Samuel Johnson, A Dictionary of the English Language

Jack Lynch (Rutgers University, Newark)
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Though often called “the first English dictionary”, Samuel Johnson’s Dictionary of the English Language (1755) came after decades of English lexicography. Latin, bilingual, and polyglot dictionaries proliferated in England and Scotland from the Middle Ages through the sixteenth century, and the English language got its first general-purpose monolingual dictionary in 1604, Robert Cawdrey’s Table Alphabetical. Over the next century and a half twenty original English dictionaries appeared in dozens of editions and revisions. Still, through the first half of the eighteenth century, English speakers and writers lamented the lack of a reliable dictionary. Philip Dormer Stanhope, Lord Chesterfield, captured the prevailing opinion by complaining that “our dictionaries at present being…

2780 words

Citation: Lynch, Jack. "A Dictionary of the English Language". The Literary Encyclopedia. First published 02 July 2018 [, accessed 09 December 2023.]

7207 A Dictionary of the English Language 3 Historical context notes are intended to give basic and preliminary information on a topic. In some cases they will be expanded into longer entries as the Literary Encyclopedia evolves.

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