Centennial Celebration of The Century Dictionary Lhe Century Dictionary (hereafter, the Century) is, by all accounts, one of the great achievements in American lexicography, celebrated by Frances A. March in 1889 as "the handsomest dictionary that ever was made" (450)--a tribute repeated by Sidney Landau in 1984 (72). In 1913, Stewart Archer Stegner, with a sidelong and admiring glance at the unfinished OED, declared: "The Century is, on the whole, the best completed dictionary of the English language" (117). For 100 years, it has been regarded as a work of minute scholarship and broad appeal to a wide public. Like all good dictionaries, the Century built upon its predecessors and added new features and innovations to traditional practice. The ancestral tree leading up to it was carefully laid out by the successive editors. The story begins with John Ogilvie's Imperial Dictionary (here- after, the Imperial) issued in parts at 2/6 each beginning in 1847 and completed in 1850 (Blackie, 22). In his Preface Ogilvie explained the descent of the large English dictionaries: "The principal dictionaries of the English language in use at present, are Johnson's, first published in 1755; Richardson's, commenced in 1826; and that of Webster, of
Dictionaries: Journal of the Dictionary Society of North America – Dictionary Society of North America
Published: Apr 4, 1996
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