• J McGlynn and M Bacina

Dictionary Publisher Merriam Websets auctions NFT of the definition "NFT"




Recently, dictionary specialist, Merriam-Webster announced its plans to go super meta and auction an Non-Fungible Token (NFT) of... the Merriam-Webster dictionary defintion of "NFT."


Using NFT marketplace OpenSea as their sales platform , which claims to be "the word's first & largest NFT marketplace", the publishing company opened the auction from 9:30 a.m. EST on Tuesday, May 11. To date there has not been a resounding flood of bids, but that may also have to do with the choice of animation that the NFT comprises.


The definition reads like this:

NFT
abbreviation or noun
: NON-FUNGIBLE TOKEN : a unique digital identifier that cannot be copied, substituted, or subdivided, that is recorded in a blockchain, and that is used to certify authenticity and ownership (as of a specific digital asset and specific rights relating to it.

The proceeds of the sale will be donated to children's charity Teach for All , a consortium of 60 organisations who have made if their mission "to deliver children with the education, support and opportunity they need to fulfill their potential."


Peter Sokolowski, Merriam-Webster's Editor, promoted this listing as light-hearted fun for a good cause, commenting:

By auctioning the NFT of our definition of 'NFT,' we're offering people a fun way to own a little bit of Merriam-Webster's thought and meaning.

Nate Chastain, Head of Product at OpenSea, said:

This project is about establishing NFTs as a medium with lasting value through the permanence of a record in the country's most-trusted dictionary... [w]e're excited that a brand like Merriam-Webster is using NFTs to engage with its audience in new ways.

If you compare Merriam's quirky "NFT" to Oxford University Press and its decision to elect an emoji of the year in 2015 (the much-anticipated winner was the tears of joy emoji for all of those wondering), this fun concept isn't a far cry from the ways other publishing companies have chosen to celebrate language and its evolution.


The bidding so far might be an indication that the demand for NFTs is highly personalised and that some serious artistic effort is required to drive perceived value, or that greater marketing to the dictionary loving crowd is needed.