"Whoever lusts after coherence lusts after lies." - Howard Jacobson, Jan. 16, 2015

This is a companion discussion topic for the original entry at

I’m sorry for exhuming a 6-years old (though still very actual) article, but as a newbie here I’m sipping and savouring Etymonline little by little to avoid a possibly lethal overdose - etymology is a heavily addictive giant squid with tentacles reaching virtually everywhere.

I think that all boils down to the golden rule: “100% doesn’t exist”.
Writing a complete, fully exhaustive dictionary of any language would be like picking up with a tweezers every single grain after spilling a pound of sugar on a sandy beach, just 1000 times more challenging (10,000 times in the case of English). And when you think you’re nearly done the wind rises and you’re back to square 1.
There are two options I can think of: to shoot oneself in the head or to settle for a little fulfilling but feasible ‘good enough’.
I would opt for the latter :grinning:

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There’s a good book and movie on this very topic: Professor and the Madman, about the formation of the Oxford English Dictionary. I think the solution was provided back then too: it simply HAS to be crowd-sourced, but at the same time, it probably HAS to have a lead contributor such as Mr Harper at Etymonline (His own Professor AND his own Madman!).

We might be able to have the best of both worlds, if we harness technology correctly and find like-minded wordy souls. What do you think would be your solution to your own posed question?