Frindle

by

Andrew Clements

Teachers and parents! Struggling with distance learning? Our Teacher Edition on Frindle can help.

The Dictionary Symbol Analysis

The Dictionary Symbol Icon

At the beginning of Frindle, and especially in the first few weeks following Nick's invention of the word “frindle” (meaning “pen”), Mrs. Granger is careful to characterize the dictionary as a symbol of rules, regulations, and power. Though she admits it is changeable, she makes it clear to her students that the dictionary represents centuries of work to craft a language and the rules that guide its use—language is not something that can change overnight. However, when Nick receives Mrs. Granger's letter ten years later and learns that "frindle" made it into the dictionary, he learns that there's actually more to Mrs. Granger's characterization than she let on in fifth grade. She admits that though the dictionary does indeed signify power, history, and rules, it also acts as a symbol for societal, linguistic, and social change as new words are added to describe a constantly changing world.

The Dictionary Quotes in Frindle

The Frindle quotes below all refer to the symbol of The Dictionary. For each quote, you can also see the other characters and themes related to it (each theme is indicated by its own dot and icon, like this one:
Language Theme Icon
). Note: all page numbers and citation info for the quotes below refer to the Simon and Schuster edition of Frindle published in 1996.
Chapter 2 Quotes

But her pride and joy was one of those huge dictionaries with every word in the universe in it, the kind of book it takes two kids to carry. It sat on its own little table at the front of her classroom, sort of like the altar at the front of a church.

Related Characters: Mrs. Granger
Related Symbols: The Dictionary
Page Number: 10
Explanation and Analysis:
Chapter 5 Quotes

"But if all of us in this room decided to call that creature something else, and if everyone else did, too, then that's what it would be called, and one day it would be written in the dictionary that way. We decide what goes in that book." And she pointed at the giant dictionary.

Related Characters: Mrs. Granger (speaker), Nick Allen
Related Symbols: The Dictionary
Page Number: 31
Explanation and Analysis:
Chapter 12 Quotes

"I have always said that the dictionary is the finest tool ever made for educating young minds, and I still say that. Children need to understand that there are rules about words and language, and that those rules have a history that makes sense. And to pretend that a perfectly good English word can be replaced by a silly made-up word just for the fun of it, well, it's not something I was ready to stand by and watch without a fight."

Related Characters: Mrs. Granger (speaker), Nick Allen, Alice Lunderson
Related Symbols: The Dictionary
Page Number: 74
Explanation and Analysis:
Chapter Quotes

So many things have gone out of date. But after all these years, words are still important. Words are still needed by everyone. Words are used to think with, to write with, to dream with, to hope and pray with. And that is why I love the dictionary. It endures. It works. And as you now know, it also changes and grows.

Related Characters: Mrs. Granger (speaker), Nick Allen
Related Symbols: The Dictionary
Page Number: 100
Explanation and Analysis:
Get the entire Frindle LitChart as a printable PDF.
Frindle PDF

The Dictionary Symbol Timeline in Frindle

The timeline below shows where the symbol The Dictionary appears in Frindle. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Chapter 2: Mrs. Granger
Language Theme Icon
Leadership and Teamwork Theme Icon
...makes Mrs. Granger terrifying, she's known best for her homework and her love of the dictionary. She's known for assigning weekly vocabulary lists that include 35 words, as well as a... (full context)
Language Theme Icon
Leadership and Teamwork Theme Icon
...It reads that every student is expected to have access to one of her preferred dictionaries at home, so that they can expand their vocabularies and properly complete their homework. Nick's... (full context)
Chapter 3: The Question
Language Theme Icon
Power, Hierarchy, and Rules Theme Icon
Leadership and Teamwork Theme Icon
Nick raises his hand and asks Mrs. Granger where all the words in the dictionaries come from. His classmates smile; they know what he's doing. Mrs. Granger seems to know... (full context)
Chapter 4: Word Detective
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Nick begins by looking up the vocabulary words in the dictionary, which takes him an hour. He can hear a baseball game outside, but he knows... (full context)
Language Theme Icon
Power, Hierarchy, and Rules Theme Icon
...heads downstairs to the family room, finds the set of children's encyclopedias, and looks up "dictionary." He reads the entry in the adult encyclopedia as well, though he only understands about... (full context)
Chapter 5: The Report
Language Theme Icon
Power, Hierarchy, and Rules Theme Icon
...immediately and takes a seat on a stool, while Nick stands next to the giant dictionary. Nick begins his presentation, but Mrs. Granger interrupts him to ask for a title. He... (full context)
Power, Hierarchy, and Rules Theme Icon
Nick talks about Samuel Johnson, who created the first modern English dictionary in the 1700s. Kids are in awe when Nick says that his dictionary had more... (full context)
Language Theme Icon
Power, Hierarchy, and Rules Theme Icon
Leadership and Teamwork Theme Icon
Nick pulls his homework dictionary out of his bag and explains that there's a lot of information in the front... (full context)
Language Theme Icon
Power, Hierarchy, and Rules Theme Icon
Leadership and Teamwork Theme Icon
...a different word for something, that new word would one day end up in the dictionary. (full context)
Language Theme Icon
Leadership and Teamwork Theme Icon
With a smile, Mrs. Granger says that despite the fact that language can change, the dictionary is the law and words only get in for good reasons. She looks at the... (full context)
Chapter 9: Chess
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...Mrs. Chatham's reasoning, but Nick speaks up and notes that even "ain't" is in the dictionary; if a word is in the dictionary, he says, he should be able to use... (full context)
Chapter 12: Airwaves
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On Wednesday afternoon, Alice interviews Mrs. Granger. Mrs. Granger insists that the dictionary is a fine tool for educating youngsters and says that kids need to learn that... (full context)
Chapter 15: And the Winner Is...
Language Theme Icon
Power, Hierarchy, and Rules Theme Icon
...is an edition of Webster's College Dictionary, a handwritten note on the front of the dictionary, and the envelope that she asked him to sign and date in September of his... (full context)
Language Theme Icon
Power, Hierarchy, and Rules Theme Icon
...congratulating him, as if he's reading the letter, it means that "frindle" is in the dictionary. She admits that she was angry at first but realizes now that Nick would've made... (full context)