Who invented the dictionary?

Category: History

Dictionaries have been around since 2300 BC and the oldest dictionaries were discovered in Syria. Over the years Chinese, European, Arabic and English dictionaries were also written. Robert Cawdrey, an English school teacher published the first English alphabetical dictionary. However it was Samuel Johnson who compiled the first widely recognized and reliable dictionary in English in 1755. Samuel Johnson was a popular British author and published ‘A Dictionary of English Language’ which took him nine years to complete.

This dictionary was used for over 150 years until a new Oxford English dictionary was written and released by the Oxford University Press in 1884. The Oxford English dictionary took almost 50 years to complete and was later released in twelve volumes in 1928. The dictionary consists of words arranged in alphabetical order unlike the earlier forms in which certain topic would be grouped together for example animals, birds and others.

In 1806, Noah Webster also published his first dictionary. Over the years he released more comprehensive dictionaries and they included seventy thousand words out of which twelve thousand words were compiled for the first time.

Today specialized dictionaries are available that focus on a particular subject. Glossaries also known as defining dictionaries, are a variant of the traditional dictionary in which terms and concepts are defined. Dictionaries also provide the correct pronunciation and the variant spellings of the words along with the meaning. Electronic versions of dictionaries are also available today.

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