A person who is just as (if not more) beautiful as their name suggests. A person who, through individualization, has become like a jewel to the pub
The name Webster's Dictionary may refer to any of the line of dictionaries first developed by Noah Webster in the early 19th century, and also to numerous unrelated dictionaries that added Webster's name just to share his prestige. The term is a genericized trademark in the U.S. for comprehensive dictionaries of the English language.
Noah Webster (1758–1843), the author of the readers and spelling books that dominated the American market at the time, spent decades of research in compiling his dictionaries. His first dictionary, A Compendious Dictionary of the English Language, appeared in 1806. In it, he introduced features that would be a hallmark of future editions such as American spellings (center rather than centre, honor rather than honour, program rather than programme, etc.) and included technical terms from the arts and sciences rather than confining his dictionary to literary words. He spent the next two decades working to expand his dictionary.
In 1828, at the age of 70, Noah Webster published his American Dictionary of the English Language (ADEL) in two quarto volumes containing 70,000 entries, as against the 58,000 of any previous dictionary. There were 98,000 copies printed, at only $.15 for the two volumes. At first, the book sold in huge proportions, but after raising the dictionary price to $15 the book sold poorly and all copies were not bound up at the same time; the book also appeared in publisher's boards; other original bindings of a later date are not unknown.
In 1841, 82-year-old Noah Webster published a revised and expanded edition of his lexicographical masterpiece in two volumes, a 2nd Edition, Corrected and Enlarged of the American Dictionary of the English Language, with the help of his son, William G. Webster. It was published in octavo size, and contained the whole vocabulary of the quarto (1st edition), with corrections, improvements and five thousand additional words. Published by the author, the first printing was in 1841 by B.L. Hamlen, of New Haven.
When Webster died, his heirs sold unbound sheets of his 1841 Revised American Dictionary of the English Language to the firm of J.S. & C. Adams of Amherst, Massachusetts. This firm bound and published a small number of copies in 1844 – the same edition that Emily Dickinson used as a tool for her poetic composition. However, a $15 price tag on the book made it too expensive to sell easily, so the Amherst firm decided to sell out. Merriam acquired rights from Adams, as well as signing a contract with Webster’s heirs for sole rights.
A third printing of the ADEL second edition was in 1845 by George & Charles Merriam, Springfield, Massachusetts, and this was the first "Webster's Dictionary" with a Merriam imprint.
Lepore (2008) demonstrates Webster's innovative ideas about language and politics and shows why Webster's endeavours were at first so poorly received. Culturally conservative Federalists denounced the work as radical—too inclusive in its lexicon and even bordering on vulgar. Meanwhile Webster's old foes the Jeffersonian Republicans attacked the man, labelling him mad for such an undertaking.
Scholars have long seen Webster's 1844 dictionary to be an important resource for reading poet Emily Dickinson's life and work; she once commented that the "Lexicon" was her "only companion" for years. One biographer said, "The dictionary was no mere reference book to her; she read it as a priest his breviary – over and over, page by page, with utter absorption."
Austin (2005) explores the intersection of lexicographical and poetic practices in American literature, and attempts to map out a "lexical poetics" using Webster's dictionaries. He shows the ways in which American poetry has inherited Webster and drawn upon his lexicography in order to reinvent it. Austin explicates key definitions from both the Compendious (1806) and American (1828) dictionaries and brings into its discourse a range of concerns including the politics of American English, the question of national identity and culture in the early moments of American independence, and the poetics of citation and of definition.
Webster's dictionaries were a redefinition of Americanism within the context of an emergent and unstable American socio-political and cultural identity. Webster's identification of his project as a "federal language" shows his competing impulses towards regularity and innovation in historical terms. Perhaps the contradictions of Webster's project comprised part of a larger dialectical play between liberty and order within Revolutionary and post-Revolutionary political debates.
The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia, was based on Noah Webster’s American Dictionary edition of 1841.
Noah Webster's assistant, and later chief competitor, Joseph Emerson Worcester, and Webster's son-in-law Chauncey A. Goodrich, published an abridgment of Noah Webster's 1828 American Dictionary of the English Language in 1829, with the same number of words and Webster's full definitions, but without the literary references. Although it was more successful financially than the original 1828 edition and was reprinted many times, Noah Webster was critical of it. Worcester and Goodrich's abridgment of Noah Webster's 1841 (1844) edition was printed, this time by Harper and Brothers of New York City, in 1844, with added words as an appendix.
Upon Webster's death in 1843, the unsold books and all rights to the copyright and name "Webster" were purchased by brothers George and Charles Merriam, who then hired Webster's son-in-law Chauncey A. Goodrich, a professor at Yale College, to oversee revisions. Goodrich's New and Revised Edition appeared on 24 September 1847, and a Revised and Enlarged edition in 1859, which added a section of illustrations indexed to the text. His revisions remained close to Webster's work, although removing what later editors referred to as his "vexcrescences".
In 1850, for example, Blackie and Son in Glasgow published the first general dictionary of English that relied heavily upon pictorial illustrations integrated with the text. Its The Imperial Dictionary, English, Technological, and Scientific, Adapted to the Present State of Literature, Science, and Art; On the Basis of Webster's English Dictionary used Webster's for most of their text, adding some additional technical words that went with illustrations of machinery.
In response to Joseph Worcester's groundbreaking dictionary of 1860, the G. & C. Merriam Company created a significantly revised edition, retaining the title American Dictionary of the English Language. It was edited by Yale University editor Noah Porter and published in 1864, containing 114,000 entries. It was sometimes referred to as the Webster–Mahn edition, because it featured revisions by Dr. C. A. F. Mahn, who replaced unsupportable etymologies which were based on Webster's attempt to conform to Biblical interpretations of the history of language. It was the first edition to largely overhaul Noah Webster's work, and the first to be known as the Unabridged. Later printings included additional material: a "Supplement Of Additional Words And Definitions" containing over 4,600 new words and definitions in 1879, A Pronouncing Biographical Dictionary containing over 9,700 names of noteworthy persons in 1879, and a Pronouncing Gazetteer in 1884. The 1883 printing of the book contained 1,928 pages and was 8½ in (22 cm) wide by 11½ in (29 cm) tall by 4¼ in (11 cm) thick. The 1888 printing (revision?) is similarly sized, with the last printed page number "1935" which has on its back further content (hence, 1936th page), and closes with "Whole number of pages 2012". This dictionary carries the 1864 Preface by Noah Porter with postscripts of 1879 and 1884.
Murray (the historian of the later Oxford English Dictionary) says Webster's unabridged edition of 1864 "acquired an international fame. It was held to be superior to every other dictionary and taken as the leading authority on the meaning of words, not only in America and England, but also throughout the Far East."
Porter also edited the succeeding edition, Webster’s International Dictionary of the English Language (1890), which was an expansion of the American Dictionary. It contained about 175,000 entries. In 1900, Webster’s International was republished with a supplement that added 25,000 entries to it.
The Merriam Company issued a complete revision in 1909, Webster's New International Dictionary, edited by William Torrey Harris and F. Sturges Allen. Vastly expanded, it covered over 400,000 entries, and double the number of illustrations. A new format feature, the divided page, was designed to save space by including a section of words below the line at the bottom of each page: six columns of very fine print, devoted to such items as rarely used, obsolete, and foreign words, abbreviations, and variant spellings. Notable improvement was made in the treatment and number of discriminated synonyms, comparisons of subtle shades of meaning. Also added was a twenty-page chart comparing the Webster's pronunciations with those offered by six other major dictionaries.
In 1934, the New International Dictionary was revised and expanded for a second edition, which is popularly known as "Webster’s Second" or W2, although it was not published under that title. It was edited by William Allan Neilson and Thomas A. Knott. It contained 3350 pages and sold for $39.50. Some versions added a 400-page supplement called "A Reference History of the World," which provided chronologies "from earliest times to the present." The editors claimed over 600,000 entries, more than any other dictionary at that time, but that number included many proper names and newly added lists of undefined "combination words". Multiple definitions of words are listed in chronological order, with the oldest, and often obsolete, usages listed first. For example, the first definition of starve includes dying of exposure to the elements as well as from lack of food.
The numerous picture plates added to the book's appeal and usefulness, particularly when pertaining to things found in nature. Conversely, the plate showing the coins of the world's important nations quickly proved to be ephemeral. Numerous gold coins from various important countries were included, including American eagles, at a time when it had recently become illegal for Americans to own them, and when most other countries had withdrawn gold from active circulation as well.
Early printings of this dictionary contained the famous dord.
Because of its style and word coverage, "Webster’s Second" is still a popular dictionary. For example, in the case of Miller Brewing Co. v. G. Heileman Brewing Co., Inc., 561 F.2d 75 (7th Cir. 1977) – a trademark dispute in which the terms "lite" and "light" were held to be generic for light beer and therefore available for use by anyone – the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit, after considering a definition from Webster’s Third New International Dictionary, wrote that "[T]he comparable definition in the previous, and for many the classic, edition of the same dictionary is as follows:..."
After about a decade of preparation, G. & C. Merriam issued the entirely new Webster's Third New International Dictionary of the English Language, Unabridged (commonly known as Webster's Third, or W3) in September 1961. It was edited by Philip Babcock Gove and a team of lexicographers who spent 757 editor-years and $3.5 million. It contained more than 450,000 entries, including over 100,000 new entries and as many new senses for entries carried over from previous editions.
