Lesson of the Day: ‘Latin Dictionary’s Journey: A to Zythum in 125 Years (and Counting)’

Lesson of the Day: ‘Latin Dictionary’s Journey: A to Zythum in 125 Years (and Counting)’

Where do you go to find the meanings of words? Has this changed over time? How often do you look up the meanings of unfamiliar words? What advice do you have for young students who are frequently exposed to unfamiliar words? How can they get over any resistance they might have about looking up those words?

2) Create a dictionary entry for a favorite word.

Do you have a favorite word? Is there one word that always strikes you as funny? Is there a word that makes you feel smart? What word do you find most beautiful or ugly?

Imagine that all dictionaries have been destroyed. And you have been hired to help construct a new one.

Choose one word that you think should be in the first edition of this new dictionary.

Include in your entry:

  • The origins and roots of the word (Latin, Greek or other)

  • A definition — in your own words

  • Two sample sentences using your word — one you have created yourself and one that has appeared in The New York Times

  • An explanation for why you think this word should be included in what would become the world’s only dictionary

If you are inspired, create an illustration to accompany your entry.

Here are some free online dictionaries to help you:




Teachers, if you are doing this activity in a class setting, you might consider having your students share their entries and then compiling them in a class dictionary.

Answers to the bonus question from the warm-up activity:

Animal — Root: anim; Meaning: life, spirit

Collaborate — Root: lab; Meaning: work

Extraordinary — Root: extra, extro; Meaning: outside, beyond

Popular — Root: pop: Meaning: people

Submarine — Root: sub: Meaning: under, lower than, inferior to

Vision — Root: vis, vid; Meaning: see

Source: https://www.learnthat.org/pages/view/roots.html