The Oxford English Dictionary
has long been known as the definitive record of the English language. Not as well known, however, is the book's fascinating history. The OED took 70 years to put together, and relied heavily on volunteers to help define its 414,825 words. One of the most prolific contributors, with over 10,000 entries, was an American physician named William Chester Minor, who also happened to be locked up in an insane asylum. A murderer and paranoiac, Minor's philological endeavors with the OED gave him a sense of purpose and helped him retain what sanity he had left.
Now, you too have a chance to show off your mad lexicographical skills with Words & Pizza
, a game night where two teams of local authors, journalists, and audience members go head to head in a rousing game of Dictionary.
For those who've never played, it works like this: Audience members choose an obscure word, then both teams have to define it. Points are awarded for correct definitions, but -- perhaps more importantly -- laughs are awarded for incorrect ones. Team Phraser is headed by New York Times' bestselling author Laura Fraser, Jeff Greenwald, and Andrew Sean Greer. Team Lexicle Lemurs includes University of Oxford alum Pireeni Sundaralingam, Ken Grobe, and Elise Proulx. Bring your imagination and your appetite -- tickets, which must be purchased in advance, include Club Deluxe Pizza and drinks.
Words & Pizza starts at 7 p.m. at The Booksmith. Admission is $20.
1644 Haight, San Francisco, CA