Skip to main content

Everything You Need To Know About The English Dictionary

Submitted by solomon on Thu, 05/11/2017 - 09:32
A close up of 'blog' definition in the English dictionary.
Pic: Flickr Creative Commons

What is a dictionary?

Homer Simpson reading the dictionary.
GIF: Giphy

A dictionary is "a book or electronic resource that lists the words of a language, typically in alphabetical order) and gives their meaning, or gives the equivalent words in a different language. The dictionary also provides information about pronunciation, origin and usage." Dictionaries are useful resources to support with writing and reading.

What is the difference between a dictionary and a thesaurus?

A dictionary provides the definitions of words, whereas a thesaurus is used to find synonyms, which are different words that have the same meaning.

Who created the first English dictionary?

An image of Samuel Johnson in an early print of the dictionary.
Pic: Flickr Creative Commons

Some people regard Robert Cawdrey as the first man to produce the dictionary. Officially, a man named Samuel Johnson was responsible for writing the first English Dictionary. It took him approximately nine years to do so, but he did this all alone - an impressive feat!

When was the first English dictionary published?

Robert Cawdrey’s version of wordlists was published in 1604. Samuel Johnson’s official English Language dictionary was published much later in 1755.

Can new words be added to the dictionary?

'Bling' definition in the dictionary.
GIF: Giphy

New words are added to the dictionary all the time. The dictionary is constantly being updated and revised as language changes. New words have to be agreed by a group of very important people! However, in recent years, the urban dictionary has been created and is an open platform so anyone can go and add words that have emerged from social media or popular culture. Most people who add words to the urban dictionary are younger! 

By Kierran