Talk:A Dictionary of the English Language

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I will propose an amendment to this article soon, but in brief, it is too simplistic to describe Johnson as writing the dictionary 'single-handedly' ('Remarkably, he did so single-handedly, with only clerical assistance to copy out the illustrative quotations that he had marked in books. Johnson produced several revised editions during his life.') See Robert Demaria, Jr and Gwin J Kolb, 'Johnson's Dictionary and Dictionary Johnson', The Yearbook of English Studies 28 (1998), pp. 19-43. —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 09:20, 25 November 2009 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Math error?[edit]

6,000 copies is not 20 copies a year for 30 years - that would only be 600.

Public domain source?[edit]

Is there a PD version of this dictionary? -- Toytoy 19:04, Feb 10, 2005 (UTC)

Black Adder[edit]

I think if would be appropriate to mention that the writing of the dictionary was satirized in Rowan Atkinson's Black Adder series for the BBC, where the manuscript was almost burned.


In The Johnson Dictionary Project, I searched for 'olde' (which Wikipedia gives as an example of Johnson's conservative spelling) and found nothing, but when I searched for 'old' I found many entries. Shouldn't we provide an example that's actually in the dictionary? --Berserk798 02:03, 15 April 2006 (UTC)Reply[reply]

4th edition publication date?[edit]

I thought it was 1773 not 1783?


"To break wind behind."

"As when we a gun discharge, Although the bore be ni'er so large."

"Before the flame from muzzle bust. Just as the breech it flashes first; So from my lord his passion broke, He farted first, and then he spoke."

from Swift (I think) and quoted by Johnson - please check!Osborne 08:35, 27 June 2007 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Johnson vs. Lord Chesterfield[edit]

No mention of Johnson's humble application to Lord Chesterfield (for patronage, for the monumental effort to produce the dictionary), his rebuff, and his famous letter of rebuke to Chesterfield when the lord praised the dictionary in a review after it's completion and publication (without patronage and under considerable hardship)!? —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 14:32, 15 April 2008 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Fixed. Ottava Rima (talk) 00:07, 29 June 2008 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Benjamin Martin[edit]

Benjamin Martin's Lingua Britannica Reformata (1749) —Preceding unsigned comment added by BethEllen (talkcontribs) 22:47, 24 April 2008 (UTC) The link to Benjamin Martin is to Benjamin F. Martin, born in 1877, —Preceding unsigned comment added by BethEllen (talkcontribs) 22:39, 24 April 2008 (UTC)Reply[reply]


Just to make sure this isn't lost: [1] SandyGeorgia (Talk) 03:26, 6 September 2008 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Another one: [2] SandyGeorgia (Talk) 03:28, 6 September 2008 (UTC)Reply[reply]

America/United States[edit]

Someone changed my "America" (I was following my ref) to "United States" in the Reception History section. I've just realised that at the time the United States of America didn't yet exist. Hmm. almost-instinct 17:14, 19 January 2009 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Johnson had magical powers and could see the future. It's perfectly logical. :) Ottava Rima (talk) 18:07, 19 January 2009 (UTC)Reply[reply]
I think changing back to America is in order ... ? almost-instinct 20:40, 19 January 2009 (UTC)Reply[reply]
Fixing the whole page is in order, but yes, that's a good start. :) Ottava Rima (talk) 00:20, 20 January 2009 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Triva is trivia, how hard is that to understand?[edit]

I've moved this to here because ... well, words fail me really. --Malleus Fatuorum 00:45, 23 February 2009 (UTC)Reply[reply]

In popular culture[edit]

The dictionary features prominently in the "Ink and Incapability" episode of British TV comedy show Blackadder the Third. Among other references, the episode contains a joke about the dictionary not including the word sausage. In fact, the word does appear in the 1755 first edition of Johnson's Dictionary. The mistaken notion that sausage is not in the dictionary is probably due to the fact that Johnson treated U and V as the same letter when ordering words alphabetically. Thus the entry for sausage follows that for savoy.

