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
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.
"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.
"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."
So many things have gone out of date.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.