Grandma’s dictionary

I have been given my Grandma’s dictionary. It is my most treasured possession. It is an incredible thing, and a mystery.

Grandma’s dictionary is a handmade dictionary. The vast majority of the words it contains are between 2 and 4 letters, and most are obscure. They cover 75 pages. They are grouped by their first letter but are not in alphabetical order within the letter groups. Revisions have been made to some of the definitions.

The book is a lined pad of paper, reinforced with string. The outside covers have cloth pasted onto them, and the inside covers have wallpaper pasted onto them.

The first page of the dictionary
The first page of the dictionary

Grandma’s dictionary is a mystery. No one in the family remembers seeing before it was found in her house, after she died. It might well have been made while Grandma was in domestic service. We speculate that Grandma collected these words for playing Scrabble or for doing crosswords, both of which she loved. I wonder if she got the words and definitions from crosswords, though they might have come from another dictionary. Whatever the purpose, Grandma was educating herself after leaving school at 14. I think we could discover more about when the dictionary was made by looking at the definitions and seeing when they were current.

I plan to document every page online, so people can see the dictionary wherever they are, and make sure it goes to a good home when I’m no longer here either.

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