Press Esc to close
Saturday 18 April 2015
News updated at 12:43 PM IST
Weather
Max: 33.4°C
Min : 21.6°C
In Bengaluru
Sunny day

Dictionary mistake goes unnoticed for 99 years

Last updated: 12 May, 2010
Melbourne, May 12 (IANS):

Those who swear by the dictionary for uses of words may need to cross check as the meaning explained in the bible of lexicon may not be error free.

The error may be slight, but it's an error nonetheless, said Stephen Hughes, a physicist with Queensland University of Technology, who spotted a 99-year-old mistake in the Oxford English Dictionary.

Hughes claims he has discovered that the dictionary's definition of the word "siphon" has been incorrect since 1911.

The definition in the Oxford dictionary and many other dictionaries stated that atmospheric pressure was the force behind a siphon. But in fact it is the force of gravity at work.

"It is gravity that moved the fluid in a siphon, with the water in the longer downward arm pulling the water up the shorter arm," Hughes was quoted as saying by The Sydney Morning Herald.

Hughes alerted the dictionary's revision team, which had just completed revising words beginning with the letter "R".

"I thought, 'Oh good, just in time,' because S is next," he said.
The physicist discovered the error after viewing an enormous siphon in South Australia, transferring the equivalent of 4000 Olympic swimming pools from the Murray River system into the depleted Lake Bonney.

"I thought this example would make a great education paper ... but in my background research I discovered there was much contention about the definition of the word 'siphon'," Hughes said.

"I found that almost every dictionary contained the same misconception that atmospheric pressure, not gravity, pushed liquid through the tube of a siphon".
The dictionary's review team has agreed to re-examine the definition.
Hughes is now determined to set the record straight, and says the issue should not be taken lightly.

"We would all have an issue if the dictionary defined a koala as a species of bear, or a rose as a tulip," said Hughes, who has now turned his attention towards dictionaries in other languages.

"I would like to know if the siphon misconception exists in dictionaries in other languages, and also if there are incorrect definitions of siphon in school text books," he added.


Go to Top

Photo Gallery
Taragarh Fort overlooking the city on the eve of World Heritage Day...

Taragarh Fort overlooking the city on the eve of World Heritage Day...

Narmada Bachao Andolan activists during their 'Jal Satyagrah' in Khandwa...

Narmada Bachao Andolan activists during their 'Jal Satyagrah' in Khandwa...

Teena Ponnappa poses at the “Crafts Glory” an exhibition cum sale of Handicrafts and Handlooms...

Teena Ponnappa poses at the “Crafts Glory” an exhibition cum sale of Handicrafts and Handlooms...

Aishwarya Rai and Malayalam actress Manju Warrier at the inauguration of a jewellery shop in Chennai

Aishwarya Rai and Malayalam actress Manju Warrier at the inauguration of a jewellery shop in Chennai

Sachin Tendulkar during the IPL T20 match between Mumbai Indians and Chennai Super Kings in Mumbai..

Sachin Tendulkar during the IPL T20 match between Mumbai Indians and Chennai Super Kings in Mumbai..

Sahara Force India Mexican driver Sergio Perez steers his car during a practice session...

Sahara Force India Mexican driver Sergio Perez steers his car during a practice session...

A heap of wheat getting damaged with rain water in Hisar on Friday...

A heap of wheat getting damaged with rain water in Hisar on Friday...

Tigers at the Ranthambore National Park in Sawai Madhopur, India...

Tigers at the Ranthambore National Park in Sawai Madhopur, India...

Civic workers sweep at a lawn near India Gate in New Delhi on Friday...

Civic workers sweep at a lawn near India Gate in New Delhi on Friday...

Policemen fire teargas shells towards protesters during an agitation against the arrest...

Policemen fire teargas shells towards protesters during an agitation against the arrest...

Copyright 2014, The Printers (Mysore) Private Ltd., 75, M.G Road, Post Box 5331, Bengaluru - 560001
Tel: +91 (80) 25880000 Fax No. +91 (80) 25880523