The final definition, Zyzzogeton, was written on 17 October 1960; the final etymology was recorded on 26 October; and the final pronunciation was transcribed on 9 November. The final copy went to the typesetters, R. R. Donnelley, on 2 December. The book was printed by the Riverside Press in Cambridge, Massachusetts. The first edition had 2,726 pages (measuring 9 in (23 cm) wide by 13 in (33 cm) tall by 3 in (7.6 cm) thick), weighed 13½ lbs (6.12 kg), and originally sold for $47.50 (about $350 in 2010 dollars). The changes were the most radical in the history of the Unabridged.
Although it was an unprecedented masterwork of scholarship, it was met with considerable criticism for its descriptive (rather than prescriptive) approach. It told how the language was used, not how it ought to be used.
Prior to Webster's Third the Unabridged had been expanded with each new edition, with minimal deletion. To make room for 100,000 new words, Gove now made sweeping deletions, dropping 250,000 entries. He eliminated the "nonlexical matter" that more properly belongs to an encyclopaedia, including all names of people and places (which had filled two appendices). There were no more mythological, biblical, and fictional names, nor the names of buildings, historical events, or art works. Thirty picture plates were dropped. The rationale was that, while useful, these are not strictly about language. Gove justified the change by the company's publication of Webster's Biographical Dictionary in 1943 and Webster's Geographical Dictionary in 1949, and the fact that the topics removed could be found in encyclopaedias.
Also removed were words which had been virtually out of use for over two hundred years (except those found in major literature such as Shakespeare), rare variants, reformed spellings, self-explanatory combination words, and other items considered of little value to the general reader. The number of small text illustrations was reduced, page size increased, and print size reduced by one-twelfth, from six point to agate (5.5 point) type. All this was considered necessary because of the large amount of new material, and Webster's Second had almost reached the limits of mechanical bookbinding. The fact that the new book had about 700 fewer pages was justified by the need to allow room for future additions.
In style and method, the dictionary bore little resemblance to earlier editions. Headwords (except for "God", acronyms pronounced as a string of letters, and, in the reprints, trademarks) were not capitalized. Instead of capitalizing "American", for example, the dictionary had labels next to the entries reading cap (for the noun) and usu cap (for the adjective). This allowed informative distinctions to be drawn: "gallic" is usu cap while "gallicism" is often cap and "gallicize" is sometimes cap.
The reviews of the Third edition were highly favourable in Britain.
Robert Chapman, a lexicographer, canvassed fellow lexicographers at Funk & Wagnalls, who had used the new edition daily for three years. The consensus held that the Third was a "marvelous achievement, a monument of scholarship and accuracy". They did come up with some specific criticisms, including typographic unattractiveness (the type is too small and hard to read); non-use of capital letters (only "God" was capitalized; the goal was to save space); excessive use of citations, giving misspellings as legitimate variants, dropping too many obsolete words, the lack of usage labels, and deliberate omission of biographical and geographical entries. Chapman concluded that the "cranks and intransigents who advise us to hang on to the NID 2 are plain fools who deny themselves the riches of a great book.".
This dictionary became preferred as a backup source by two influential style guides in the United States, although each one directs writers to go first to other, shorter dictionaries. The Chicago Manual of Style, followed by many book publishers and magazines in the United States, recommends Webster's Third, along with Merriam-Webster's Collegiate Dictionary for "general matters of spelling", and the style book "normally opts for" the first spelling listed (with the Collegiate taking precedence over Webster's Third because it "represents the latest research"). The Associated Press Stylebook, used by most newspapers in the United States, refers readers to W3 "if there is no listing in either this book or Webster's New World".
In the early 1960s, Webster's Third came under attack for its "permissiveness" and its failure to tell people what proper English was. It was the opening shot in the culture wars, as conservatives detected yet another symbol of the permissiveness of society as a whole and the decline of authority, as represented by the Second Edition. As historian Herbert Morton explained, "Webster's Second was more than respected. It was accepted as the ultimate authority on meaning and usage and its preeminence was virtually unchallenged in the United States. It did not provoke controversies, it settled them." Critics charged that the dictionary was reluctant to defend standard English, for example entirely eliminating the labels "colloquial", "correct", "incorrect", "proper", "improper", "erroneous", "humorous", "jocular", "poetic", and "contemptuous", among others.
Gove's stance was an exemplar of descriptivist linguistics: describing language as it is or has been used. As David M. Glixon put it in the Saturday Review: "Having descended from God's throne of supreme authority, the Merriam folks are now seated around the city desk, recording like mad." Jacques Barzun said this stance made Webster's Third "the longest political pamphlet ever put together by a party", done with "a dogma that far transcends the limits of lexicography".
In 1962 two English professors, James Sledd (Northwestern) and Wilma R. Ebbitt (Univ. of Chicago), published a "casebook" that compiles more than sixty lay and expert contributions to this controversy. In it, Sledd was drawn into debate with Dwight Macdonald (1906-1982), one of the most prominent critics of the dictionary, who in the pages of the The New Yorker (March 10, 1962) had accused its makers of having "untuned the string, made a sop of the solid structure of English"; Macdonald held that the dictionary was an important indicator of "the changes in our cultural climate."
The dictionary's treatment of "ain't" was subject to particular scorn, since it seemed to overrule the near-unanimous denunciation of that word by English teachers. The New Yorker ran a cartoon showing a receptionist at the dictionary's office telling a visitor that "Dr. Gove ain’t in." The entry said, "though disapproved by many and more common in less educated speech, used orally in most parts of the U.S. by many cultivated speakers esp. in the phrase ain't I". The Globe and Mail of Toronto editorialized: "a dictionary's embrace of the word 'ain't' will comfort the ignorant, confer approval upon the mediocre, and subtly imply that proper English is the tool of only the snob". The New York Times editorialized that "Webster's has, it is apparent, surrendered to the permissive school that has been busily extending its beachhead in English instruction in the schools ... reinforced the notion that good English is whatever is popular" and "can only accelerate the deterioration" of the English language. The Times' widely respected Theodore M. Bernstein, its in-house style authority and a professor of journalism at Columbia University, reported that most of the newspaper's editors decided to continue to use the Webster's Second. Garry Wills in the National Review opined that the new dictionary "has all the modern virtues. It is big, expensive, and ugly. It should be a great success".
In his Nero Wolfe novel Gambit (1962), Rex Stout famously depicted his erudite armchair detective burning pages from this edition in his fireplace because it sanctioned usages he disliked.
Criticism of the dictionary spurred the creation of The American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language, where 500 usage notes were determined by a panel of expert writers; the editor, however, often ignored their advice.
Since the 1961 publication of the Third, Merriam-Webster has reprinted the main text of the dictionary with only minor corrections. To add new words, they created an Addenda Section in 1966, included in the front matter, which was expanded in 1971, 1976, 1981, 1986, 1993, and 2002. However, the rate of additions has been much slower than it had been throughout the previous hundred years.
Following the purchase of Merriam-Webster by Encyclopædia Britannica, Inc. in 1964, a three-volume version was issued for many years as a supplement to the encyclopaedia. At the end of volume three, this edition included the Britannica World Language Dictionary, 474 pages of translations between English and French, German, Italian, Spanish, Swedish, and Yiddish.
The Merriam-Webster staff has been working on the fourth edition (W4) of the Unabridged since 2008, but a publication date has not yet been set.
A CD-ROM version of the complete text, with thousands of additional new words and definitions from the "addenda", was published by Merriam-Webster in 2000, and is often packaged with the paper edition.
Merriam-Webster introduced its Collegiate Dictionary in 1898 and the series is now in its 11th edition. Following the publication of Webster's International in 1890, two Collegiate editions were issued as abridgments of each of their Unabridged editions.
With the 9th edition (Webster's Ninth New Collegiate Dictionary (WNNCD), published in 1985), the Collegiate adopted changes which distinguish it as a separate entity rather than merely an abridgment of the Third New International (the main text of which has remained virtually unrevised since 1961). Some proper names were returned to the word list, including names of Knights of the Round Table. The most notable change was the inclusion of the date of the first known citation of each word, to document its entry into the English language. The 11th edition (published in 2003) includes over 225,000 definitions, and over 165,000 entries. A cd-rom of the text is sometimes included.
This dictionary is preferred as a source "for general matters of spelling" by the influential The Chicago Manual of Style, which is followed by many book publishers and magazines in the United States. The Chicago Manual states that it "normally opts for" the first spelling listed.
Since the late 19th century, dictionaries bearing the name Webster's have been published by companies other than Merriam-Webster. Some of these were unauthorized reprints of Noah Webster's work; some were revisions of his work. One such revision was Webster's Imperial Dictionary, based on John Ogilvie's The Imperial Dictionary of the English Language, itself an expansion of Noah Webster's American Dictionary.
Following legal action by Merriam, successive US courts ruled by 1908 that Webster's entered the public domain when the Unabridged did, in 1889. In 1917, a US court ruled that Webster's entered the public domain in 1834 when Noah Webster's 1806 dictionary's copyright lapsed. Thus, Webster's became a genericized trademark and others were free to use the name on their own works.
