The origins of lexicography began with dictionaries of difficult
words in classical texts. Early Greek language grammarians like
Zenodotus and Aristophanes of Byzantium compiled glossai ("glossaries")
listing unusual Homeric words. Unfortunately, these ancient
dictionaries no longer exist.
Chinese dictionaries are the oldest extant lexicons. The
anonymous (ca. 3rd century BCE) Erya arranged glosses from Chinese
classic texts into 19 semantically arranged chapters. Yang Xiong's
(1st century CE) Fangyan was the world's first dialect dictionary.
Xu Shen's (121 CE) Shuowen Jiezi dictionary of Chinese characters
was organized with an innovative system of 540 radicals (recurring
Roman lexicographers edited dictionaries for Classical Latin
texts. Verrius Flaccus compiled the (ca. 10 CE) De Verborum
Significatu ("On the Meaning of Words"), which listed difficult
terms and quoted usage examples. Although only fragments remain
of Flaccus's original encyclopedic dictionary, De Verborum Significatu
was abridged in the 2nd century by Sextus Pompeius Festus and
in the 8th by Paul the Deacon.
The first dictionary of the Arabic language was the (8th
century) Kitab al-Ayn ("The Book of Sources") compiled by Khalil
The earliest English dictionaries were bilingual glossaries
of Latin and French, for instance, Thomas Elyot's Latin Dictionary
(1538). Lexicographer Sidney I. Landau describes the first monolingual
The history of English lexicography usually consists of a
recital of successive and often successful acts of piracy. Representing
what may be the least inspiring of all seminal works, Robert
Cawdrey's Table Alphabeticall of 1604 is generally accounted
to be the first English dictionary. It incorporated almost 90
percent of the words of Edmund Coote's English Schoole-Master,
a grammar, prayer book, and lexicon with brief definitions published
in 1596. Moreover, about half of Cawdrey's three thousand entries
were taken from a Latin-English dictionary of 1588, Thomas Thomas's
Dictionarium Linguae Latinae et Anglicanae. (1998:35)
Although some believe Samuel Johnson's famous Dictionary
of the English Language (1755) was the first true English dictionary,
it was predated by Thomas Blount's Glossographia (1656), John
Kersey's A New English Dictionary (1702), and Nathan Bailey's
An Universal Etymological English Dictionary (1721).
The lexicographer Noah Webster edited A Compendious Dictionary
of the English Language (1806) and An American Dictionary of
the English Language (1828), published by the G. & C. Merriam
Company. Competing publishers put out other reference works
entitled "Webster's Dictionary", and eventually the term became
a genericized trademark for any English language dictionary.
G. & C. Merriam reincorporated as Merriam-Webster, and continues
to publish dictionaries. Their unabridged Webster's International
Dictionary (2nd ed., 1934) claimed over 600,000 entries, but
that inflated number was for word combinations not headwords;
Webster's Third New International Dictionary, Unabridged (1961)
contained over 450,000 head entries.
For decades, the Oxford English Dictionary had the honor
of being the world's "largest" dictionary; the second edition
(1989) included 291,500 entries on 21,730 pages in 20 volumes.
Currently, three dictionaries claim the title. The Woordenboek
der Nederlandsche Taal ("Dictionary of the Dutch language",
1998) has "half a million words covering 45,000 pages in 40
fat volumes, making it, according to the publicity, 'the biggest
dictionary in the world'". According to the Academic Dictionary
of Lithuanian (2005), "The twenty volumes of the Dictionary
make up about 22,000 pages, comprising half a million headwords
and over 11,000,000 words of text." The online Logos Dictionary
claims to be "the largest dictionary in the world", with some
8 million entries in 232 languages
Freely-accessible Multilingual Dictionary: This freely-accessible
multilingual dictionary, compiled without any form of public
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corrected on line by our network of professional translators.
The dictionary currently has 7.580.560 entries (total for all
The Longman Dictionary: of Contemporary English Online is
an online version of the CD-ROM of the Longman Dictionary of
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One Look Dictionary: Find definitions and translations from
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Macmillan Dictionary: Macmillan is an internationally recognised
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Iit has as its source a corpus, a database containing millions
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integrated into the entries.
