Merriam-Webster


Merriam-Webster
Merriam-Webster
Merriam-Webster logo.svg
Parent company Encyclopædia Britannica
Founder Noah Webster
Country of origin United States
Publication types Books
Official website m-w.com

Merriam–Webster, which was originally the G. & C. Merriam Company[1] of Springfield, Massachusetts, is an American company that publishes reference books, especially dictionaries that are descendants of Noah Webster’s An American Dictionary of the English Language (1828).

Merriam-Webster Inc. has been a subsidiary of Encyclopædia Britannica, Inc. since 1964.[2]

Contents

Origins

Noah Webster

In 1806, Noah Webster published his first dictionary, A Compendious Dictionary of the English Language. In 1807 Webster began compiling an expanded and fully comprehensive dictionary, An American Dictionary of the English Language; it took 27 years to complete. To evaluate the etymology of words, Webster learned 26 languages, including Old English (Anglo-Saxon), German, Greek, Latin, Italian, Spanish, French, Hebrew, Arabic, and Sanskrit. Webster hoped to standardize American speech, since Americans in different parts of the country used different languages. They also spelled, pronounced, and used English words differently.

Webster completed his dictionary during his year abroad in 1825 in Paris, France, and at the University of Cambridge. His book contained 70,000 words, of which 12,000 had never appeared in a published dictionary before. As a spelling reformer, Webster believed that English spelling rules were unnecessarily complex, so his dictionary introduced American English spellings, replacing "colour" with "color", "waggon" with "wagon", and "centre" with "center". He also added American words, like "skunk" and "squash", that did not appear in British dictionaries. At the age of 70, Webster published his dictionary in 1828; it sold 2,500 copies. In 1840, the second edition was published in two volumes.

Austin (2005) explores the intersection of lexicographical and poetic practices in American literature, and attempts to map out a "lexical poetics" using Webster's dictionaries as a base. He shows the ways in which American poetry has inherited Webster ideas and has drawn upon his lexicography in order to develop the language. Austin explicates key definitions from both the Compendious (1806) and American (1828) dictionaries, and brings into its discourse a range of concerns, including the politics of American English, the question of national identity and culture in the early moments of American independence, and the poetics of citation and of definition. Webster's dictionaries were a redefinition of Americanism within the context of an emergent and unstable American socio-political and cultural identity. Webster's identification of his project as a "federal language" shows his competing impulses towards regularity and innovation in historical terms. Perhaps the contradictions of Webster's project comprised part of a larger dialectical play between liberty and order within Revolutionary and post-Revolutionary political debates.[3]

Merriam as publisher

In 1843, after Noah Webster's death, George and Charles Merriam secured publishing and revision rights to the 1840 edition of the dictionary. They published a revision in 1847, which did not change any of the main text but merely added new sections, and a second update with illustrations in 1859. In 1864, Merriam published a much expanded edition, which was the first version to change Webster's text, largely overhauling his work, yet retaining many of his definitions and the title, "An American Dictionary". This began a series of revisions known as "Unabridged", which became increasingly as much "Merriam" as "Webster."

With the edition of 1890, the dictionary was retitled "Webster's International". The vocabulary was vastly expanded in "Webster's New International" editions of 1909 and 1934, totaling over half a million words, with the 1934 edition retrospectively called "Webster's Second International," or simply "The Second Edition." Merriam overhauled the dictionary again with the 1961 "Webster's Third New International" under the direction of Philip B. Gove, making changes which sparked public controversy. (For more details on these dictionaries, see Webster's Dictionary.)

The "Collegiate Dictionary" series was initiated in 1898. Since the 1940s, the company has added many specialized dictionaries, language aides, and other references to its repertoire.

The G. & C. Merriam Company lost its right to exclusive use of the name "Webster" after a series of lawsuits placed it in public domain. Its name was changed to Merriam–Webster Inc. with the publication of Webster's Ninth New Collegiate Dictionary in 1983. The company has been a subsidiary of Encyclopædia Britannica Inc. since 1964.

Today

In 1996, Merriam-Webster launched its first website, which provided free access to an online dictionary and thesaurus.[4]

As of 2003, the company's two best known dictionaries were:

Merriam-Webster has also published dictionaries of synonyms, English usage, geography (Merriam-Webster's Geographical Dictionary), biography, proper names, medical terms, sports terms, slang, SpanishEnglish, and numerous others. Non-dictionary publications include Collegiate Thesaurus, Secretarial Handbook, Manual for Writers and Editors, Collegiate Encyclopedia, Encyclopedia of Literature, and Encyclopedia of World Religions.

On February 14, 2007 Merriam–Webster announced it was working with mobile search and information provider AskMeNow to launch a mobile dictionary and thesaurus service enabling consumers to access definitions, spelling and synonyms via text message. Services also include Merriam–Webster's Word of the Day and Open Dictionary, a wiki service promising subscribers the opportunity to create and submit their own new words and definitions.

Pronunciation guides

The Merriam–Webster company once used a unique set of phonetic symbols in their dictionaries which permitted people from various parts of the US to learn how to pronounce new words as others who spoke with the same accent or dialect did. But Unicode did not specify room for these characters in their list. To enable a variety of computer systems to access the pronunciation, the online services of Merriam–Webster specify a less-specific use of ASCII characters, which should not be confused with the former print fonts.

See also

References

External links


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Look at other dictionaries:

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  • Merriam-Webster — Merriam Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary (verkürzend auch Webster’s Dictionary) ist ein im englischsprachigen Raum (vor allem den USA) sehr bekanntes und häufig verwendetes Wörterbuch. Es enthält eine gekürzte Fassung des International Dictionary …   Deutsch Wikipedia

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  • Merriam-Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary — (verkürzend auch Webster’s Dictionary oder (Merriam )Webster) ist ein im englischsprachigen Raum (vor allem den USA) sehr bekanntes und häufig verwendetes Wörterbuch. Es enthält eine gekürzte Fassung des Webster’s New International Dictionary,… …   Deutsch Wikipedia

  • Merriam–Webster's Dictionary of English Usage — is a usage dictionary published by Merriam Webster, Inc., of Springfield, Massachusetts. It is currently available in a reprint edition (1994) ISBN 0 87779 132 5 or ISBN 978 0877791324. (The 1989 edition did not include Merriam– in the title. It… …   Wikipedia

  • Merriam-Webster (desambiguación) — Merriam Webster puede referirse a: Merriam Webster, Inc., una editorial filial de Encyclopedia Britannica, Inc.; Merriam Webster s Collegiate Dictionary, Eleventh Edition, un diccionario publicada por Merriam Webster, Inc.; Webster s Third New… …   Wikipedia Español

  • Merriam-Webster's Advanced Learner's English Dictionary — Merriam Webster s Advanced Learner s English Dictionary(ISBN 978 0 87779 550 6) was published in 2008. External links v …   Wikipedia

  • Merriam Webster's Dictionary of English Usage — is a style guide in dictionary form published by Merriam Webster, Inc., of Springfield, Massachusetts. It is currently available in a reprint edition (1994) ISBN 0 87779 132 5 or ISBN 978 0877791324. It is critically acclaimed by linguist… …   Wikipedia

  • Merriam-Webster dictionary — ▪ American reference work       any of various lexicographic works published by the G. & C. Merriam Co. renamed Merriam Webster, Incorporated, in 1982 which is located in Springfield, Massachusetts, U.S., and which since 1964 has been a… …   Universalium


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