My first memory of the school library is of Lisa Bennett (age 6) gigglingly showing me the word "shit" in the big dick on the revolving stand. From then on and to this day I can't help administering that litmus test to all the dicks I encounter. Sometimes I come up with "shit" and sometimes I just get the "shittah tree." With the passing years, I moved up to the big "F" as an alternative test. If "fuck" isn't in a dick it ain't worth "shit."
As a librarian I have since been initiated into the secrets and arcane mysteries of dicks and will herein share a handful with you, o ignorant patron.
Early printings of Webster's New International Dictionary (2nd edition - the big dick crossword puzzle enthusiasts crave) contain the ghost word "dord," a non-existent term meaning "density" erroneously included by a rabid clerk. A guy by the name of Philip Gove raised the incredibly anal retentive science of lexicography to new anal retentive heights by writing an entire article on "The History of Dord" (American Speech v. 29, 1954, pp. 136-138).
The publishers of the American Heritage Dictionary win the spoil-sport dick maker award for producing two versions of their desk dicks; the one without "fuck" is their "special school edition." Coincidentally, nationally syndicated columnist of "The Straight Dope," Cecil Adams points out that this very same dick is one of his favorites because under the word "decolletage" is a picture of Marilyn Monroe in a cleavage-exposing gown. Tits yes, "fuck" no!
Dicks can and do exist on almost any subject. In searching computerized library catalogs, a good technique for finding weird dicks is to do a boolean "and" search with a title keyword of choice (e.g., "marijuana") and the Library of Congress heading "dictionaries." On my home system in Missouri I found Ernest Abel's A Marihuana Dictionary (Westport, Conn. : Greenwood Press, 1982. ISBN 0313232520) by entering FIND TITLE MARIHUANA AND SUBJECT DICTIONARIES. I now know five variant spellings of "doobie, dubbe, dubee" and "duby." Did anyone know that a "zooie" is a "cylindrical device for holding the butt of a marihuana cigarette" or that a "Balloon room without a parachute" means "a marihuana pad where all the marihuana is gone?"
Want to know how to say "I wonder what's causing him to vomit?" in Cherokee? Try "Gadosgin usdi nuwane jiduksdiha?" (William Pulte, ed., Cherokee-English Dictionary, (Talequah : Cherokee Nation of Oklahoma, 1975. No ISBN).
If you're a non-native English speaker, see Elizabeth Claire's A Foreign Student's Guide to Dangerous English (Rochelle Park, NJ : Eardley Publications, c1983. ISBN 0937630004). This is probably the only dick that will define "ass man" for foreigners:
ass man (as' man') noun. vulgar. A man who prefers women with large firm buttocks.
Forget all the different ways to say "penis" in Yiddish? Try Fred Kogos' A Dictionary of Yiddish Slang and Idioms (Secaucus, NJ : Citadel Press, c1966. OCLC 299229). Penis = Potz, shmok, shlang, shvontz.
Don't forget the old standbys, either. I once searched the Oxford English Dictionary on CD-ROM in reverse. What this means is that you can look for definitions of words without knowing what the word is. By searching for the keyword "feces" or "faeces" I was able to turn up a number of interesting entries. My favorite, "stercoraceous," means "full of shit." In OED jargon:
Stercoraceous a. (f L.stercorare)1. Consisting of, containing, or pertaining to faeces.
Like I said, full of shit. E.g., "That was quite a stercoraceous comment, Senator."
I own all the rights to this because I originally wrote it in 1992 and I didn't sign any of my rights away. I say it's "ok" for this to reside on E2! This is also a version where I fixed up some mistakes and references, so there!
Originally from Fugitive Pope v. 2, no. 6 (Jan 1, 1992). Republished with permission in Alternative Library Literature (1992-1993) (Phoenix, AZ : Oryx Press. ISSN 0749-6885), p. 342