Created By: lilliterra on October 6, 2012 Last Edited By: Arivne on July 11, 2014

Has Read The Dictionary

A person has read the dictionary cover-to-cover.

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How do you prove that you are learned, genius, or simply incredibly obsessive? By making the claim that you have read the dictionary (or encyclopedia) cover-to-cover, of course. Depending on your age, this may be all you need to convince people that you are a child prodigy. The idea is that anyone who would take the time and energy to read something as dry as the dictionary must care a great deal about knowledge and learning. Or be slightly insane. Or both. For bonus points, memorize it. See also: Bookworm


Examples:

Film - Animated
  • In A Boy Named Charlie Brown, Charlie Brown is intensely studying for a spelling bee. He soliloquizes that he is trying to memorize the dictionary.

Film - Live-Action
  • In The Fifth Element, Leeloo does this with an electronic version of the encyclopedia. She has a breakdown when she gets to War in the 'W's, which is funny because she'd have had to pass a lot of battles in the 'B's and conflicts in the 'C's.
  • Say Anything...: One of Diane Court's prize possessions is a dictionary her father gave her when she was in grade school. She tells her boyfriend Lloyd that she used to highlight every word she looked up in it. Lloyd opens it to a random page and finds about every third word highlighted.

Jokes
  • My mother only owned two books, the Bible and the dictionary. She said the dictionary didn't have much of a story, but at least the author explained it as he went along.

Literature
  • Tiffany Aching from Discworld has read the dictionary cover-to-cover. Not because she's particularly dedicated to educating herself, but because nobody on the farm where she grew up had ever told her you weren't supposed to.
  • Robert A. Heinlein's Stranger in a Strange Land. Valentine Michael Smith read Webster's New International Dictionary of the English Language (Third Edition) as part of his attempt to learn about Earth culture (he was born on Mars and raised by Martians). He also read the Encyclopedia Britannica.
  • In Wayside School, one of the classes in Mrs. Zarve's class is to memorize the dictionary.
  • In The Mysterious Benedict Society, George "Sticky" Washington read every book he could find, including the Dictionary and the Encyclopedia. Also, in The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee, Olive practiced by reading the dictionary while she was using the bathroom.
  • "Memorizin' Mo" by Shel Silverstein:
Mo memorized the dictionary
But just can't seem to find a job
Or anyone who wants to marry
Someone who memorized the dictionary

Live-Action Television
  • In an episode of Smallville there was a baby born who aged very fast. He learned even faster than he aged. He told Lana that he had been reading the Encyclopedia and he had reached the section on windmills.

Newspaper Comics
  • Mentioned in a Mafalda strip: she sees her father go to the bookshelf, pick up the dictionary, look up a word, and put it back on the shelf. As he leaves, she calls out "At that rate, you'll never finish it!"

Web Comics
  • Autumn in Precocious, because both her parents are librarians. In one arc she tries to read the Encyclopedia too.

Western Animation
  • This doesn't involve reading the definitions of the words, but in one set of Animaniacs segments, Yakko sings "All the Words in the English Language" by singing words in relatively alphabetical order out of a giant dictionary and getting more and more tired as the song goes on. However, we only see him singing parts of the A, F, L and Z sections on screen, but it's implied that he's sung all the words in the dictionary during that sequence.
  • WordGirl is likely this, an edutainment superhero who is one-part Flying Brick and another part "living dictionary" (so says the theme song). She has never failed to define a word in a single episode, although they never reach past 7th-grade vocabulary.

Real Life
  • A. J. Jacobs read the entire Encyclopedia Britannica and wrote a book about it called "The Know-It-All: One Man's Humble Quest to Become the Smartest Man in the World."
  • Also, some contestants in the Scripps National Spelling Bee have been known to do this.
  • Eminem has apparently done this.
Community Feedback Replies: 44
  • October 6, 2012
    lilliterra
    I know there are examples for this. When I searched the Wiki for it, some things came up (not tropes, but examples).

    There is the real life example of certain Scripps Spelling Bee competitors doing this, though I can't remember exactly who.
  • October 6, 2012
    SharleeD
    • Tiffany Aching from Discworld has read the dictionary cover-to-cover. Not because she's particularly dedicated to educating herself, but because nobody on the farm where she grew up had ever told her you weren't supposed to.
  • October 7, 2012
    Arivne
    This should probably also include encyclopedias.

    Literature
    • Robert Heinlein's Stranger In A Strange Land. Valentine Michael Smith read Webster's New International Dictionary of the English Language (Third Edition) as part of his attempt to learn about Earth culture (he was born on Mars and raised by Martians). He also read the Encyclopedia Britannica.
  • October 7, 2012
    polarbear2217
    Literature

    In Wayside School, one of the classes in Mrs. Zarve class is to memorize the dictionary.

