The 3rd edition of the American Heritage Concise Dictionary is a garden variety dictionary. Many dictionaries have been published before this particular dictionary, and many have been published since, either in physical or digital formats. Regardless, a dictionary is a dictionary is a dictionary.
The cover of the 3rd edition of the American Heritage Dictionary boasts "Includes over 70,000 entries, and 400 photographs". Surely, most dictionaries include about the same number of words and pictures. Striking is the word to picture ratio. Only one in every 175 words is accompanied by a picture. Who chooses which of the lucky 400 words, out of 70,000, get a picture? And what is the process?
The first picture in the 3rd edition of the American Heritage Dictionary is accompanies the the word “abscissa,” defined as “The coordinate representing the position of a point along a line perpendicular to the y-axis in a plane Cartesian coordinate system.” An abscissa, as demonstrated by the sketched picture nearby, is just two boring old lines intersecting. Some opening act, huh!? The word(s) "abominable snowman" precedes abscissa, and ABOMINABLE SNOWMAN doesn’t get the first picture?! What about "A-bomb", "or abscess"? Nope, two intersecting lines are the opening lines of this riveting novel.
The final picture of the ACH Dictionary is that of Zhou Enial: “(A) Chinese revolutionary and politician.” There're the grand finale. folks. Of the hundreds of historical figures included in this dictionary, Zhou Enial gets one of the small handfuls of pictures. Another one is James Buchannan. Not Abraham friggin' Lincoln or Ben friggin' Franklin…James Buchannan.
Here are a few more of the pictures in the 3rd edition of the American Heritage Dictionary: an "auk" (a diving sea bird), a "bit" (as in a tool bit), "Fidel Castro" (oppressive dictator), a "centaur" (the half man, half horse-this one is actually pretty cool!), a "crele" (wicker basket used to carry fish), a "dovetail" (a fan-shaped tenor-duh!), two pictures differentiating between a "flamenco" dancer and a "flamingo", a "glockenspiel" (no dictionary is complete without a picture of a glockenspiel), a "heron" (we already got a flamingo-a waste of a picture), a "hurdy gurdy" (another instrument, not the Donovan song), a "knot" (in case you idiots didn’t know what a goddamn knot looks like), a "lute" (what is it with whimsical instruments?), "Pan" (the mythological character as opposed to the kitchen utensil), a "recorder" (another instrument, but the picture is that of a boy playing a recorder, which is unfair to the instrument. this could easily be the picture for “boy”), a "stovepipe hat" (awesome!), a "tadpole" (in three different stages of growth, mind you), "transit" (a surveying apparatus...a fucking surveying apparatus), a "turnbuckle" (but not a picture of George the Animal Steel eating one), "Marin Van Buren"…okay, you get the idea.
How did these words make the cut and gain visual inclusion in the 3rd edition of the American Heritage Dictionary? Were 70,000 words introduced one-by-one, and the most deserving 400 pocked? Did a group of American Heritage Dictionary board members huddle around a table and argue over which words got pictures? “Goddammit, if James Buchannan, a hurdy gurdy, and a turnbuckle don’t get pictures you can consider THAT my resignation.” Honestly, were the 400 pictures the most beneficial to readers? “What the hell does a knot look like? Sure, I can READ the definition but if only there was a PICTURE too!”
The 3rd edition of the American Heritage Dictionary is knot a spellbinding graphic novel. See picture.