inessential by Brent Simmons

Better Words

James Somers (via Gabe Weatherhead, via Michael Tsai) writes about using a better dictionary — and how to get it installed on your Mac, in

Had double-rainbow guy been raised on this older Webster’s, he might have read this:

Besides the ordinary bow, called also primary rainbow, which is formed by two refractions and one reflection, there is also another often seen exterior to it, called the secondary rainbow, concentric with the first, and separated from it by a small interval. It is formed by two refractions and two reflections, is much fainter than the primary bow, and has its colors arranged in the reverse order from those of the latter.

I had never noticed that the second rainbow has its colors in reverse order. This is the quality of eyesight that we want in a dictionary.

I looked up “glass,” and noticed that the default dictionary and this old Webster’s both note that it can be used as a synonym for “to reflect.”

The default dictionary provides this example: “the opposite slopes glassed themselves in the deep dark water.” Which isn’t terrible, but it sticks to the literal pretty closely — while the old Webster’s give us two examples, one literal and one not, to illustrate the range of uses.

Happy to glass themselves in such a mirror. —Motley.

Where the Almighty’s form glasses itself in tempests. —Byron.

(Byron. Wow. I like a metaphor like that because you learn something about both sides, about the Almighty and tempests both.)

This is after two minutes of clicking around. There’s an entire language of rewards in there.

(Tip: the original article suggested p { line-height: 0.7em } — which I think might be a typo. I went with 1.2em.)