I always keep my dictionary open on my desktop. My Mac’s built-in dictionary is Oxford American (my favorite dictionary of which I own two copies in hardcover — one for home, one for office) and it also has a built-in thesaurus and wikipedia.
When I was at a cocktail party last week, W’s girlfriend said proudly, out of the blue, that she never uses a dictionary. W was proud, too, boasting about how smart she is, as evidenced by the fact she does not use a dictionary. To me, that was an appalling Palin-esque level of ignorance. How could you not use a dictionary? I check my constantly to be certain that any word I am using has no subtle connotations that might not express precisely what I wish. Precision is key.
That this woman is proud to never use a dictionary made her look so ignorant that, days later, I am still shocked. It’s the sort of thing I know BFD and I will laugh about, and something, sadly, W and others would not understand.
It’s easy to pick up meaning from context so comprehesion is possible, but there is nuance lost if you are not fully aware of why that word was chosen over another, apparently servicable one.
Saying you never use a dictionary is like saying you are “classy.” It just makes you look ignorant and conveys the opposite of what you want.