    Real Life

    A. J. Jacobs read the entire Encyclopedia Britannica and wrote a book about it called "The Know-It-All: One Man's Humble Quest to Become the Smartest Man in the World."
  • October 7, 2012
    zarpaulus
    Web Comics
    • Autumn in Precocious, because both her parents are librarians. In one arc she tries to read the Encyclopedia too.
  • October 7, 2012
    lexicon
    • In an episode of Smallville there was a baby born who aged very fast. He learned even faster than he aged. He told Lana that he had been reading the Encyclopedia and he had reached the section on windmills.
  • October 7, 2012
    LeeM
    Joke: My mother only owned two books, the Bible and the dictionary. She said the dictionary didn't have much of a story, but at least the author explained it as he went along.
  • October 8, 2012
    norsicnumber2nd
  • October 8, 2012
    cjapplesauce
    In The Mysterious Benedict Society, George "Sticky" Washington read every book he could find, including the Dictionary and the Encyclopedia. Also, in The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee, Olive practiced by reading the dictionary while she was using the bathroom.
  • October 8, 2012
    Rainbow
    This doesn't involve reading the definitions of the words, but in one set of Animaniacs segments, Yakko sings "All the Words in the English Language" by singing words in relatively alphabetical order out of a giant dictionary and getting more and more tired as the song goes on. However, we only see him singing parts of the A, F, L and Z sections on screen, but it's implied that he's sung all the words in the dictionary during that sequence.
  • October 8, 2012
    Quatic
    In The Fifth Element, Leeloo does this with an electronic version of the encyclopedia. She has a breakdown when she gets to War in the 'W's, which is funny because she'd have had to pass a lot of battles in the 'B's and conflicts in the 'C's.
  • October 9, 2012
    Chabal2
    Mentioned in a Mafalda strip: she sees her father go to the bookshelf, pick up the dictionary, look up a word, and put it back on the shelf. As he leaves, she calls out "At that rate, you'll never finish it!"
  • October 9, 2012
    FalconPain
    "Memorizin' Mo" by Shel Silverstein:
    Mo memorized the dictionary
    But just can't seem to find a job
    Or anyone who wants to marry
    Someone who memorized the dictionary
  • October 16, 2012
    Folamh3
    • Eminem has apparently done this.
  • October 16, 2012
    JoeG
    Say Anything: One of Diane Court's prize possessions is a dictionary her father gave her when she was in grade school. She tells her boyfriend Lloyd that she used to highlight every word she looked up in it. Lloyd opens it to a random page and finds about every third word highlighted.
  • October 16, 2012
    SquirrelGuy
    Western Animation: In A Boy Named Charlie Brown, CB is intensely studying for a spelling bee. He soliloquizes that he is trying to memorize the dictionary.
  • October 16, 2012
    SquirrelGuy
    MAD Magazine once had a "hate book" feature for the Xmas season. One item on the list was "Don't you hate being given a ton of homework to do over the Christmas holidays?" The accompanying illustration had a teacher writing the reading assignment on the blackboard:
    Hamlet
    Don Quixote
    Encyclopaedia Britannica
    Oh yeah, the writing assignment was a 500-word essay on "How I enjoyed Christmas". This teacher sure took it up to eleven.
  • October 16, 2012
    hevendor717
    Western Animation:

    Word Girl is likely this, an edutainment superhero who is one-part Flying Brick and another part "living dictionary" (so says the theme song). She has never failed to define a word in a single episode, although they never reach past 7th-grade vocabulary.
  • October 17, 2012
    rolranx
    as a follow up bullet to precocious it seems Ursula likely has done the same. Sometimes when she is feeling naughty she will even look up the the bad words.
  • November 11, 2012
    lilliterra
    I don't know whether MAD Magazine is Literature, or what to add it under.
  • November 12, 2012
    PaulA
    The example for The Twenty Fifth Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee should go under "Theatre".
  • December 26, 2012
    randomsurfer
    ^^Either Magazines or Comic Books.
  • December 26, 2012
    justanotherrandomlurker
    Live Action TV
    • {{M*A*S*H}}: Hawkeye says his favorite book is the dictionary, his feeling is that it has all the other books in it, so he likes to read the dictionary.
  • December 27, 2012
    randomsurfer
    A joke by standup comedian Steven Wright, as performed on The Simpsons:
    Steven Wright: I finally got around to reading the dictionary. Turns out the zebra did it.
    [the entire audience, except Homer, laughs]
    Homer: I don't get it.
    Lisa: Dad, the zebra didn't do it, it's just a word at the end of the dictionary.
    Homer: I still don't get it.
    Lisa: It's just a joke.
    Homer: Oh, I get it! I get jokes!
  • December 27, 2012
    Arivne
    ^^^^^ Mad Magazine is in the Magazine Namespace. It can also be put under the more general Literature.
  • December 27, 2012
    TheHandle
    Malcolm X went the extra step and learned the dictionary by heart while he was in prison.
  • January 21, 2014
    zarpaulus
  • January 21, 2014
    Bisected8
    • Inverted in Top Cat, where one of the gang claims to have got sucked in by a "really crazy book" (which started with an aardvark and ended with a zebra playing a xylophone) which it becomes increasingly apparent was just a dictionary.
  • January 22, 2014
    MetaFour
    A variation:

