This Week’s Reference News Round-Up


Good day butter lambs! It’s the end of a long week and I’m celebrating by kicking up my heels and digging in to the wordy news of the week. Have a great weekend and enjoy these articles.

And hey, if you like these, drop me a line and I’ll send you an email newsletter brimming with more articles. Don’t worry, I won’t share your email or spam you with other digital irritations. I’m not really set up for that anyhow.

Story of the week:

Merriam-Webster is Watching “Metal”
Metal has been a noun in good standing since the 13th century, and has been used attributively for most of that time, but as these examples show, these days it’s acting like a full-on adjective.

And here are some more ….

Dictionary Picks a Word Most People Have Never Heard of as Word of the Year
An Australian dictionary has chosen “milkshake duck” as its word of 2017, though after the announcement most people said they had never heard of the term. Born in the twittersphere, the word describes an overnight social media sensation whose viral support rapidly dissolves with closer scrutiny.

Merriam-Webster,, and Others Reveal their Words of 2017
Like the Time magazine “person of the year,” words of the year pronouncements  are more exercises in highlighting current societal trends than they are momentous awards.

Thousands Petition Junior Dictionary over Nature Words
More than 50,000 people have signed a petition calling for the Oxford Junior Dictionary to reinstate words related to the natural world.

‘Sycophant’: Mike Pence Provides Teachable Moment for
“There’s a word for a person who would praise someone every 12 seconds,”’s Twitter account posted Thursday, before linking to the dictionary’s entry for “sycophant.

Youthquake, Feminism, Complicit: These Words Defined 2017 
From “feminism” to “youthquake” and “fake news,” these are the words that defined 2017, according to your favorite dictionaries.

Japanese Dictionary’s Definition of “LGBT” Draws Criticism for Inaccuracy on the “T” Part

Critics call for revision to brand-new edition of one of Japan’s most trusted and influential language resources.

Words We’re Watching: ‘Doggo’
Is Merriam-Webster leading the charge to refer to dogs as doggos? Not exactly, but they are keeping an eye on its use.

In This Dictionary Online, for Each Word a Limerick Rhyme
NPR host Noel King offers up news of a mission to rewrite the dictionary in limericks. The online database started as a joke, but it’s gotten nearly 100,000 entries since 2004.

Van Containing 1830s Johnson’s Dictionaries Stolen in Norwich
Police have warned people against buying a pair of 19th Century dictionaries which were in a van which was stolen. The Johnson’s dictionaries, which are worth about £300, date back to the 1830s and were in a delivery van which was stolen in Aylesbury Close, Norwich. Norfolk Police said they were “not the sort of thing you see every day.”

Want more Reference News Roundups? Look through our archives!

“Feeling the Burn” of Adolescence

Here at the Anachronist Reference Library, we not only quote liberally from the reference books in our collection, we’re also writing works of our own … albeit very, very slowly. Hence the following entry from one of our long-range projects — a sort of an encyclopedia of hard rock and heavy metal  — a book from which we’ll be sharing excerpts from time to time.


Credit: Wikimedia Commons

Adolescent / Adolescence

In general, adolescence is defined simply as “growing up,” therefore, an adolescent is one who is in this process of transformation from a child to an adult. In psychological terms, however, “an individual may be said to enter adolescence when he or she no longer views him or herself as a child (and no longer wishes to be treated as such) or when others begin to expect more mature behavior from him or her than they do from a child.” And what happens when the adolescent who wishes to be treated as an adult is handled like a child by his or her parents, or when adults expect greater maturity from an adolescent who doesn’t yet possess it? You guessed it, alienation, angst, and rebellion.

Hence Jeffrey Arnett’s assertion in his book Metalheads that, “If heavy metal music did not exist, adolescents would have to invent it, or some comparable way of declaring their alienation.” For this metal critic, adolescence is a period in which young people begin to see the “the imperfections of adult society and the hypocrisy inherent in much of adult life,” and metal, which flies a triumphant middle finger in the face of social respectability, becomes the base from which adolescent rebels can launch their attack.

Youthful passions burn bright, of course—indeed, my Webster’s dictionary defines the Latin root of adolescent, adolescere, as “[to] be kindled, burn”—and it’s been noted that the young artists who’ve been able to tap into their adolescent (or maybe post-adolescent) rage, regardless of its legitimacy, have made some of metal’s best albums. As Gylve “Fenriz” Nagell (of Norwegian black metal favorite Darkthrone) puts it in Albert Mudrian’s Precious Metal:

You know the simplest thing in the world is for white kids that are a little bit troubled to go really pompous on it all—like you get a splinter in your finger and suddenly you have a whole grindcore album. That’s how it is—adolescence and early 20s—I guess people feel really strongly in their lives at the time. Most artists, they make their most vital music early and spend the next 20 years sucking.

Could it be those “grown up” metal artists “suck” because they have lost the passions of their youth? It’s an interesting question ….

It’s been said (in various ways) that, “As long as there are angry teenagers, metal will have an audience.” It’s not clear, however, whether this means that metal artists are sensitive to the trials and tribulations of youth or that, commercial pressures in the music industry being what they are, record companies are banking on them. I don’t mean to be so cynical, but one can’t read a statement like, “Despite being old enough to be my father, [Ozzy] spoke to my adolescent angst, fueling my middle-class rebellion,” from Black Sabbath and Philosophy editor William Irwin, and not get at least a little suspicious.