Academic journal article et Cetera

Defining the World: The Extraordinary Story of Dr. Johnson's Dictionary

Academic journal article et Cetera

Defining the World: The Extraordinary Story of Dr. Johnson's Dictionary

Article excerpt

Henry Hitchings. Defining the World: The Extraordinary Story of Dr. Johnson's Dictionary. New York: Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2005.

Samuel Johnson is said to be the second-most quoted person in English after Shakespeare. Some of those quotes come from his 1755 Dictionary of the English Language, a volume comprising 42,773 entries.

Johnson's dictionary was intended to be the English equivalent of volumes produced decades earlier by Italian and French academies. A group of publishers contacted him to produce it in three years. When reminded that it had take 40 French academies 40 years to produce theirs, Johnson replied, "Forty times forty is sixteen hundred. As three to sixteen hundred, so is the proportion of an Englishman to a Frenchman." (The dictionary took Johnson nine years to complete. The quality of definitions, the numerous senses of a term, and the quotations to illustrate usage made it the standard English dictionary for a century and the basis for those that followed.)

Some of Johnson's dictionary definitions blatantly revealed his own prejudices. …

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.