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The Whole World in a BookDictionaries in the Nineteenth Century$
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Sarah Ogilvie and Gabriella Safran

Print publication date: 2020

Print ISBN-13: 9780190913199

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: December 2019

DOI: 10.1093/oso/9780190913199.001.0001

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PRINTED FROM OXFORD SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (oxford.universitypressscholarship.com). (c) Copyright Oxford University Press, 2021. All Rights Reserved. An individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in OSO for personal use. date: 16 January 2022

The Invention of the Modern Dictionary

The Invention of the Modern Dictionary

Webster’s Unabridged of 1864

(p.168) 10 The Invention of the Modern Dictionary
The Whole World in a Book

Peter Sokolowski

Oxford University Press

Sokolowski details the revision process that shaped the development of Webster’s American Dictionary of the English Language (1828), the foundation of a nearly uninterrupted chain of dictionaries over almost two centuries. He discusses the role of collaboration, lexicographical scholarship, and the commercial considerations involved in the various updates to the dictionary, as well as the ‘War of the Dictionaries’, which forced Webster’s (under the purview of the Merriams) to evolve in order to conquer the market. The revisions following Webster’s death—and the innovations that accompanied them, which include many of the elements that distinguish today’s dictionaries from their pre-1864 forebears—have kept the name of Noah Webster associated with dictionaries to this day, while subverting the very notion of individual authorship for such a significant work of intellectual labour.

Keywords:   Noah Webster, Merriam, collaboration, market, War of the Dictionaries

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