Samuel Johnson


----------  dictionaries like poetry beg to be written and rewritten /yet there are boneheads who will never believe that.

'In 1746, a group of publishers approached Johnson about creating an authoritative dictionary of the English language;[69] a contract with William Strahan and associates, worth 1,500 guineas, was signed on the morning of 18 June 1746.[77] '

  In the following statement Johnson's genius weighs in

'Johnson claimed that he could finish the project in three years. In comparison, the Académie Française had forty scholars spending forty years to complete its dictionary, which prompted Johnson to claim, "This is the proportion. Let me see; forty times forty is sixteen hundred. As three to sixteen hundred, so is the proportion of an Englishman to a Frenchman".[69]
 A stronger language for a stronger man, Johnson and the English tongue .

 'Although he did not succeed in completing the work in three years, he did manage to finish it in nine, justifying his boast.[69] According to Bate, the Dictionary "easily ranks as one of the greatest single achievements of scholarship, and probably the greatest ever performed by one individual who labored under anything like the disadvantages in a comparable length of time".[3] 

Johnson's dictionary was not the first, nor was it unique. It was, however, the most commonly used and imitated for the 150 years between its first publication and the completion of the Oxford English Dictionary in 1928. Other dictionaries, such as Nathan Bailey's Dictionarium Britannicum, included more words,[4] and in the 150 years preceding Johnson's dictionary about twenty other general-purpose monolingual "English" dictionaries had been produced.[79] However, there was open dissatisfaction with the dictionaries of the period.

 In 1741, David Hume claimed: "The Elegance and Propriety of Stile have been very much neglected among us. We have no Dictionary of our Language, and scarce a tolerable Grammar".[80] 
 David Hume had his moments. This was one of 'em.

'Johnson'sDictionary offers insights into the 18th century and "a faithful record of the language people used".[4] It is more than a reference book; it is a work of literature.[79]

 The Dictionary was finally published in April 1755, with the title page acknowledging that Oxford had awarded Johnson a Master of Arts degree in anticipation of the work.[88] The published dictionary was a huge book. Its pages were nearly 18 inches (46 cm) tall, and the book was 20 inches (51 cm) wide when opened; it contained 42,773 entries, to which only a few more were added in subsequent editions, and sold for the extravagant price of £4 10s, perhaps the rough equivalent of £350 today.[89] An important innovation in English lexicography was to illustrate the meanings of his words by literary quotation, of which there are around 114,000. The authors most frequently cited include ShakespeareMilton and Dryden.[90] It was years before "Johnson's Dictionary", as it came to be known, turned a profit. Author's royalties were unknown at that time, and Johnson, once his contract to deliver the book was fulfilled, received no further money from its sale. Years later, many of its quotations would be repeated by various editions of the Webster's Dictionary and the New English Dictionary.[91]


  More  about Johnson's dictionary and related matters at Winkipedia the internet dictionary/cyclopedia