I sincerely enjoy a good dictionary. I use a hardcover American Heritage edition a couple of times a week, the Merriam- Webster app or a paid Kindle version of several foreign language dictionaries often, and online lookups almost every day.
Recently, I was disappointed by Merriam- Webster online. I looked up “immolation,” mostly because it’s the kind of word whose correct spelling I prefer to confirm before using it in a post. Here’s what M-W had to say:
I have to ask: seriously? This is the best definition you can provide?
If I don’t know what immolation means, I probably also don’t know the meaning of immolating or immolated, without which knowledge I can get no use from this definition.
And the example provides no new clues. Well, except that Aztecs performed “bloody” immolations, which still leaves the reader free to imagine any number of possible meanings.
In an age when most of the students I know prefer to “ask Siri” instead of looking up unknown words for themselves, I’d like to see Merriam- Webster and other dictionaries proving their worth at every opportunity.
I think this is one definition that could be done by Merriam-Webster much better.