If you’re playing scrabble, and the authority you’re using is a Merriam-Webster Second New International Dictionary published between 1934 and 1939, go ahead and use the word ‘dord.’
That five-year window is the only time you’ll find the word because it was – unusual for a dictionary – a complete non-word. It happened when the chemistry editor sent a note asking for the addition of ’D or d, cont./density’ – meaning the letter d, upper or lower case, was a contraction for the word ‘density.’
But entries were usually typed with spaces between letters to make the spelling very clear, which only confused the issue.
No one noticed dord until February 28, 1939, when an editor discovered the error and it was stop the presses time – by 1940, dord was gone. Like an upside-down postage stamp, I would guess one of those old dictionaries is worth a bit.
* * *
Paul Krugman and John Turturro are having birthdays today, as is Canadian-American architect Frank Gehry – he is 82 today. Here in Southern California, we get to see a lot of his work, since among his first efforts were his own house in Venice and the Santa Monica shopping mall. Below, a local retail plaza (1984) known as Edgemar, and above right, the recently completed tower with a titanium and glass exterior at Beekman Place. To see some Gehry furniture, go here.