I personally think a dictionary is a very useful tool and was curious to know who was the first to take the time to create one. I also wondered if any other cultures had and used a similar idea. As it turns out, dictionaries go WAY back to ancient times in one form or another!
The modern English dictionary was invented by Samuel Johnson and published in 1755.
This is a documentary about Samuel Johnson: The Dictionary Man
If you would rather read a little about him:
Noah Webster wrote the first American dictionary in 1806. This video:
Noah Webster: Biography, Education, Facts, History, Dictionary, Quotes has information about him.
If you would rather read about Webster:
Information about various cultures who had and used dictionaries can be found here:
Wikipedia: Dictionary – Offers a history of cultural dictionaries from ancient to modern times.
Also: Oxford English Dictionary, Chinese Dictionary, Japanese Dictionary, and others such as specialized dictionaries.
Here’s some information about the The first dictionaries of English, you’ll need a membership to access all the information, but it’s a good jumping off point if you want to study more about the topics included in the article on your own.
Other Things of Interest
Read an interview with a lexicographer Erin McKean:
YouTube Dictionary Playlist – These videos and others can be found in the playlist created for this topic.
🐞 For the Little Ones 🐞
If you have a little one, go to the library and find some picture books and a child’s dictionary and check a few out.
If you have a few of your own on hand already… Find words via the pictures included in the publication and read or talk about their meanings. Act out pictures and have fun with them. Make up a sentence using the actions you created while reading though the books together.
Related Post: Dictionaries – Access all the days in one place!
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