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OK, people, I think we need a new rule here. To my mind, a collection of letters that can’t be pronounced other than by saying each of its letters individually is not a real word and does not belong in the main section of a dictionary. ABC is one of those collections of letters.

The New Penguin English Dictionary includes ABC in its primary section, the one it labels simply “The Dictionary”, so, by the rules I’ve set out for myself, I’ll comment on it here, but I don’t think it’s fair. The dictionary has a section covering common abbreviations in the back. I’m not planning to address the entries in that section. Why couldn’t they put ABC there and saved me this work?

I know; I know. ABC isn’t an abbreviation in the normal sense of the word, but if it looks like a duck, waddles like a duck, and quacks like a duck, it’s a duck. Not that ducks have anything to do with it. You might not have recognized it as such, but that duck reference was a metaphor. At least, I think it was a metaphor, but I haven’t gotten to the M words yet, so I’m not absolutely certain. The point is, if they had put ABC into the abbreviations section I doubt very many people would have complained about it, and I certainly would have welcomed it.

With that rant out of the way, according to the dictionary, ABC means the alphabet, as in, “I’m learning my ABCs.” Considering how many people are functionally illiterate, I think some people are lying when they say that. Plus, I suspect that they say ABC only because they can’t think of the word alphabet off the top of their heads.

ABC also means the fundamental elements of a subject. For example, one might say, “Words and definitions are the ABCs of dictionary composition.” One might say that, but he or she would likely get some askance looks as a result because who the hell talks like that?

Despite my qualms about ABC appearing in the main section of the dictionary, I am thrilled to have reached it. You see, ABC is the last word on the first page of the dictionary I’m using.

Once I’ve finished this entry I will be one page down and just … Oh, crap! 1,095 to go. I’d better pick up the pace, hadn’t I?

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