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Come quick, the dictionaries are fighting

Dictionary.com describes fighting as “to engage in battle or in single combat; attempt to defend oneself against or to subdue, defeat, or destroy an adversary.” Merriam-Webster describes Dictionary.com as a punk-ass buster. The two dictionaries, the biggest on the internet, have been engaging in a war of Twitter words today that started when Merriam-Webster called Dictionary.com out over a picture of coffee.

The image originally appeared alongside a quote from Abigail Reynolds’ From Pemberly by the Sea — “I like my coffee with cream and my literature with optimism” — on Dictionary.com’s Twitter feed. “There’s no cream in that coffee,” Merriam-Webster shot back.

It might have 30,000 fewer followers, but Merriam-Webster got the last laugh, planting a neatly timed slap and then sauntering off, leaving Dictionary.com to follow up with awkward hashtags and shoehorned memes. It was a cute interlude in two otherwise utilitarian feeds, but in the world of book-related Twitter spats, both Dictionary.com and Merriam-Webster are amateurs compared to two libraries off the north coast of Scotland.

The libraries, one in the Shetland Isles, and one in the Orkney Islands, have been engaged in a war of words that has run for months. Existing hostilities were stoked by the visitation of Harry Potter author J.K. Rowling to Orkney’s facility in March, and reignited over the past week when the more southerly library was awarded Twitter’s coveted blue tick of verification.

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