Collins Dictionary: The official online dictionary from
Collins with over 1 million entries .
Oxford English Dictionary - OED: Discover the story of English.
More than 600,000 words, over a thousand years (Subscription
18 LANGUAGES MULTILINGUAL DICTIONARY -includes translation
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All About Homonyms -includes definition (English).
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Behind the Name The history and etymology of
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Carnegie Mellon University Pronouncing Dictionary is a machine-readable
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Celtic Dictionary -includes definition (English), illustration.
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AlphaDictionary is a comprehensive index of on-line dictionaries
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ESL Idiom Page: Find a long list of English idioms arranged
Etymologically Speaking: What follows is list of some curious
word origins. Some of the words are English, but some are French
and German words that got into English.
German Spanish Dictionary: dictionary of American English
and Spanish as spoken in Spain. You can either search for a
term arranged alphabetically or download the whole dictionary
(over 25,000 entries).
Hobson Jobson Dictionary of Anglo-Indian terms: WORDS of
Indian origin have been insinuating themselves into English
ever since the end of the reign of Elizabeth and the beginning
of that of King James. Know the Indian words that are into English.
The Latin Word List: This has been copied from the
University of Washington and formatted.
A Latin-English/English-Latin Dictionary Client (Java):
This Java applet was written by Djun M. Kim, of the University
of British Columbia Mathematics Department, based on a Latin
word list compiled by Lynn Nelson at the University of Kansas.
A Latin Word List: This upgrade of the Latin Word List contains
some eight thousand entries, although a significant number are
duplicates to allow the presentation of additional possible
translations and some few are idiosyncratic personal reminders
The Hymns of the Atharvaveda : English translation
of the entire Atharvaveda Veda by Ralph T.H. Griffith [1895-96]
Hymns of the White Yajurveda The translation of the Samhitâ
of the White Yajurveda from Book 1 to Book 20
Hinduism and caste system A comprehensive treatment
of the subject of caste system covering
Message Board: Join our Message Board Forums and share
your knowledge with others. Joining is easy and your privacy
yourDictionary.com : Access 1800 dictionaries in 230 languages.
YourDictionary.com features Merriam-Webster's Collegiateï¿½
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Merriam-Webster : Go to America's foremost publisher of
language-related reference works. The company publishes a diverse
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Collegiateï¿½ Dictionary, Tenth Edition — America's best-selling
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Punjabi Dictionary: An attempt to understand the Gurumukhi
Alphabet. This site requires you to download the punjabi font.
Rogets Thesaurus -includes definition (English), synonym,
antonym. Browse by headword, by category and software downloads.
SAYINGS & EVERYDAY EXPRESSIONS -Find meanings
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A - Z. The wording of the expression you have in mind
may vary from the one found on this site.
Grandiloquent Dictionary: This is the result of an ongoing
project to collect and distribute the most obscure and rare
words in the English language. It also contains a few words
which do not have equivalent words in English. At present, the
dictionary contains approximately 1900 words, though it is constantly
SYMBOLS.com : contains more than 2,500 Western signs, arranged
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The UBIS Dictionary of Change: Notes and thoughts on various
The Foolish Dictionary: An exhausting work of reference
to un-certain English words, their origin, meaning, legitimate
and illegitimate use, confused by A F E W P I C T U R E S By
The American Heritageï¿½ Dictionary of the English Language
Bartleby.com provides the most up-to-date editions of the Columbia
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and classic thesauri and usage guides.
World Wide Words: is Michael Quinion's renowned site that
explores the international English language from a British viewpoint.
There are more than 800 pages available, with more added each
week. He discusses new terms, displays weird words, gets behind
expressions in the news, helps you with tricky points, and answers
Worthless Word For The Day : Herein is a complete list of
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Medicine Plus Dictionary MedlinePlus brings together authoritative
information from NLM, the National Institutes of Health (NIH),
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AskOxford.com Searchable online version of the Compact Oxford
English Dictionary, as well as thesauri, quotations, foreign
language dictionaries, a word of the day, and games.