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Resident McNeill Designs’ “word nerd” takes a field trip to word-haven Merriam-Webster HQ

October 27, 2009

Don learns new wordsOn Monday, I had the privilege of visiting the Merriam-Webster’s headquarters in Springfield, Massachusetts to meet with John Morse, Merriam-Webster’s president and publisher, James Withgott, Vice President, and Hilary Hoffman.

Walking through the massive front doors, I was immediately struck by the overwhelming sense of history embodied in that enormous brick building. America’s first dictionary was produced by none other than Noah Webster in 1806 and was entitled A Compendious Dictionary of the English Language.

Merriam-Webster can be considered the direct lexicographical heir of Noah Webster, because in 1843, the Merriam-Webster company bought the rights to the 1841 edition of Webster’s magnum opus. Since then, the company has grown and adapted with the changing times – from pocket dictionaries, to electronic dictionaries, to websites designed just for children. And yet, Merriam-Webster has remained a true piece of Americana. I mean, who hasn’t had a red Merriam-Webster dictionary at their desk since the third grade?!

For a self-confessed word nerd like me, this visit was truly a thrill! I got to explore the firm’s amazing collection of dictionaries through the last 160 years, which were displayed in a hand crafted glass and wood case that was larger than my living room and most likely cost more than my house. I also got to learn first-hand how new words are added with each evolution of the dictionary — something I had always wondered about!

But the most exciting part was discussing the potential of future collaborative efforts between the great folks at Merriam-Webster and McNeill Designs. On the table was a new game venture (still hush-hush), as well as the potential for a joint effort in the new interactive white board application of You’ve been Sentenced! created by Arizona State University.

Partnering with the leader in defining the English language, the true American word authority, would be a dream come true! Will it happen? Stay tuned!

Want to learn more about McNeill Designs for Brighter Minds’ award-winning games like You’ve been Sentenced!Twisted Fish and more? Visit McNeill Designs for game rulesprintable score sheets, or even order online!

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