed encyclopedia? I can’t remember. Although I have the Encyclopedia Britannica from when I was a kid, it’s there for nostalgia. I haven’t opened a volume in years.

On the other hand, when I’m deciding on a name for my characters, I do page through my book of baby names. The same goes for some of my sci-fi or fantasy elements. I frequently refer to my books and notes on witches and spaceships and castles.

Of course, I have many books on writing – how to write dialogue or description or set a scene. These are all highlighted and bookmarked, and I do refer to them.

The same goes for my bible. It has notes and underlines and tabs and turned down pages. It wouldn’t feel the same to me to read a bible online.

I also like to be surrounded by my dictionaries and reference books when I’m writing at my desk. It makes me feel at home and in my element.

What about you? I’d love to hear from you on this topic.



3 Responses to Dictionaries?

  1. lynnefisher says:

    Love this! My set up is very similar to yours, but I don’t use the thesaurus on word, I dip into a physical copy I have handy. I DO look up synonyms all the time online. Encyclopedia, I can barely spell (just had to look it up ;>), let alone use, but I still have one by me. Like you I have books on shelves around my writing desk to draw upon for craft etc (with markers in), and they do make one feel at home and nurtured. I agree about the bible, though i only have a wee one for literary referencing or looking something up out of curiousity. Thank you for sharing your workspace :>)

    Liked by 2 people

  2. I use my French to English dictionary sometimes when I’m doing translations, when the online one just doesn’t cut it… but that’s about all now. I still haven’t passed on my dictionaries though and I’m not sure why not. One of my favourite sites has always been dictionary.com as they have such fascinting ‘words of the day’ and all sorts. I could spend hours there…I guess there are worse guilty secrets? I could spend hours there…

    Liked by 1 person

    • I agree about dictionary.com. I recently subscribed to their word-of-the-day and just wrote a post about it. My guilty secret: when I was a teenager, I used to open the dictionary to a random page to learn new words, and then check them off in the margin.


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