Since then, use of the name Webster has been rampant. Merriam-Webster goes to great pains to remind dictionary buyers that it alone is the heir to Noah Webster. The issue is more complicated than that, however. Throughout the 20th century, some non-Merriam editions, such as Webster's New Universal, were closer to Webster's work than modern Merriam-Webster editions. Indeed, further revisions by Merriam-Webster came to have little in common with their original source, while the Universal, for example, was minimally revised and remained largely out of date. However, Merriam-Webster revisionists find solid ground in Noah Webster's concept of the English language as an ever-changing tapestry.
So many dictionaries of varied size and quality have been called Webster's that the name no longer has any specific brand meaning. Despite this, many people still recognize and trust the name. Thus, Webster's continues as a powerful and lucrative marketing tool. In recent years, even established dictionaries with no direct link to Noah Webster whatsoever have adopted his name, adding to the confusion. Random House dictionaries are now called Random House Webster's, and Microsoft's Encarta World English Dictionary is now Encarta Webster's Dictionary. The dictionary now called Webster's New Universal no longer even uses the text of the original Webster's New Universal dictionary, but rather is a newly commissioned version of the Random House Dictionary.
The Webster's Online Dictionary: The Rosetta Edition is not linked to Merriam-Webster OnLine. It is a multilingual online dictionary created in 1999 by Philip M. Parker. This site compiles different online dictionaries and encyclopedia including the Webster's Revised Unabridged Dictionary (1913), the Wiktionary and Wikipedia.
Noah Webster's main competitor was a man named Joseph Emerson Worcester, whose 1830 Comprehensive Pronouncing and Explanatory Dictionary of the English Language brought accusations of plagiarism from Webster. The rivalry was carried on by Merriam after Webster's death, in what is often referred to as the "Dictionary Wars". After Worcester's death in 1865, revision of his Dictionary of the English Language was soon discontinued and it eventually went out of print.
The American edition of Charles Annandale's four volume revision of The Imperial Dictionary of the English Language, published in 1883 by the Century Company, was more comprehensive than the Unabridged. The Century Dictionary, an expansion of the Imperial first published from 1889 to 1891, covered a larger vocabulary until the publication of Webster's Second in 1934, after the Century had ceased publication.
In 1894 came Funk & Wagnalls Standard Dictionary, an attractive one volume counterpart to Webster's International. The expanded New Standard of 1913 was a worthy challenge to the New International, and remained a major competitor for many years. However, Funk & Wagnalls never revised the work, reprinting it virtually unchanged for over 50 years, while Merriam published two major revisions.
The Oxford English Dictionary (OED), which published its complete first edition in 1933, challenged Merriam in scholarship, though not in the marketplace due to its much larger size. The New International editions continued to offer words and features not covered by the OED, and vice versa. In the 1970s, the OED began publishing Supplements to its dictionary and in 1989 integrated the new words in the supplements with the older definitions and etymologies in its Second Edition.
Between the 1930s and the 1950s, several college dictionaries, notably the American College Dictionary and (non-Merriam) Webster's New World Dictionary, entered the market alongside the Collegiate. Among larger dictionaries during this period was (non-Merriam) Webster's Universal Dictionary (also published as Webster's Twentieth Century Dictionary) which traced its roots to Noah Webster and called itself "unabridged", but had less than half the vocabulary and paled in scholarship against the Merriam editions.
After the disappointing reception of Webster's Third New International in the 1960s, the market was open for new challengers. Random House adapted its college dictionary by adding more illustrations and large numbers of proper names, increasing its print size and page thickness, and giving it a heavy cover. In 1966, it was published as a new "unabridged" dictionary. It was expanded in 1987, but it still covered no more than half the actual vocabulary of Webster's Third.
The American Heritage Publishing Co., highly critical of Webster's Third, failed in an attempt to buy out Merriam-Webster and determined to create its own dictionary, The American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language. In 1969, it issued a college-sized dictionary, which has since been expanded and become one of the most popular English dictionaries.][ Now in its fourth edition, it is only slightly greater in vocabulary than the Collegiate, but it appears much larger and has the appeal of many pictures and other features. Other medium-sized dictionaries have since entered the market, including the New Oxford American and the Encarta Webster's, while Merriam-Webster has not attempted to compete by issuing a similar edition. All of these offer college editions, but Merriam-Webster's Collegiate is the largest and most popular.][
The 1828 edition of the American Dictionary of the English Language (2 volumes; New York: S. Converse, 1828) can be searched online at:
DjVu versions can be viewed at the www.archive.org site:
Plain text versions are also available from the above site (with some errors, due to automatic optical character recognition).
The dictionary's 1913 edition of the 1900 International, renamed Webster's Revised Unabridged Dictionary, has in modern times been used in various free online resources, as its copyright lapsed and it became public domain. Some of these resources include:
Both the Collegiate 1961 and the Unabridged 1913 editions are searched by the free dictionary search engine OneLook. An offline version has been built for Babylon and can be found here.
The latest edition of Merriam-Webster's Collegiate Dictionary can be searched online at the company's website. The updated Third New International is available online only by subscription.
The Oxford English Dictionary (OED), published by the Oxford University Press, is by a considerable margin the largest dictionary of the English language. Work began on the dictionary in 1857:103–4,112 but it was not until 1884 that it started to be published in unbound fascicles as work continued on the project under the name A New English Dictionary on Historical Principles; Founded Mainly on the Materials Collected by The Philological Society.:169 In 1895, the title The Oxford English Dictionary (OED) was first used unofficially on the covers of the series and in 1928 the full dictionary was republished in ten bound volumes. In 1933, it fully replaced the name in all occurrences to The Oxford English Dictionary (OED) in its reprinting as twelve volumes with a one volume supplement and more supplements came over the years until in 1989 when the second edition was published in twenty volumes. As of 24 March 2011[update], the editors had completed the third edition from M to Ryvita. With descriptions for approximately 750,000 words, the Oxford English Dictionary is the world's most comprehensive single-language print dictionary according to the Guinness Book of World Records.][
The first electronic version of the dictionary was made available in 1988. The online version has been available since 2000, and as of August 2010 was receiving two million hits per month from paying subscribers. The chief executive of Oxford University Press, Nigel Portwood, feels it unlikely that the third edition will ever be printed.
According to the publishers, it would take a single person 120 years to "key in" text to convert it to machine readable form which consists of a total of 59 million words of the OED second edition, 60 years to proofread it, and 540 megabytes to store it electronically. As of 30 November 2005, the Oxford English Dictionary contained approximately 301,100 main entries. Supplementing the entry headwords, there are 157,000 bold-type combinations and derivatives; 169,000 italicized-bold phrases and combinations; 616,500 word-forms in total, including 137,000 pronunciations; 249,300 etymologies; 577,000 cross-references; and 2,412,400 usage quotations. The dictionary's latest, complete print edition (Second Edition, 1989) was printed in 20 volumes, comprising 291,500 entries in 21,730 pages. The longest entry in the OED2 was for the verb set, which required 60,000 words to describe some 430 senses. As entries began to be revised for the OED3 in sequence starting from M, the longest entry became make in 2000, then put in 2007, then run in 2011.
Despite its impressive size, the OED is neither the world's largest nor the earliest exhaustive dictionary of a language. The Dutch dictionary Woordenboek der Nederlandsche Taal, which has similar aims to the OED, is the largest, taking twice as long to complete. Another earlier large dictionary is the Grimm brothers' dictionary of the German language, begun in 1838 and completed in 1961. The first edition of the Vocabolario degli Accademici della Crusca, which is the first great dictionary devoted to a modern European language (Italian), was published in 1612; the first edition of Dictionnaire de l'Académie française dates from 1694. The first edition of the official dictionary of Spanish, the Diccionario de la lengua española (produced, edited, and published by the Real Academia Española) was published in 1780. The Kangxi dictionary of Chinese was published even earlier, in 1716.][
The OED's official policy is to attempt to record a word's most-known usages and variants in all varieties of English past and present, worldwide. Per the 1933 "Preface":
The OED is the focus of much scholarly work about English words. Its headword variant spellings order list influences written English in English-speaking countries.][
At first, the dictionary was unconnected to Oxford University but was the idea of a small group of intellectuals in London;:103–4,112 it originally was a Philological Society project conceived in London by Richard Chenevix Trench, Herbert Coleridge, and Frederick Furnivall, who were dissatisfied with the current English dictionaries. In June 1857, they formed an "Unregistered Words Committee" to search for unlisted and undefined words lacking in current dictionaries. In November, Trench's report was not a list of unregistered words; instead, it was the study On Some Deficiencies in our English Dictionaries, which identified seven distinct shortcomings in contemporary dictionaries:
The Philological Society, however, ultimately realized that the number of unlisted words would be far more than the number of words in the English dictionaries of the 19th century. The Society eventually shifted their idea from only words that were not already in English dictionaries to a more comprehensive project. Trench suggested that a new, truly comprehensive dictionary was needed. On 7 January 1858, the Society formally adopted the idea of a comprehensive new dictionary.:107–8 Volunteer readers would be assigned particular books, copying passages illustrating word usage onto quotation slips. In 1858, the Society agreed to the project in principle, with the title A New English Dictionary on Historical Principles (NED).
Richard Chenevix Trench played the key role in the project's first months, but his Church of England appointment as Dean of Westminster meant that he could not give the dictionary project the time it required; he withdrew, and Herbert Coleridge became the first editor.
