Cyclopaedia of WORDS

It full of words and meanings and definitions. But, it is a veritable fount of information. Here’s to the Webster’s Dictionary which celebrates 190 years of existence.

March 31, 2018 03:23 pm | Updated 03:23 pm IST

Do join us for the conviviality this April 14.” Does it make sense to you?

Well, then, take out the Webster’s Dictionary and look for this word. It will read “merriment or celebrations”. April 14, 2018, will mark the 190th anniversary of the Webster’s Dictionary.

Noah Webster was an American lexicographer, textbook pioneer, English-language spelling reformer. He brought out this blue-backed speller books which benefited many. The very first one was published in 1828 as An American Dictionary of the English Language .

The beginnings

Webster was born in Hartford in 1758 and he went on to graduate from Yale. He worked as a lawyer. His most noteworthy work, however, came as a school teacher. As he was unhappy with the curriculum he decided to create his own three part curriculum —a three-part Grammatical Institute of the English Language . It included a spelling book, a grammar book, and a reader. Together, they were also called the Blue-Backed Speller .

It became so popular that it went through 300 editions and sold more than 60 million copies. And this is what led to the publishing of his dictionary in 1828.

Popularly known as the Father of the American dictionary, Webster began his work on the project when he was 43. It took him more than 25 years to complete the first edition. He made an impact on American Language as he changed many of the spellings and pronunciations of English words. The dictionary contained more than 70,000 words and changes which included re to er and ou to r.

After Webster’s death in 1843, the rights to his dictionary was purchased by Charles and George Merriam.

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