Top 10 facts about dictionaries


Johnson’s dictionary was not the first such work but was the first to try to include all English words with definitions and examples.

It was the leading dictionary until the Oxford English Dictionary (OED) appeared 173 years later.

Robert Cawdrey’s Table Alphabeticall of 1604, which is often seen as the first English dictionary, had no words beginning with J, K, U, W, X or Y...

...but J and I were seen as the same letter at that time, as were U and V, so only K, W, X and Y words were really absent.

The OED includes definitions for about 600,000 words.

A major contributor of quotations to the OED was William Chester Minor, a former US Army surgeon who was held in Broadmoor lunatic asylum after killing a man.

"Lexicographer: a writer of dictionaries; a harmless drudge..." (Johnson's Dictionary).

Until recently, the word with most definitions in the OED was 'set' but the current winner is 'run'.

Johnson though his dictionary would take three years to complete. Actually it took nine.

The OED was estimated to take 10 years but it took 70.

  • Johnson’s dictionary was not the first such work but was the first to try to include all English words with definitions and examples.

  • It was the leading dictionary until the Oxford English Dictionary (OED) appeared 173 years later.

  • Robert Cawdrey’s Table Alphabeticall of 1604, which is often seen as the first English dictionary, had no words beginning with J, K, U, W, X or Y...

  • ...but J and I were seen as the same letter at that time, as were U and V, so only K, W, X and Y words were really absent.

  • The OED includes definitions for about 600,000 words.

  • A major contributor of quotations to the OED was William Chester Minor, a former US Army surgeon who was held in Broadmoor lunatic asylum after killing a man.

  • "Lexicographer: a writer of dictionaries; a harmless drudge..." (Johnson's Dictionary).

  • Until recently, the word with most definitions in the OED was 'set' but the current winner is 'run'.

  • Johnson though his dictionary would take three years to complete. Actually it took nine.

  • The OED was estimated to take 10 years but it took 70.


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