On 12 May 1860, Coleridge's dictionary plan was published, and research started. His house was the first editorial office. He arrayed 100,000 quotation slips in a 54-pigeon-hole grid. In April 1861, the group published the first sample pages; later that month, the thirty-year-old Coleridge died of tuberculosis.
Furnivall then became editor; he was enthusiastic and knowledgeable, yet temperamentally ill-suited for the work.:110 Many volunteer readers eventually lost interest in the project as Furnivall failed to keep them motivated. Furthermore, many of the slips had been misplaced.
Furnivall believed that since many printed texts from earlier centuries were not readily available, it would be impossible for volunteers to efficiently locate the quotations that the dictionary needed. As a result, Furnival founded the Early English Text Society in 1864 and the Chaucer Society in 1868 to publish old manuscripts. Furnivall's preparatory efforts, which lasted 21 years, provided numerous texts for the use and enjoyment of the general public as well as crucial sources for lexicographers, but did not actually involve compiling a dictionary. Furnivall recruited over 800 volunteers to read these texts and record quotations. While enthusiastic, the volunteers were not well trained and often made inconsistent and arbitrary selections. Ultimately, Furnivall would hand over nearly two tons of quotation slips and other materials to his successor.
In the 1870s, Furnivall unsuccessfully attempted to recruit both Henry Sweet and Henry Nicol to succeed him. He then approached James Murray, who accepted the post of editor. In the late 1870s, Furnivall and Murray met with several publishers about publishing the dictionary. In 1878, Oxford University Press agreed with Murray to proceed with the massive project; the agreement was formalized the following year.:111–2 The dictionary project finally had a publisher 20 years after the idea was conceived. It would be another 50 years before the entire dictionary was complete.
Late in his editorship Murray learned that one prolific reader, W. C. Minor, was a criminal lunatic.:xiii Minor, a Yale University trained surgeon and military officer in the U.S. Civil War, was confined to Broadmoor Asylum for the Criminally Insane after killing a man in London. Minor invented his own quotation-tracking system allowing him to submit slips on specific words in response to editors' requests. The story of Murray and Minor later served as the central focus of a popular 20th-century book about the creation of the OED.
During the 1870s, the Philological Society was concerned with the process of publishing a dictionary with such an immense scope. Although they had pages printed by publishers, no publication agreement was reached; both the Cambridge University Press and the Oxford University Press were approached. Finally, in 1879, after two years' negotiating by Sweet, Furnivall, and Murray, the OUP agreed to publish the dictionary and to pay the editor, Murray, who was also the Philological Society president. The dictionary was to be published as interval fascicles, with the final form in four 6,400-page volumes. They hoped to finish the project in ten years.
Murray started the project, working in a corrugated iron outbuilding, the "Scriptorium", which was lined with wooden planks, book shelves, and 1,029 pigeon-holes for the quotation slips. He tracked and regathered Furnivall's collection of quotation slips, which were found to concentrate on rare, interesting words rather than common usages: for instance, there were ten times as many quotations for abusion than for abuse. Through newspapers distributed to bookshops and libraries, he appealed for readers who would report "as many quotations as you can for ordinary words" and for words that were "rare, obsolete, old-fashioned, new, peculiar or used in a peculiar way". Murray had American philologist and liberal-arts-college professor Francis March manage the collection in North America; 1,000 quotation slips arrived daily to the Scriptorium, and by 1882, there were 3,500,000.
The first Dictionary fascicle was published on 1 February 1884—twenty-three years after Coleridge's sample pages. The full title was A New English Dictionary on Historical Principles; Founded Mainly on the Materials Collected by The Philological Society; the 352-page volume, words from A to Ant, cost 12s.6d (equivalent to £265 for 2010) or (US$3.25) at the time. The total sales were a disappointing 4,000 copies.:169
The OUP saw it would take too long to complete the work with unrevised editorial arrangements. Accordingly, new assistants were hired and two new demands were made on Murray. The first was that he moved from Mill Hill to Oxford; he did, in 1885. Murray had his Scriptorium re-erected on his new property.
Murray resisted the second demand: that if he could not meet schedule, he must hire a second, senior editor to work in parallel to him, outside his supervision, on words from elsewhere in the alphabet. Murray did not want to share the work, feeling he would accelerate his work pace with experience.][ That turned out not to be so, and Philip Gell of the OUP forced the promotion of Murray's assistant Henry Bradley (hired by Murray in 1884), who worked independently in the British Museum in London, beginning in 1888. In 1896, Bradley moved to Oxford University.
Gell continued harassing Murray and Bradley with his business concerns—containing costs and speeding production—to the point where the project's collapse seemed likely. Newspapers, particularly the Saturday Review, reported the harassment, and public opinion backed the editors.:182–83 Gell was fired, and the University reversed his cost policies. If the editors felt that the Dictionary would have to grow larger, it would; it was an important work, and worth the time and money to properly finish. Neither Murray nor Bradley lived to see it. Murray died in 1915, having been responsible for words starting with A–D, H–K, O–P and T, nearly half the finished dictionary; Bradley died in 1923, having completed E–G, L–M, S–Sh, St and W–We. By then two additional editors had been promoted from assistant work to independent work, continuing without much trouble. William Craigie, starting in 1901, was responsible for N, Q–R, Si–Sq, U–V and Wo–Wy. Whereas previously the OUP had thought London too far from Oxford, after 1925 Craigie worked on the dictionary in Chicago, where he was a professor. The fourth editor was CT Onions, who, starting in 1914, compiled the remaining ranges, Su–Sz, Wh–Wo and X–Z.][ It was around this time that J. R. R. Tolkien was employed by the OED, researching etymologies of the Waggle to Warlock range; he parodied the principal editors as "The Four Wise Clerks of Oxenford" in the story Farmer Giles of Ham. Julian Barnes also was an employee; he was said][ to dislike the work.
By early 1894 a total of 11 fascicles had been published, or about one per year: four for A–B, five for C, and two for E. Of these, eight were 352 pages long, while the last one in each group was shorter to end at the letter break (which would eventually become a volume break). At this point it was decided to publish the work in smaller and more frequent instalments: once every three months, beginning in 1895, there would now be a fascicle of 64 pages, priced at 2s.6d. (or US$1). If enough material was ready, 128 or even 192 pages would be published together. This pace was maintained until World War I forced reductions in staff. Each time enough consecutive pages were available, the same material was also published in the original larger fascicles.][
Also in 1895, the title Oxford English Dictionary (OED) was first used. It then appeared only on the outer covers of the fascicles; the original title was still the official one and was used everywhere else. The 125th and last fascicle, covering words from Wise to the end of W, was published on 19 April 1928, and the full Dictionary in bound volumes followed immediately.][
The early modern English prose of Sir Thomas Browne is probably the most frequently quoted source of neologisms in the completed dictionary. William Shakespeare is the most-quoted writer, with Hamlet his most-quoted work. George Eliot (Mary Ann Evans) is the most-quoted woman writer. Collectively, the Bible is the most-quoted work (but in many different translations); the most-quoted single work is Cursor Mundi.
Between 1928 and 1933 enough additional material had been compiled to make a one volume supplement so the dictionary was reissued as the set of 12 volumes and a one-volume supplement in 1933.
In 1933 Oxford had finally put the Dictionary to rest; all work ended, and the quotation slips went into storage. However, the English language continued to change, and by the time 20 years had passed, the Dictionary was outdated.
There were three possible ways to update it. The cheapest would have been to leave the existing work alone and simply compile a new supplement of perhaps one or two volumes; but then anyone looking for a word or sense and unsure of its age would have to look in three different places. The most convenient choice for the user would have been for the entire dictionary to be re-edited and retypeset, with each change included in its proper alphabetical place; but this would have been the most expensive option, with perhaps 15 volumes required to be produced. The OUP chose a middle approach: combining the new material with the existing supplement to form a larger replacement supplement.
Robert Burchfield was hired in 1957 to edit the second supplement; Onions, who turned 84 that year, was still able to make some contributions as well. Burchfield emphasized the inclusion of modern-day language, and through the supplement the dictionary was expanded to include a wealth of new words from the burgeoning fields of science and technology, as well as popular culture and colloquial speech. Burchfield said that he broadened the scope to include developments of the language in English-speaking regions beyond the United Kingdom, including North America, Australia, New Zealand, South Africa, India, Pakistan, and the Caribbean. In 2012 it emerged that Burchfield's second supplement had removed a large number of words which were present in the earlier 1933 supplement supervised by Onions, which his second supplement incorporated. The proportion was estimated from a sample calculation to amount to 17% of the foreign loan words and words from regional forms of English. Many of these had only a single recorded usage, but it ran against what was thought to be the established OED editorial practice and a perception that he had opened up the dictionary to 'World English'. The work on the supplement was expected to take seven to ten years.][ It actually took 29 years, by which time the new supplement (OEDS) had grown to four volumes, starting with A, H, O and Sea. They were published in 1972, 1976, 1982, and 1986 respectively, bringing the complete dictionary to 16 volumes, or 17 counting the first supplement.
