#EngKnowledge: History of English dictionary

Fellas! English dictionary is an essential tool to learn the language. Ever wondered how it came to be? Today we are going to get to know about the history of English dictionary!

The oldest known dictionary is the Akkadian Empire cuneiform tablet (2300 BC) containing Akkadian-Sumerian word list. The first ever dictionary in English was a glossary of Latin, French, and Italian words.

The word ‘dictionary’ was invented by an Englishman named John of Garland in 1220. One of the earliest English dictionaries was “Elementarie” by Richard Mulcaster (1582). It contained 8000 words and is arranged in non-alphabetical setting. Afterwards, there were many attempts to create a systematic English dictionary.

They keep on failing to do that until writer/poet Samuel Johnson stepped in. The challenge at that time was to standardize the English language by create a standard spelling through dictionary.

In 1755, Johnson published “The Dictionary of English Language”. It contained 43,500 words with 118,000 quotations. Though it was not the first English dictionary, Johnson’s work helped to stabilise the language.

In the United States, dictionaries were first imported from England. The first dictionary to contain words unique to American English was published in 1800. Despite the critics, Webster (1758-1843) determined to set standards for American English. He believed that spelling, grammar, and usage should be based on living language. “An American Language of the English Language” was then published in 1828. It simplified words such as ‘colour’ to ‘color’.

As for the most important English dictionary of them all, Oxford English Dictionary, was published in 1933. It is the historical dictionary of the English-speaking world.

In 2008, a man named Ammon Shea wrote about his experience trying to read Oxford dictionary for fun.

Have you ever tried to read dictionaries for fun, fellas? :D

Compiled and written by @animenur for @EnglishTips4U on Sunday, 14 June 2015.



16 thoughts on “#EngKnowledge: History of English dictionary”

  1. Dear Administrator,

    i cant open ur link, and said ” This domain name has already expired. Please contact your domain name”s service provider for renewal directly, or sponsoring regisrar if needed. ” could u help me??


    Regards, *Kiki Marlia*

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s