How do you spell …?

When you head to West Springfield, Massachusetts, for Equine Affaire this year consider the other famous name the city is known for—the Merriam-Webster dictionary. Read on to learn more about this iconic American institution and the link to Equine Affaire.

Whether you’re wondering how to spell “Przewalski’s horse” or what “remuda” means, Merriam-Webster has you covered. What does this have to do with Equine Affaire, you ask? Well, the headquarters of this venerable company are located just across the river, in Springfield, Massachusetts. Pretty neat, huh?

Merriam Webster’s long history

You could almost say that Merriam-Webster grew up with—and helped educate—our fair nation. The company’s best-known product traces its history to the 1806 publication of Noah Webster’s first dictionary, A Compendious Dictionary of the English Language, and the release of Webster’s more comprehensive work, An American Dictionary of the English Language, in 1828.

Equine Affaire 2022 is held in Springfield, Massachusetts, which is also home to the headquarters of the Merriam-Webster dictionary. Title page of Noah Webster’s 1828 edition of the American Dictionary of the English Language. (Credit: Wikimedia Commons/Jim Heaphy)

Webster’s goal was to help standardize American English, which at the time was a hodgepodge of vocabulary, spellings, pronunciations and meanings that varied from region to region. So dedicated was Webster to his mission that he is said to have learned 26 new languages just to trace the etymology [origins] of words.

After Webster’s death in 1843, brothers George and Charles Merriam, printers, booksellers and publishers who had founded Springfield-based G & C Merriam Co. in 1831, bought the rights to Webster’s last edition of his famous dictionary. And voila! (Oops, pardon the French …) An American classic was born.

While Merriam-Webster—now an Encyclopedia Britannica company—publishes many reference works, it is still the company’s dictionaries to which most Americans turn, generation after generation.

In keeping with the times, the company started moving to electronic formats in the 1980s and launched Dictionary by Merriam-Webster: America’s most-trusted online dictionary in 1996. Today, this web resource provides free access to the Merriam-Webster online dictionary and thesaurus. You’ll also find a “word of the day,” word-related games and quizzes, language trivia and advice about usage and grammar.

While you’re at Equine Affaire

Be sure to check out this fascinating website between presentations at Equine Affaire. You may amaze your equestrian friends with your newfound linguistic learning!

By the way, here’s the lowdown on the word “remuda,”—straight from the Merriam-Webster online dictionary:

remuda noun (re·​mu·​da | \ ri-ˈmü-də  , -ˈmyü- \)

Definition of remuda

the herd of horses from which those to be used for the day are chosen.

First Known Use of remuda

circa 1892, in the meaning defined above

History and Etymology for remuda

American Spanish, relay of horses, from Spanish, exchange, from remudar to exchange, from re- + mudar to change, from Latin mutare — more at MUTABLE.

As for “Przewalski’s horse”—go ahead; look it up!

Equine Affaire,® is the Nation’s Premier Equine Exposition and Equestrian Gathering. It will be held at the Eastern States Exposition Center in West Springfield, Massachusetts November 10 – 13. For information on attending, click here.




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