By this time it was clear that the full text of the Dictionary would now need to be computerized. Achieving this would require retyping it once, but thereafter it would always be accessible for computer searching – as well as for whatever new editions of the dictionary might be desired, starting with an integration of the supplementary volumes and the main text. Preparation for this process began in 1983, and editorial work started the following year under the administrative direction of Timothy J. Benbow, with John A. Simpson and Edmund S. C. Weiner as co-editors.
And so the New Oxford English Dictionary (NOED) project began. More than 120 keyboarders of the International Computaprint Corporation in Tampa, Florida, and Fort Washington, Pennsylvania, USA, started keying in over 350,000,000 characters, their work checked by 55 proof-readers in England. Retyping the text alone was not sufficient; all the information represented by the complex typography of the original dictionary had to be retained, which was done by marking up the content in SGML. A specialized search engine and display software were also needed to access it. Under a 1985 agreement, some of this software work was done at the University of Waterloo, Canada, at the Centre for the New Oxford English Dictionary, led by Frank Tompa and Gaston Gonnet; this search technology went on to become the basis for the Open Text Corporation. Computer hardware, database and other software, development managers, and programmers for the project were donated by the British subsidiary of IBM; the colour syntax-directed editor for the project, LEXX, was written by Mike Cowlishaw of IBM. The University of Waterloo, in Canada, volunteered to design the database. A. Walton Litz, an English professor at Princeton University who served on the Oxford University Press advisory council, was quoted in Time as saying "I've never been associated with a project, I've never even heard of a project, that was so incredibly complicated and that met every deadline."
By 1989 the NOED project had achieved its primary goals, and the editors, working online, had successfully combined the original text, Burchfield's supplement, and a small amount of newer material, into a single unified dictionary. The word "new" was again dropped from the name, and the Second Edition of the OED, or the OED2, was published. The first edition retronymically became the OED1.
The OED2 was printed in 20 volumes. For the first time, there was no attempt to start them on letter boundaries, and they were made roughly equal in size. The 20 volumes started with A, B.B.C., Cham, Creel, Dvandva, Follow, Hat, Interval, Look, Moul, Ow, Poise, Quemadero, Rob, Ser, Soot, Su, Thru, Unemancipated, and Wave.
Although the content of the OED2 is mostly just a reorganization of the earlier corpus, the retypesetting provided an opportunity for two long-needed format changes. The headword of each entry was no longer capitalized, allowing the user to readily see those words that actually require a capital letter. Also, whereas Murray had devised his own notation for pronunciation, there being no standard available at the time, the OED2 adopted the modern International Phonetic Alphabet. Unlike the earlier edition, all foreign alphabets except Greek were transliterated.
The British quiz show Countdown has awarded the leather-bound complete version to the champions of each series since its inception in 1982.
When the print version of the second edition was published in 1989, the response was enthusiastic. The author Anthony Burgess declared it "the greatest publishing event of the century", as quoted by the Los Angeles Times. Time dubbed the book "a scholarly Everest", and Richard Boston, writing for The Guardian, called it "one of the wonders of the world".
New material was published in the Oxford English Dictionary Additions Series, which consisted of two small volumes in 1993, and a third in 1997, bringing the dictionary to a total of 23 volumes. Each of the supplements added about 3,000 new definitions. However, no more Additions volumes are planned, and it is not expected that any part of the Third Edition, or OED3, will be printed in fascicles.
In 1971, the 13-volume OED1 (1933) was reprinted as a two-volume, Compact Edition, by photographically reducing each page to one-half its linear dimensions; each compact edition page held four OED1 pages in a four-up ("4-up") format. The two volume letters were A and P; the Supplement was at the second volume's end.
The Compact Edition included, in a small slip-case drawer, a magnifying glass to help in reading reduced type. Many copies were inexpensively distributed through book clubs. In 1987, the second Supplement was published as a third volume to the Compact Edition. In 1991, for the OED2, the compact edition format was re-sized to one-third of original linear dimensions, a nine-up ("9-up") format requiring greater magnification, but allowing publication of a single-volume dictionary. It was accompanied by a magnifying glass as before and A User's Guide to the "Oxford English Dictionary", by Donna Lee Berg. After these volumes were published, though, book club offers commonly continued to sell the two-volume 1971 Compact Edition.
The 'Oxford Compact English Dictionary', edited by Della Thompson and published in 1996, is a single-volume edition.
Once the text of the dictionary was digitized and online, it was also available to be published on CD-ROM. The text of the First Edition was made available in 1988. Afterward, three versions of the second edition were issued. Version 1 (1992) was identical in content to the printed Second Edition, and the CD itself was not copy-protected. Version 2 (1999) had some additions to the corpus, and updated software with improved searching features, but it had clumsy copy-protection that made it difficult to use and would even cause the program to deny use to OUP staff in the midst of demonstrating the product.][
Version 3.0 was released in 2002 with additional words and software improvements, though its copy-protection remained as unforgiving as that of the earlier version. Version 3.1.1 (2007) includes a return to the less restrictive nature of version 1, with support for hard disk installation, so that the user does not have to insert the CD to use the dictionary. It has been reported that this version will work on operating systems other than Microsoft Windows, using emulation programs. Version 4.0 of the CD, available since June 2009, works with Windows 7 and, for the first time ever, with Mac OS X (10.4 or later). This version will use the CD drive for installation, running only from the hard drive.
On 14 March 2000, the Oxford English Dictionary Online (OED Online) became available to subscribers. The online database contains the entire OED2 and is updated quarterly with revisions that will be included in the OED3 (see below). The online edition is the most up-to-date version of the dictionary available. Whilst the OED web site is not optimised for mobile devices, they have stated that there are plans to provide an API which would enable developers to develop different interfaces for querying the OED.
As the price for an individual to use this edition, even after a reduction in 2004, is £195 or US$295 every year, most subscribers are large organizations such as universities. Some of them do not use the Oxford English Dictionary Online portal and have legally downloaded the entire database into their organization's computers.][ Some public libraries and companies have subscribed as well, including, in March and April 2006, most public libraries in England, Wales, and New Zealand; any person belonging to a library subscribing to the service is able to use the service from their own home without charge.
Another method of payment was introduced in 2004, offering residents of North or South America the opportunity to pay US$29.95 a month to access the online site.][
The Oxford English Dictionary Third Edition, or OED3, is intended as a nearly complete overhaul of the work. Each word is being examined and revised to improve the accuracy of the definitions, derivations, pronunciations, and historical quotations—a task requiring the efforts of a staff consisting of more than 300 scholars, researchers, readers, and consultants, and projected to cost about £35 million (US$55 million)][. The result is expected to double the overall length of the text. The style of the dictionary will also change slightly. The original text was more literary, in that most of the quotations were taken from novels, plays, and other literary sources. The new edition, however, will reference all manner of printed resources, such as cookbooks, wills, technical manuals, specialist journals, and rock lyrics. The pace of inclusion of new words has been increased to the rate of about 4,000 a year. The estimated date of completion is 2037.
New content can be viewed through the OED Online or on the periodically updated CD-ROM edition.
As of 1993[update], John Simpson is the Chief Editor. Since the early work by each editor tends to be less polished and require more revision than their later work, it was decided to begin work on the current revision at a letter other than A (where work on the first edition was begun) in order to balance out this effect. Accordingly, the main work of the OED3 has been proceeding in sequence from the letter M. When the OED Online was launched in March 2000, it included the first batch of revised entries (officially described as draft entries), stretching from M to mahurat, and successive sections of text have since been released on a quarterly basis; by 24 March 2011, the revised section had reached Ryvita, and by December 2012, revisions reached "statuvolize, v.".
As new work is done on words in other parts of the alphabet, this is also included in each quarterly release. In March 2008, the editors announced that they would alternate each quarter between moving forward in the alphabet as before and updating "key English words from across the alphabet, along with the other words which make up the alphabetical cluster surrounding them".
The production of the new edition takes full advantage of computers, particularly since the June 2005 inauguration of the whimsically named "Perfect All-Singing All-Dancing Editorial and Notation Application", or "Pasadena". With this XML-based system, the attention of lexicographers can be directed more to matters of content than to presentation issues such as the numbering of definitions. The new system has also simplified the use of the quotations database, and enabled staff in New York to work directly on the Dictionary in the same way as their Oxford-based counterparts.
Other important computer uses include internet searches for evidence of current usage, and e-mail submissions of quotations by readers and the general public.
Wordhunt was a 2005 appeal to the general public for help in providing citations for 50 selected recent words, and produced antedatings for many. The results were reported in a BBC TV series, Balderdash and Piffle. The OEDs small army of devoted readers continue to contribute quotations; the department currently receives about 200,000 a year.
The OED lists British headword spellings (e.g. labour, centre) with variants following (labor, center, etc.). For the suffix more commonly spelt -ise in British English, OUP policy dictates a preference for the spelling -ize, e.g. realize vs realise and globalization vs globalisation. The rationale is etymological, in that the English suffix mainly derives from the Greek suffix -ιζειν, (-izein), or the Latin -izāre. However -ze is also sometimes treated as an Americanism insofar as the -ze suffix has crept into words where it did not originally belong, as with analyse (British English), which is spelt analyze in American English. See also -ise/-ize at American and British English spelling differences.
The sentence "The group analysed labour statistics published by the organization" is an example of OUP practice. This spelling (indicated with the registered IANA language tag en-GB-oed) is used by the United Nations, the World Trade Organization, the International Organization for Standardization, and many British academic publications, such as Nature, the Biochemical Journal, and The Times Literary Supplement.
