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Samuel Johnson's Dictionary: Defining the English Language



Jack Lynch, professor of English at Rutgers University, discusses Samuel Johnson's Dictionary.

Two volumes thick and 2,300 pages long, Samuel Johnson's Dictionary of the English Language, published in 1755, marked a milestone in a language in desperate need of standards. No English dictionary before it had devoted so much space to everyday words and been so thorough in its definitions. Johnson's was the dictionary used by Jane Austen and Charles Dickens, Wordsworth and Coleridge, the Brontes and the Brownings, Thomas Hardy and Oscar Wilde.

This new edition, created by Levenger Press, contains more than 3,100 selections from the original, including definitions and illustrative passages in their original spelling. Bristling with quotations, the dictionary offers memorable passages on subjects ranging from books and critics to dreams and ethics. It also features three new indexes created from entries in this edition.
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