And its an outrageous breach of WP:OR ;-) almost-instinct 10:00, 23 February 2009 (UTC)Reply[reply]
Someone breached me? :) Ottava Rima (talk) 16:50, 23 February 2009 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Removing the entire section was a little drastic (see WP:IPC). I've restored it with the speculative parts removed.--Adzz (talk) 19:43, 2 March 2009 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Image copyright problem with File:50PENCE05.jpg[edit]

The image File:50PENCE05.jpg is used in this article under a claim of fair use, but it does not have an adequate explanation for why it meets the requirements for such images when used here. In particular, for each page the image is used on, it must have an explanation linking to that page which explains why it needs to be used on that page. Please check

  • That there is a non-free use rationale on the image's description page for the use in this article.
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This is an automated notice by FairuseBot. For assistance on the image use policy, see Wikipedia:Media copyright questions. --09:15, 2 March 2009 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Number of Definitions for "Take"[edit]

The article quotes Henry Hitching's book, which says that "take" has 134 definitions; the first edition of the dictionary, however, has 113 definitions (transcribed from the copies held at Harvard and the British Library - The bit from Hitchings makes it seem as if he is referring to the first edition ("His definition of 'to put' runs to more than three pages in the first edition, and comprises over 5,500 words. The entry for 'to take' occupies five pages and amounts to 8,000 words, with Johnson discriminating 134 different senses of the verb."). Perhaps this should be updated, with a more accurate source and with 113 as the number of definitions? —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 21:13, 13 January 2011 (UTC)Reply[reply]

The recent flurry of flags[edit]

As far as I can tell the original author of this article used the Hitchings book as one of the main sources. I have this book. Everything flagged is in there. Now, I'll go and look up all the damn page numbers if someone's going to subsquently sort out the rest of the page. Otherwise I'm not sure I can be bothered ;-) almost-instinct 22:11, 15 April 2009 (UTC)Reply[reply]

You have myself and my library of over 50 books dealing with Johnson if you find a section you need citations for. Ottava Rima (talk) 05:30, 16 April 2009 (UTC)Reply[reply]
Excellent, I can leave all the work to you! :-) almost-instinct 08:21, 16 April 2009 (UTC)Reply[reply]
Ha! Just point and I'll find the info. Ottava Rima (talk) 16:22, 16 April 2009 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Well, one thing .... when I did the "Reception history" section - all from a single source - I deliberately presented it all in big chunky quotations. If you could find some alternative voices on this topic that would be good. If you were similarly to cut and paste in quotes from other sources, I would quite contentedly put in the spadework blending the sources and massaging it all into some nice prose. almost-instinct 16:43, 16 April 2009 (UTC)Reply[reply]

The Text[edit]

Why in the section headed as "The Text", is Johnson's dictionary described as perscriptivist? Is is because Johnson didn't do as Noah Webster did in simplifying word spellings, and so forth? Samuel Johnson's dictionary was descriptivsit, actually. He was trying to describe English as it existed in the mid-eighteenth century. Johnson said in the Preface that a lexicographer's job is to "not form, but register the language." His dictionary only contains a few instances of ascribing appropriate use of language as Johnson personally decided. The editor, Jack Lynch, of an abridged version of the dictionary by Levenger Press titled "Samuel Johnson's Dictionary", is quoted as saying "But these episodes are the exception, not the rule, and he was usually adamant that usage should be determined by consensus, not by fiat." That quote begins the last paragraph, on page eight, of the "Plan and Preface" section of Jack Lynch's "Introduction to this Edition". - Signed a Frequent Wikipedia User without an Account (I've got enough passwords, logins, and emails to remember and keep track of already.)

Inflation source challenge[edit]

When translating Johnson's fee and also the Dictionary's cover price into today's cash equivalent, probably the more trustworthy source would be the Bank of England's Inflation Calculator rather than the vagaries of the Retail Price Index as in the current published article (where the results are dated 2018 and in fact refer to 2017 values, as in the source title). The BoE would convert Johnson's fee of £1,575 in 1746 to the larger and more impressive sum of £329,267 in 2017, and its 1755 retail cover price of £4 10s into £968. Boswell1740 (talk) 09:20, 20 July 2018 (UTC)Reply[reply]