Ilan Stavans in The New Republic:
The word “camouflage” is nowhere to be found in the canonical 1971 edition of the Oxford English Dictionary. Is this yet another proof that lexicographers leave out, or otherwise disguise, clues in their dictionaries for users to notice?
Browsing a dictionary requires breath, curiosity, and patience. Every time I open one, I’m filled with expectation: What will I discover about the words I use on a daily bases that I didn’t know before? What kind of mysteries did the compiler set out for me to uncover? Dictionary makers approach their discipline–the deciphering, and characterization, of the entire vocabulary bank constituting a language–in a cold-blooded, objective fashion, assuring readers no prejudice goes unpunished. What folly! Dictionaries, after all, are catalogs of social misconceptions. Look up the word “Jew” in Sebastián de Covarrubias’s Tesoro de la lengua castellana, the first full-fledge lexicon of the Spanish language, published in 1611, and you’ll find a description of a people who “continue to profess the Mosaic Law, which is a shadow of the truth.” Or open the Trésor de la langue française to “amour” and you’ll find as oblique reference: “love is sometimes more than just love, but also sometimes less.”