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Feb 14 · 2 min read

In 1806, American Noah Webster distributed his first word reference, A Compendious Dictionary of the English Language. In 1807 Webster started gathering an extended and completely far reaching word reference, An American Dictionary of the English Language; it took twenty-seven years to finish. To assess the historical background of words, Webster learned twenty-six dialects, including Old English (Anglo-Saxon), German, Greek, Latin, Italian, Spanish, French, Hebrew, Arabic, and Sanskrit.

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Webster finished his lexicon during his year abroad in 1825 in Paris, France, and at the University of Cambridge. His book contained seventy thousand words, of which twelve thousand had never showed up in a distributed lexicon. As a spelling reformer, Webster accepted that English spelling rules were pointlessly unpredictable, so his lexicon presented American English spellings, supplanting “shading” with “shading”, subbing “wagon” for “wagon”, and printing “focus” rather than “focus”. He additionally included American words, similar to “skunk” and “squash,” which didn’t show up in British lexicons.

At seventy years old, Webster distributed his word reference in 1828; it sold 2500 duplicates. In 1840, the subsequent release was distributed in two volumes. Webster’s word reference was gained by G and C Merriam Co. in 1843, after his passing, and has since been distributed in many modified versions. Merriam-Webster was obtained by Encyclopedia Britannica in 1964.

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