Friday, October 16, 2009

This Day in History: A Defining Moment for Dictionaries

Today marks the celebration of both Dictionary Day and the birthday of the dictionary's famous creator, Noah Webster (born in 1758). Known as the "Father of American Scholarship and Education," Webster played a crucial role in disseminating a love of words to the public. The first edition of Webster's American Dictionary of the English Language was published in 1828.

For more information about Noah Webster, check out this Library book:

Noah Webster
by John Smith Morgan
PE 64 .W5 M67 Stacks

Both of the NCC Libraries contain this edition of Webster's dictionary:

The New International Webster's Comprehensive Dictionary of the English Language
PE 1625 .N53 1998 Reference (main and Monroe)

For interesting anecdotes about the creation of the massive Oxford English Dictionary, try these fascinating books:

The Professor and the Madman: A Tale of Murder, Insanity, and the Making of the Oxford English Dictionary
by Simon Winchester
PE 1617 .O94 W56 1999 Stacks

The Meaning of Everything: The Story of the Oxford English Dictionary
by Simon Winchester
PE 1617 .O94 W558 2003 Stacks
(This title is also available in audiobook format!)

The NCC Libraries have a multitude of other dictionaries, in English and other languages. Our database Oxford Language Dictionaries Online contains bilingual dictionaries in Chinese, Italian, German and many other languages, each providing translations to English. There are also numerous specialized dictionaries in our collection, including titles related to business, law, medicine, psychology, history, art and many other subjects.

If you need to find word definitions quickly, try one of these online dictionaries:

dictionary.com (contains the American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language)
OneLook Dictionary Search
Merriam-Webster Online
Medline Plus Medical Dictionary

And -- just for fun -- here's a slang dictionary:

Image courtesy of:
"Noah Webster and America's First Dictionary." Online illustration. Merriam-Webster Online. Online. 15 Oct. 2009 http://www.merriam-webster.com/info/noah.htm

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