License or Licence: Don’t be afraid of using the dictionary

Recently, I’ve found license used in two books when licence should have been used instead.

It got me thinking about dictionaries and why people find it off-putting to be seeing picking one up. If you work with words — author, blogger, editor, proofreader, whoever — there’s an expectation that you should know these things off the top of your head.

Some days I totally do, and some days I’m so steeped in something else, that dragging myself out of it to deal with someone else’s spelling issues takes what seems to be a Herculean effort. Which is about when I tell them to use a dictionary and I get this weird look — like, I don’t want to be seen picking up a dictionary not to mention, Why don’t you know these things?


There’s also, I feel, this idea that if you’re a certain age you really should know things about words when kids ask. Which is a nice idea and all, and works, but don’t be afraid to look up a word with your kid.

Teach them not to be afraid of needing a dictionary — arguably the most helpful book anyone is EVER going to read.

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