To come up with a response for this morning’s prompt, ANNIVERSARY, I decided to check out what important events have happened on this day in history. And VOILA! Today is the 265th anniversary of Dr Samuel Johnson’s English Language Dictionary.
There were other smaller dictionaries around, mainly dealing with difficult and obscure and foreign words, so Dr Johnson was commissioned to compile the first comprehensive dictionary of the English language. It took him seven long years to gather and define every word in the language, with all its many angles — and the final book cost more to print than he was paid to write it!
Things haven’t changed much, have they, Writers? No “paid by the hour” in this job. 😉
Dr. Johnson illustrated many definitions with about 114,000 quotes from literature of his day, quoting from the Bible and writers like Shakespeare. He added a generous touch of humor to his definitions, too. For example, his definition of LEXICOGRAPHER:
A writer of dictionaries; a harmless drudge that busies himself in tracing the original and detailing the signification of words
One who countenances, supports, or protects. Commonly a wretch who supports with insolence, and is paid with flattery. (Can you guess he didn’t have the best relationship with his own patron, the 4th Earl of Chesterfield?)
It’s amazing how one man, single-handedly, has contributed so much to the English world of his day, and the benefits have rippled down through history. So, word lovers around the world, let’s party! Have you hugged a WORD today?
The helpful site, ON THIS DAY also informed me that:
Leonardo da Vinci was born today. (1452)
US President Abraham Lincoln was assassinated. (1865)
The Titanic sank. (1912)