    • In The Muppets, Gary forgets that it's his and Mary's anniversary. Mary, waiting for him to show up to his planned date, gets so bored that she starts reading a thesaurus. When Gary finally does show up, she snipes at him by using every synonym for "alone" in her conversation.
  • January 22, 2014
    robinjohnson
    • In an episode of Friends, Joey is visited by an encyclopedia salesman, but can only afford to buy one volume - he chooses V. He then spends much of the episode trying to steer conversations towards subjects beginning with V in order to show off his knowledge.
    • In the Sherlock Holmes story "The Red-Headed League", a character is given a paid job copying out the first volume of an encyclopedia by hand. This is a diversion so that the villains can rob the bank vault under his office. Holmes tells him that at least he has profited by "the minute knowledge which you have gained on every subject which comes under the letter A."
  • January 22, 2014
    DAN004
  • June 18, 2014
    zarpaulus
    Is this abandoned?

    Webcomics
  • June 19, 2014
    oneuglybunny
    Magazines
    • An anecdotal article in Playboy recounts the author taking a taxi from Kennedy Airport to midtown. The driver challenged him to a spelling contest as a pastime: if the driver misspelled the author's word, the author rode free; otherwise, it's double the meter. The author noted a well-worn dictionary on the dashboard, but agreed anyway, and threw down the gauntlet: "synecdoche." The driver's accent disappeared, and he fired off "S-Y-N-E-C-D-O-C-H-E." The accent resumed with "I ain't hoid dat woid in years. Issa doozy." Double fare, lesson learned.
  • June 19, 2014
    TheHandle
    Malcolm X memorized the dictionary.
  • June 19, 2014
    robinjohnson
    • Another Discworld example: Brutha in Small Gods reads an entire library. Well, not really "reads", because he's illiterate; he just memorises what all the pages look like. From then on, he keeps getting sudden, distressing flashes of encyclopaedic knowledge.
  • June 19, 2014
    NemuruMaeNi
    How To Write An Example is not properly observed.
  • June 19, 2014
    WaterBlap
    I hope nobody minds, but I just thought the description could use a thesaurus (this being about...).

    I added Child Prodigy and Teen Genius and Dan's suggestions for comparisons. Also, I added quotation marks around "the" before dictionary because there isn't just one dictionary (same with encyclopedias).

    Please note that this is just a suggestion.


    How do you prove that you are well-read, literate, learned, or simply incredibly obsessive? By making the claim that you have read "the" dictionary (or an encyclopedia) cover-to-cover, of course! Depending on your age, this may be all you need to convince people that you are a Child Prodigy or Teen Genius.

    The idea behind this trope is that anyone who would take the time and energy to read something as humdrum as a dictionary must care a great deal about knowledge and learning... or be slightly insane (or both). For bonus points, this character may memorize the dictionary rather than just reading it.

    Compare Taught By Television and Saw It In A Movie Once. See also Bookworm, Child Prodigy, and Teen Genius.
  • June 19, 2014
    Paradisesnake
    Namespaced and italicized example titles / creator names + moved the A Boy Named Charlie Brown example under Film - Animated.
  • June 19, 2014
    Koveras
  • June 21, 2014
    SharleeD
    Real Life:

    • Terry Pratchett bought a copy of Brewer's Dictionary of Phrase and Fable when he was 12, and read it cover to cover. He still owns this copy.
  • June 21, 2014
    MaxWest
    Number Five does this in at least one of the Short Circuit movies. Justified as he's a robot that reads very fast.
  • July 10, 2014
    SharleeD
    • Andy Detweiler, the hunchbacked suspect from Andy Reamy's short story "The Detweiler Boy", grew up in the deep backwoods and learned about the outside world by reading an entire 1911 encyclopedia.
  • July 10, 2014
    eowynjedi
    Theater:

  • July 10, 2014
    TheShadow
http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/discussion.php?id=lzts135y0qju65juz1s4vsjz