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Md. Fifth-Grader Finds Mistake In Dictionary

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Mary Bubala 370x278 Mary Bubala
Mary Bubala joined WJZ in December 2003. She now anchors the 4-4:30...
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ANNAPOLIS, Md. (WJZ) — For most of us, the dictionary is the ultimate source for spelling and definition of words. 

But as Mary Bubala reports, an area fifth-grader challenged what he saw in the Merriam-Webster’s Children’s Dictionary, and guess what, he was right!

Max Applegate, 11, opened a dictionary at his school library at West Annapolis Elementary to the definition for weakfish. Applegate saw it was wrong.  The weakfish is not a member of the perch family. It’s from the drum family.

“I looked at this one fish — the weakfish — and it had the wrong picture and the wrong definition,” said Applegate.

It’s first-hand knowledge. Applegate’s home is right on the water in Annapolis. The fifth-grader is an amateur fisherman and an aspiring marine biologist, and he knows his fish.

“Every morning in the summer I go down to the dock and I fish up there for an hour or two, and I catch white perch down there, some striped bass. I look up fish on Google and all that,” said Applegate.

With the help of the school librarian, Applegate emailed the publisher of the Merriam-Webster’s Children’s Dictionary, and thanks to him, the next edition will have the correct definition. 

“It can make a difference if you point out that something is wrong, bring it up, speak up, I don’t think this is right and don’t just let it pass by. Otherwise there could be generations of kids who have the wrong definition of weakfish and we just can’t have that,” said James Applegate, Max’s dad.

Along with making the correction, the publisher of the dictionary also set Max Applegate a book on his favorite subject: fish.

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