DescriptionSamuel Johnson. A Dictionary of the English Language... London: W. Strahan [and 24 others], 1778. Sixth edition, corrected.
Samuel Johnson. A Dictionary of the English Language. In Which The Words are deduced from their Originals, Explained in their Different Meanings, and Authorized by the Names of the Writers in whose Works they are found. Abstracted from the Folio Edition, by the Author Samuel Johnson, A.M. To which is prefixed, A Grammar of the English Language. London: Printed for W. Strahan [and 24 others], 1778. Sixth edition, corrected. Two octavo volumes (8.125 x 5.125 inches; 206 x 130 mm). Contemporary full speckled calf rebacked to style, spines with volume numbers stamped in gilt in compartments, six raised bands, edges with remnants of gilt. Occasional light foxing. Overall a very good copy.
Widely regarded as one of the most important and influential books ever produced, it took Dr. Johnson nine years to finish the project, which when completed comprised 42,773 words and was unsurpassed as the definitive dictionary of the English language until the completion of the Oxford English Dictionary (i.e., the OED), in 1928. In addition to the Dictionary's meticulousness and comprehensiveness, the use of illustrative literary quotations is probably the most well-known and important of Johnson's innovations. On the other hand, his often humorous, sometimes prejudicial editorializing in the definitions of certain words is perhaps the work's most well-loved idiosyncrasies. Of these examples, Johnson's definition of his own occupation is the most famous -- "Lexicographer: a writer of dictionaries; a harmless drudge that busies himself in tracing the original and detailing the signification of words," a somewhat deprecatory and diminished description of the man that the Oxford Dictionary of National Biography calls "arguably the most distinguished man of letters in English history." ESTC T83960.
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