Despite its claim of authority on the English language, the Oxford English Dictionary has been criticised from various angles. It has become a target precisely because of its massiveness, its claims to authority, and above all its influence][. In his review of the 1982 supplement, University of Oxford linguist Roy Harris writes that criticizing the OED is extremely difficult because "one is dealing not just with a dictionary but with a national institution", one that "has become, like the English monarchy, virtually immune from criticism in principle".:935 Harris also criticises what he sees as the "black-and-white lexicography" of the Dictionary, by which he means its reliance upon printed language over spoken—and then only privileged forms of printing. He further notes that, while neologisms from respected "literary" authors such as Samuel Beckett and Virginia Woolf are included, usage of words in newspapers or other, less "respectable", sources hold less sway, although they may be commonly used.:935 He writes that the OED’s "[b]lack-and-white lexicography is also black-and-white in that it takes upon itself to pronounce authoritatively on the rights and wrongs of usage",:935 faulting the Dictionary’s prescriptive, rather than descriptive, usage. To Harris, this prescriptive classification of certain usages as "erroneous" and the complete omission of various forms and usages cumulatively represent the "social bias[es]" of the (presumably well-educated and wealthy) compilers.:936
Harris also faults the editors' "donnish conservatism" and their adherence to prudish Victorian morals, citing as an example the non-inclusion of "various centuries-old 'four-letter words'" until 1972.:935 Founding editor James Murray was also reluctant to include scientific terms, despite their documentation, unless he felt they were widely enough used. In 1902 he declined to add the word "radium" to the dictionary.
In contrast, Tim Bray, co-creator of eXtensible Markup Language (XML), credits the OED as the developing inspiration of that markup language. Similarly, the author Anu Garg, founder of Wordsmith.org, has called the Oxford English Dictionary a "lex icon".
Urban Dictionary is a Web-based dictionary that contains more than seven million definitions as of 2 March 2013[update]. Submissions are regulated by volunteer editors and rated by site visitors. Time's Anita Hamilton included it on her 50 best websites of 2008 list.
The site was founded in 1999 by Aaron Peckham while he was a freshman computer science major at California Polytechnic State University. One of the first definitions on the site was "the man", defined as "the faces of 'the establishment' put in place to 'bring us down'".
The website was referenced in a 2011 District Court complaint by ATF agents to document the meaning of the vulgarism "murk" as used in a criminal threat. It also consists of names and slang.
In the context of Urban Dictionary, "definitions" include not only literal definitions, but also descriptions. As such, "to define" a word or phrase on Urban Dictionary does not necessarily entail providing a strict definition; merely a description of some aspect of the word or phrase could suffice for inclusion in the dictionary.
Originally, Urban Dictionary was intended as a dictionary of slang or cultural words or phrases not typically found in standard dictionaries, but it is now used to define any word or phrase. Words or phrases on Urban Dictionary may have multiple definitions, usage examples, and tags.
Visitors to Urban Dictionary may submit definitions without registering, but they must provide a valid e-mail address. Before they are included in the dictionary, all new definitions must be approved by voluntary editors. Editors are not given any guidelines to use when approving or rejecting definitions.
A valid e-mail address is required to submit a definition. By default, each definition is automatically accepted or rejected based on the number of "Publish" or "Don't Publish" votes it receives by editors, comprising volunteers of the public. There are no criteria that editors have to follow in approving or rejecting definitions; often definitions are not even read during the decision process. A valid e-mail address was previously but is no longer required for editing. Editors are distinguished by their IP address and through the site's usage of HTTP cookies, in order to limit each editor from voting on any particular definition too many times. If a definition is rejected, it is automatically rejected upon re-submission in the future if there are no changes to it. If a definition is published, it is immediately displayed on the site. The definition can then be voted "up" or "down" by site visitors, and may be removed for certain reasons.
As of April 2013[update], the site contains over 7 million definitions. As of April 2009[update], an average of 2,000 are submitted every day, and the site receives approximately 15 million unique visitors per month, with 80% of users being younger than 25. As of February 2013[update], Urban Dictionary's Alexa rating is 845, with a rating of 396 in the United States and 43,559 sites linking in.
A dictionary (also called a wordstock, word reference, wordbook, lexicon, or vocabulary) is a collection of words in one or more specific languages, often listed alphabetically (or by radical and stroke for ideographic languages), with usage information, definitions, etymologies, phonetics, pronunciations, and other information; or a book of words in one language with their equivalents in another, also known as a lexicon. According to Nielsen (2008) a dictionary may be regarded as a lexicographical product that is characterised by three significant features: (1) it has been prepared for one or more functions; (2) it contains data that have been selected for the purpose of fulfilling those functions; and (3) its lexicographic structures link and establish relationships between the data so that they can meet the needs of users and fulfill the functions of the dictionary.
A broad distinction is made between general and specialized dictionaries. Specialized dictionaries do not contain information about words that are used in language for general purposes—words used by ordinary people in everyday situations. Lexical items that describe concepts in specific fields are usually called terms instead of words, although there is no consensus whether lexicology and terminology are two different fields of study. In theory, general dictionaries are supposed to be semasiological, mapping word to definition, while specialized dictionaries are supposed to be onomasiological, first identifying concepts and then establishing the terms used to designate them. In practice, the two approaches are used for both types. There are other types of dictionaries that don't fit neatly in the above distinction, for instance bilingual (translation) dictionaries, dictionaries of synonyms (thesauri), or rhyming dictionaries. The word dictionary (unqualified) is usually understood to refer to a monolingual general-purpose dictionary.
A different dimension on which dictionaries (usually just general-purpose ones) are sometimes distinguished is whether they are descriptive or prescriptive, the latter being in theory largely based on linguistic corpus studies—this is the case of most modern dictionaries. However, this distinction cannot be upheld in the strictest sense. The choice of headwords is considered itself of prescriptive nature; for instance, dictionaries avoid having too many taboo words in that position. Stylistic indications (e.g. ‘informal’ or ‘vulgar’) present in many modern dictionaries is considered less than objectively descriptive as well.
Although the first recorded dictionaries date back to Sumerian times (these were bilingual dictionaries), the systematic study of dictionaries as objects of scientific interest themselves is a 20th-century enterprise, called lexicography, and largely initiated by Ladislav Zgusta. The birth of the new discipline was not without controversy, the practical dictionary-makers being sometimes accused of "astonishing" lack of method and critical-self reflection.
The oldest known dictionaries were Akkadian Empire cuneiform tablets with bilingual Sumerian–Akkadian wordlists, discovered in Ebla (modern Syria) and dated roughly 2300 BCE. The early 2nd millennium BCE Urra=hubullu glossary is the canonical Babylonian version of such bilingual Sumerian wordlists. A Chinese dictionary, the c. 3rd century BCE Erya, was the earliest surviving monolingual dictionary; although some sources cite the c. 800 BCE Shizhoupian as a "dictionary", modern scholarship considers it a calligraphic compendium of Chinese characters from Zhou dynasty bronzes. Philitas of Cos (fl. 4th century BCE) wrote a pioneering vocabulary Disorderly Words (Ἄτακτοι γλῶσσαι, ) which explained the meanings of rare Homeric and other literary words, words from local dialects, and technical terms. Apollonius the Sophist (fl. 1st century CE) wrote the oldest surviving Homeric lexicon. The first Sanskrit dictionary, the Amarakośa, was written by Amara Sinha c. 4th century CE. Written in verse, it listed around 10,000 words. According to the Nihon Shoki, the first Japanese dictionary was the long-lost 682 CE Niina glossary of Chinese characters. The oldest existing Japanese dictionary, the c. 835 CE Tenrei Banshō Meigi, was also a glossary of written Chinese. A 9th-century CE Irish dictionary, Sanas Cormaic, contained etymologies and explanations of over 1,400 Irish words. In India around 1320, Amir Khusro compliled the Khaliq-e-bari which mainly dealt with Hindvi and Persian words.
Arabic dictionaries were compiled between the 8th and 14th centuries CE, organizing words in rhyme order (by the last syllable), by alphabetical order of the radicals, or according to the alphabetical order of the first letter (the system used in modern European language dictionaries). The modern system was mainly used in specialist dictionaries, such as those of terms from the Qur'an and hadith, while most general use dictionaries, such as the Lisan al-`Arab (13th century, still the best-known large-scale dictionary of Arabic) and al-Qamus al-Muhit (14th century) listed words in the alphabetical order of the radicals. The Qamus al-Muhit is the first handy dictionary in Arabic, which includes only words and their definitions, eliminating the supporting examples used in such dictionaries as the Lisan and the Oxford English Dictionary.
In medieval Europe, glossaries with equivalents for Latin words in vernacular or simpler Latin were in use (e.g. the Leiden Glossary). The Catholicon (1287) by Johannes Balbus, a large grammatical work with an alphabetical lexicon, was widely adopted. It served as the basis for several bilingual dictionaries and was one of the earliest books (in 1460) to be printed. In 1502 Ambrogio Calepino's Dictionarium was published, originally a monolingual Latin dictionary, which over the course of the 16th century was enlarged to become a multilingual glossary. In 1532 Robert Estienne published the Thesaurus linguae latinae and in 1572 his son Henri Estienne published the Thesaurus linguae graecae, which served up to the 19th century as the basis of Greek lexicography. The first monolingual dictionary written in a Romance language was Sebastián Covarrubias' Tesoro de la lengua castellana o española, published in 1611 in Madrid. In 1612 the first edition of the Vocabolario dell'Accademia della Crusca, for Italian, was published. It served as the model for similar works in French, Spanish and English. In 1690 in Rotterdam was published, posthumously, the Dictionnaire Universel by Antoine Furetière for French. In 1694 appeared the first edition of the Dictionnaire de l'Académie française. Between 1712 and 1721 was published the Vocabulario portughez e latino written by Raphael Bluteau. The Real Academia Española published the first edition of the Diccionario de la lengua española in 1780, but their Diccionario de Autoridades, which included quotes taken from literary works, was published in 1726. The Totius Latinitatis lexicon by Egidio Forcellini was firstly published in 1777; it has formed the basis of all similar works that have since been published.
The first edition of A Greek-English Lexicon by Henry George Liddell and Robert Scott appeared in 1843; this work remained the basic dictionary of Greek until the end of the 20th century. And in 1858 was published the first volume of the Deutsches Wörterbuch by the Brothers Grimm; the work was completed in 1961. Between 1861 and 1874 was published the Dizionario della lingua italiana by Niccolò Tommaseo. Émile Littré published the Dictionnaire de la langue française between 1863 and 1872. In the same year 1863 appeared the first volume of the Woordenboek der Nederlandsche Taal which was completed in 1998. Also in 1863 Vladimir Ivanovich Dahl published the Explanatory Dictionary of the Living Great Russian Language. The Duden dictionary dates back to 1880, and is currently the prescriptive source for the spelling of German. In 1898 was printed the first volume of the Svenska Akademiens ordbok, whose publication is still in progress.
The earliest dictionaries in the English language were glossaries of French, Italian or Latin words along with definitions of the foreign words in English. Of note, the word dictionary was invented by an Englishman called John of Garland in 1220 - he had written a book Dictionarius to help with Latin diction. An early non-alphabetical list of 8000 English words was the Elementarie created by Richard Mulcaster in 1592.
The first purely English alphabetical dictionary was A Table Alphabeticall, written by English schoolteacher Robert Cawdrey in 1604. The only surviving copy is found at the Bodleian Library in Oxford. Yet this early effort, as well as the many imitators which followed it, was seen as unreliable and nowhere near definitive. Philip Stanhope, 4th Earl of Chesterfield was still lamenting in 1754, 150 years after Cawdrey's publication, that it is "a sort of disgrace to our nation, that hitherto we have had no… standard of our language; our dictionaries at present being more properly what our neighbors the Dutch and the Germans call theirs, word-books, than dictionaries in the superior sense of that title."
It was not until Samuel Johnson's A Dictionary of the English Language (1755) that a truly noteworthy, reliable English Dictionary was deemed to have been produced, and the fact that today many people still mistakenly believe Johnson to have written the first English Dictionary is a testimony to this legacy. By this stage, dictionaries had evolved to contain textual references for most words, and were arranged alphabetically, rather than by topic (a previously popular form of arrangement, which meant all animals would be grouped together, etc.). Johnson's masterwork could be judged as the first to bring all these elements together, creating the first 'modern' dictionary.
Johnson's Dictionary remained the English-language standard for over 150 years, until the Oxford University Press began writing and releasing the Oxford English Dictionary in short fascicles from 1884 onwards. It took nearly 50 years to finally complete the huge work, and they finally released the complete OED in twelve volumes in 1928. It remains the most comprehensive and trusted English language dictionary to this day, with revisions and updates added by a dedicated team every three months. One of the main contributors to this modern day dictionary was an ex-army surgeon, William Chester Minor, a convicted murderer who was confined to an asylum for the criminally insane.
In 1806, American Noah Webster published his first dictionary, A Compendious Dictionary of the English Language. In 1807 Webster began compiling an expanded and fully comprehensive dictionary, An American Dictionary of the English Language; it took twenty-seven years to complete. To evaluate the etymology of words, Webster learned twenty-six languages, including Old English (Anglo-Saxon), German, Greek, Latin, Italian, Spanish, French, Hebrew, Arabic, and Sanskrit.
Webster completed his dictionary during his year abroad in 1825 in Paris, France, and at the University of Cambridge. His book contained seventy thousand words, of which twelve thousand had never appeared in a published dictionary before. As a spelling reformer, Webster believed that English spelling rules were unnecessarily complex, so his dictionary introduced American English spellings, replacing "colour" with "color", substituting "wagon" for "waggon", and printing "center" instead of "centre". He also added American words, like "skunk" and "squash", that did not appear in British dictionaries. At the age of seventy, Webster published his dictionary in 1828; it sold 2500 copies. In 1840, the second edition was published in two volumes.
Austin (2005) explores the intersection of lexicographical and poetic practices in American literature, and attempts to map out a "lexical poetics" using Webster's definitions as his base. He explores how American poets used Webster's dictionaries, often drawing upon his lexicography in order to express their word play. Austin explicates key definitions from both the Compendious (1806) and American (1828) dictionaries, and brings into its discourse a range of concerns, including the politics of American English, the question of national identity and culture in the early moments of American independence, and the poetics of citation and of definition. Austin concludes that Webster's dictionaries helped redefine Americanism in an era of an emergent and unstable American political and cultural identity. Webster himself saw the dictionaries as a nationalizing device to separate America from Britain, calling his project a "federal language", with competing forces towards regularity on the one hand and innovation on the other. Austin suggests that the contradictions of Webster's lexicography were part of a larger play between liberty and order within American intellectual discourse, with some pulled toward Europe and the past, and others pulled toward America and the new future.
For an international appreciation of the importance of Webster's dictionaries in setting the norms of the English language, see Forque (1982).
In a general dictionary, each word may have multiple meanings. Some dictionaries include each separate meaning in the order of most common usage while others list definitions in historical order, with the oldest usage first.
In many languages, words can appear in many different forms, but only the undeclined or unconjugated form appears as the headword in most dictionaries. Dictionaries are most commonly found in the form of a book, but some newer dictionaries, like StarDict and the New Oxford American Dictionary are dictionary software running on PDAs or computers. There are also many online dictionaries accessible via the Internet.
According to the Manual of Specialized Lexicographies a specialized dictionary (also referred to as a technical dictionary) is a lexicon that focuses upon a specific subject field. Following the description in The Bilingual LSP Dictionary lexicographers categorize specialized dictionaries into three types. A multi-field dictionary broadly covers several subject fields (e.g., a business dictionary), a single-field dictionary narrowly covers one particular subject field (e.g., law), and a sub-field dictionary covers a singular field (e.g., constitutional law). For example, the 23-language Inter-Active Terminology for Europe is a multi-field dictionary, the American National Biography is a single-field, and the African American National Biography Project is a sub-field dictionary. In terms of the above coverage distinction between "minimizing dictionaries" and "maximizing dictionaries", multi-field dictionaries tend to minimize coverage across subject fields (for instance, Oxford Dictionary of World Religions) whereas single-field and sub-field dictionaries tend to maximize coverage within a limited subject field (The Oxford Dictionary of English Etymology).
Another variant is the glossary, an alphabetical list of defined terms in a specialised field, such as medicine (medical dictionary).
The simplest dictionary, a defining dictionary, provides a core glossary of the simplest meanings of the simplest concepts. From these, other concepts can be explained and defined, in particular for those who are first learning a language. In English, the commercial defining dictionaries typically include only one or two meanings of under 2000 words. With these, the rest of English, and even the 4000 most common English idioms and metaphors, can be defined.
Lexicographers apply two basic philosophies to the defining of words: descriptive or prescriptive. Noah Webster, intent on forging a distinct identity for the American language, altered spellings and accentuated differences in meaning and pronunciation of some words. This is why American English now uses the spelling color while the rest of the English-speaking world prefers colour. (Similarly, British English subsequently underwent a few spelling changes that did not affect American English; see further at American and British English spelling differences.)
Large 20th-century dictionaries such as the Oxford English Dictionary (OED) and Webster's Third are descriptive, and attempt to describe the actual use of words. Most dictionaries of English now apply the descriptive method to a word's definition, and then, outside of the definition itself, add information alerting readers to attitudes which may influence their choices on words often considered vulgar, offensive, erroneous, or easily confused. Merriam-Webster is subtle, only adding italicized notations such as, sometimes offensive or nonstand (nonstandard.) American Heritage goes further, discussing issues separately in numerous "usage notes." Encarta provides similar notes, but is more prescriptive, offering warnings and admonitions against the use of certain words considered by many to be offensive or illiterate, such as, "an offensive term for..." or "a taboo term meaning..."
Because of the widespread use of dictionaries in schools, and their acceptance by many as language authorities, their treatment of the language does affect usage to some degree, with even the most descriptive dictionaries providing conservative continuity. In the long run, however, the meanings of words in English are primarily determined by usage, and the language is being changed and created every day. As Jorge Luis Borges says in the prologue to "El otro, el mismo": "It is often forgotten that (dictionaries) are artificial repositories, put together well after the languages they define. The roots of language are irrational and of a magical nature."
In contrast to traditional dictionaries, which are designed to be used by human beings, dictionaries for natural language processing (NLP) are built to be used by computer programs. (The final user is a human being but the direct user is a program.) Such a dictionary does not need to be able to be printed on paper. The structure of the content is not linear, ordered entry by entry but has the form of a complex graph.] [ Because most of these dictionaries are used to control machine translations or cross-lingual information retrieval (CLIR) the content is usually multilingual and usually of huge size. In order to allow formalized exchange and merging of dictionaries, an ISO standard called Lexical Markup Framework (LMF) has been defined and used among the industrial and academic community.
Dictionaries for languages for which the pronunciation of words is not apparent from their spelling, such as the English language, usually provide the pronunciation, often using the International Phonetic Alphabet. For example, the definition for the word dictionary might be followed by the phonemic spelling . American dictionaries, however, often use their own pronunciation spelling systems, for example dictionary , while the IPA is more commonly used within the British Commonwealth countries. Yet others use a respelling system; for example, dictionary may respelled . Some on-line or electronic dictionaries provide recordings of words being spoken.
Histories and descriptions of the dictionaries of other languages include:
The age of the Internet brought online dictionaries to the desktop and, more recently, to the smart phone. Skinner in 2013 noted that, "Among the top ten lookups on Merriam-Webster Online at this moment are holistic, pragmatic, caveat, esoteric and bourgeois. Teaching users about words they don’t already know has been, historically, an aim of lexicography, and modern dictionaries do this well."
There exist a number of websites which operate as online dictionaries, usually with a specialized focus. Some of them have exclusively user driven content, often consisting of neologisms. Some of the more notable examples include:
A specialized dictionary is a dictionary that covers a relatively restricted set of phenomena. The definitive book on the subject (Cowie 2009) includes chapters on (among others) dictionaries of:
Dictionaries of idioms and slang are common in most cultures. Examples include (for French) the Dictionnaire des expressions et locutions, edited by Alain Rey (Paris: Le Robert 2006), and (for English) Eric Partridge's Dictionary of Slang and Unconventional English (8th edition, London: Routledge 2002). In the area of language learning, there are specialized dictionaries for aspects of language which tend to be unproblematic for mother-tongue speakers but may cause difficulty for learners. These include dictionaries of phrasal verbs, such as the Oxford Phrasal Verbs Dictionary (2nd edition, Oxford University Press: 2006), and dictionaries of collocation, such as Macmillan Collocations Dictionary (Oxford: Macmillan 2010).
One of the most common types of specialized dictionary is what is often referred to in English as a technical dictionary and in German as a Fachwörterbuch. These dictionaries cover the terminology of a particular subject field or discipline. As described in Nielsen (1994), dictionaries of this type can be classified in various ways. A dictionary that covers more than one subject field is called a multi-field dictionary; one that covers one subject field is called a single-field dictionary; and one that covers a limited part of a subject field is called a sub-field dictionary. A technical dictionary that attempts to cover as much of the relevant terminology as possible is called a maximizing dictionary, whereas one that attempts to cover only a limited part of the relevant terminology is called a minimizing dictionary.
Specialized dictionaries can have various functions, i.e. they can help users in different types of situation. Monolingual dictionaries can help users understand and produce texts, whereas bilingual dictionaries can help users understand texts, translate texts and produce texts, as described in e.g. Nielsen (1994) and Nielsen (2010).
Mary French, Director
Barbara Massey, President
The Dictionary Project is a non-profit charitable organization based in Charleston, South Carolina, U.S.A., and was founded by Mary French in 1995 to provide personal copies of a dictionary for third grade students in the South Carolina public school system. It has grown into a national organization. To date, over 19 million dictionaries have been donated to children in the United States and internationally. It is funded through individual donations and by sponsors who implement the program in their local schools. All contributions are tax deductible. The Dictionary Project is registered as a 501(c)(3) nonprofit association in all 50 United States.
The purpose of The Dictionary Project is to provide dictionaries to students to keep to use as their own personal reference books. The project believes that a dictionary is an essential tool for a quality education and that a student cannot do his or her best work without one. A dictionary in the home serves as a resource for the whole family. It improves everyone’s vocabulary and it encourages children to learn more words. This organization seeks to provide dictionaries to all of the children who are in school. The program is typically implemented in the third grade each year.
The idea for The Dictionary Project began in 1992 when Annie Plummer of Savannah, Georgia gave 50 dictionaries to children who attended a school close to her home. In her lifetime she raised the money to buy 17,000 dictionaries for children in Savannah, Georgia. Annie Plummer died December 23, 1999, but her dream did not die with her. She inspired the creation of The Dictionary Project, a nonprofit organization.
The Dictionary Project was created in 1995 as a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization based in Charleston, South Carolina. Its original goal was to provide dictionaries to third graders in the public schools in the three counties surrounding Charleston, and this was accomplished in the 1995-96 school year and every year since. In 2001 the project was expanded to cover the third graders in all of South Carolina’s public schools.
The project grew tremendously after it was featured in an article on the front page of The Wall Street Journal on March 4, 2002 This coverage brought national attention to the project and its founders, Mary and Arno French. As a result, individuals and groups from across the United States became involved with The Dictionary Project and sponsored the donation of dictionaries to children in their local schools.
The project continues to expand and now includes sponsors in all fifty United States, Puerto Rico, the US Virgin Islands, Canada, and several other countries. The program has been adopted by civic organizations and adapted to local communities through the sponsorship of Rotary Clubs, BPO Elks, Kiwanis Clubs, Granges, Pioneer Volunteer groups, Lions Clubs, the Republican Federation of Women and other service organizations, by educational groups such as PTAs, by businesses, and by individuals. Anyone can participate in this project by sponsoring a program to give dictionaries to children in their community.
Anyone can sponsor a project. Organizations and donors carry out their own fund-raising activities, and then sponsor the donation of books in the schools or area they choose. The project asks its sponsors to commit time to deliver the dictionaries to the children in person and make a short presentation that shows them how to use the dictionaries. This brief visit lets the children know that there are people in their community who are interested in their education and want to see them succeed.
The Dictionary Project and its Director Mary French have been awarded several notable honors, including:
In addition, sponsors who have implemented the project have been recognized:
The Dictionary Project has been featured by ABC News, The Wall Street Journal, American Profile, KOTV News, and The State (newspaper).
In recent years, The Dictionary Project has been receiving interest from international organizations wishing to expand the program overseas, as well as from US-based organizations who want to contribute to improving the education of school children in foreign and developing countries through the use of the English language. They hope to distribute more dictionaries to children outside of the United States in the coming years.
The Dictionary Project is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization registered in all 50 states. IRS Form 990 and state registration information are available to the public and can be obtained upon request by writing to Post Office Box 1845, Charleston, SC 29402.
Watkins's Biographical Dictionary, also called The Universal Biographical Dictionary, was originally published in 1800, with a second edition in 1825, as An Historical Account of the lives, characters and works of the most eminent persons in every age and nation, from the earliest times to the present. It was compiled by John Watkins, LL.D., and published by Longman, Rees Orme, Brown and Green.
The dictionary is notable for its entry on the philosopher David Hume, which notes that "he published [the Treatise] in London in 1738, but its reception not answering his expectations, he printed a small analysis of it, in a sixpenny pamphlet, to make it sell'. Because the pamphlet (An Abstract of the Treatise of Human Nature) was published anonymously, it is not known how the author of the article came by this information. Norman Kemp Smith has speculated that the firm of Longman's, who published both Watkin's dictionary, and volume III of the A Treatise of Human Nature, was the channel through which the tradition of Hume's authorship of the Abstract was preserved.
Illinois is in the midwestern United States. Surrounding states are Wisconsin to the north, Iowa and Missouri to the west, Kentucky to the south, and Indiana to the east. Illinois also borders Michigan, but only via a northeastern water boundary in Lake Michigan. Nearly the entire western boundary is the Mississippi River, except for a few areas where the river has changed course. Illinois' southeastern and southern boundary is along the Wabash River and the Ohio River. Whereas, its northern boundary and much of its eastern boundary are straight survey (longitudinal and latitudinal) lines.
Illinois has three major geographical divisions: Northern, Central, and Southern. Collectively, central and southern Illinois are often referred to within Illinois as "downstate Illinois" but with political developments since World War II "Downstate" generally refers to all of Illinois outside of the Chicago metro area. Television
The Chicago metropolitan area, or Chicagoland, is the metropolitan area associated with the city of Chicago, Illinois, and its suburbs. It is the area that is closely linked to the city through social, economic, and cultural ties.
There are several definitions of the area, including the area defined by the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) as the Chicago-Joliet-Naperville, IL-IN-WI Metropolitan Statistical Area (MSA), and the area under the jurisdiction of the Chicago Metropolitan Agency for Planning (CMAP) (a metropolitan planning organization). The population of the Chicago CSA (Combined Statistical Area) is over 9.8 million people.
In journalism, a human interest story is a feature story that discusses a person or people in an emotional way. It presents people and their problems, concerns, or achievements in a way that brings about interest, sympathy or motivation in the reader or viewer.
Human interest stories may be "the story behind the story" about an event, organization, or otherwise faceless historical happening, such as about the life of an individual soldier during wartime, an interview with a survivor of a natural disaster, a random act of kindness or profile of someone known for a career achievement.