A dictionary is a list of terms from the lexicon of one or more languages, usually alphabetically ordered (or by radical and stroke for logographic languages, or by consonantal root for Semitic languages). It may contain definitions, usage, etymologies, pronunciations, translations, and other related information.It is a lexicographical reference that illustrates how the data are related to one another.
There is a broad differentiation between specialized and general dictionaries. Rather than listing every word in the language, specialized dictionaries only list words from specific fields. Although there is disagreement over whether lexicology and terminology are distinct fields of study, lexical items that represent concepts in particular fields are typically referred to as terms rather than words.The oretically, specialized dictionaries should be onomasiological, first identifying concepts and then establishing the terms used to designate them, whereas general dictionaries should be semasiological, mapping word to definition . Both types are addressed by the two approaches in practice.
Other types of dictionaries, such as bilingual (translation) dictionaries, thesauri (dictionaries of synonyms), and rhyming dictionaries, do not neatly fit into the aforementioned distinction. Most commonly, the term “dictionary” (unqualified) refers to a general-purpose, monolingual dictionary.
Prescriptive and descriptive dictionaries differ in that the former record recorded actual use of the language, while the latter reflect what is considered proper usage. Some people also believe that many modern dictionaries’ stylistic indicators—such as “informal” or “vulgar”—are not very objectively descriptive.
The earliest known dictionaries are bilingual Sumerian dictionaries from approximately 2300 BCE, and the earliest surviving monolingual dictionaries are Chinese dictionaries from the third century BCE. A Table Alphabeticall, published in 1604, was the first alphabetical dictionary written entirely in English. Around the same time, monolingual dictionaries in other languages also started to appear in Europe. The 20th century saw the rise of lexicography, a field of systematic study of dictionaries as objects of scientific interest, which was primarily started by Ladislav Zgusta. The practical dictionary writers were sometimes accused by others of having a “astonishing” lack of method and critical self-reflection, which contributed to the controversy surrounding the discipline’s birth.



Cuneiform tablets containing bilingual Sumerian-Akkadian wordlists are the earliest known dictionaries. They were found in Ebla, modern-day Syria, and date to approximately 2300 BCE, the period of the Akkadian Empire. Such bilingual Sumerian wordlists are canonically Babylonian, appearing in the Urra=hubullu glossary from the early 2nd millennium BCE. The earliest surviving monolingual dictionary is a Chinese dictionary called the Erya, which dates to the third century BCE. Some sources also refer to the Shizhoupian as a “dictionary,” despite the fact that modern scholarship views it as a calligraphic compilation of Chinese characters from bronzes produced during the Zhou dynasty, which was likely composed between 700 and 200 BCE.[Reference required] Disorderly Words (Ἄτακτoι γλῶσσαι, Átaktoi glôssai), a groundbreaking lexicon penned by Philitas of Cos (fl. 4th century BCE), clarified the meanings of obscure Homeric and other literary terms, words from local dialects, and technical terms.


The earliest extant Homeric lexicon was penned by Apollonius the Sophist, who lived in the first century CE.Amarasimha penned the Amarakośa, the first Sanskrit dictionary, sometime in the fourth century CE. It was composed in verse and had about 10,000 words. The long-lost Niina glossary of Chinese characters, which dates to 682 CE, is credited by the Nihon Shoki as being the first Japanese dictionary. The earliest known Arabic dictionary is Kitab al-‘Ayn, written in the eighth century by Al-Khalil ibn Ahmad al-Farahidi.Chinese writing was glossed in the Tenrei Banshō Meigi, the oldest Japanese dictionary still in existence, which dates back to around 835 CE. Aramaic heterograms are listed in Frahang-i Pahlavig along with their phonetic transcription in the Pazend alphabet and translation into Middle Persian. Sanas Cormaic, an Irish dictionary from the ninth century CE, provided etymologies and explanations for more than 1,400 terms.
For the Turkic-Khwarazm ruler Atsiz, Al-Zamakhshari penned a little Arabic dictionary titled “Muḳaddimetü’l-edeb”. Completed in the fourteenth century, the Codex Cumanicus functioned as a lexicon pertaining to the Cuman-Turkic language. Ebû Hayyân el-Endelüsî completed “Kitâbü’l-İdrâk li-lisâni’l-Etrâk,” a dictionary about the Kipchak and Turcoman languages spoken in Egypt and the Levant, while he was in Mamluk Egypt. An Old Anatolian Turkish dictionary known as “Bahşayiş Lügati” also functioned as an Oghuz Turkish, Arabic, and Persian dictionary. However, it’s unclear who wrote the dictionary and precisely which century it was released. It was composed not in late medieval Ottoman Turkish, but in old Anatolian Turkish from the Seljuk era. Around 1320, Amir Khusro assembled the Khaliq-e-bari in India.
Between the eighth and fourteenth centuries, Arabic dictionaries were created. They arranged words either by alphabetical order of radicals, by rhyme order (based on the final syllable), or by alphabetical order of the first letter (a method similar to that employed in contemporary European language dictionaries). While most general use dictionaries, like Lisan al-{Arab (13th century, still the best-known large-scale dictionary of Arabic) and al-Qamus al-Muhit (14th century), listed words in the alphabetical order of the radicals, the modern system was primarily used in specialized dictionaries, such as those of terms from the Qur’an and hadith. The first practical Arabic dictionary is called Qamus al-Muhit; it only contains words and their definitions, removing the supporting examples found in dictionaries.
Glossaries that provided simplified Latin or vernacular equivalents for Latin words were in use throughout medieval Europe (e.g. the Leiden Glossary). Johannes Balbus’s Catholicon (1287), a comprehensive grammar with an alphabetical lexicon, was extensively used.
Up until the end of the 20th century, Henry George Liddell and Robert Scott’s 1843 first edition of A Greek-English Lexicon served as the standard Greek dictionary. Additionally, the Brothers Grimm’s first volume of the Deutsches Wörterbuch was published in 1858; the project was finished in 1961. Niccolò Tommaseo published Dizionario della lingua italiana between 1861 and 1874. The six volumes of Gergely Czuczor and János Fogarasi’s A magyar nyelv szótára (Dictionary of Hungarian Language) were published between 1862 and 1874. The Dictionnaire de la langue française was published by Émile Littré between 1863 and 1872. The first volume of the Woordenboek der Nederlandsche Taal, which was finished in 1998, was published in the same year, 1863.

British dictionaries in English

Glossaries of French, Spanish, or Latin words with English definitions were the first dictionaries written in the English language. An Englishman named John of Garland coined the term “dictionary” in 1220; he had penned a book titled Dictionarius to aid in Latin “diction”. Richard Mulcaster compiled the Elementarie, a non-alphabetical list of 8,000 English words, in 1582.
Robert Cawdrey, an English teacher, wrote A Table Alphabeticall, the first alphabetical dictionary written entirely in English, in 1604. The Bodleian Library in Oxford is home to the last extant copy. This dictionary was viewed as untrustworthy and far from definitive, as were the numerous copies that came after it. Fifteen years later, in 1754, Philip Stanhope, 4th Earl of Chesterfield, was still grieving over Cawdrey’s death.
John Bullokar’s “English Expositor” from 1616 provided a history of the dictionary. More than ten thousand words and their histories are included in Thomas Blount’s 1656 book Glossographia. Edward Phillips penned “The New World of English Words: Or a General Dictionary” in 1658, blatantly stealing Blount’s ideas. The two criticized one another for their work. This increased curiosity about the dictionaries. William Lloyd’s meticulously curated list of 11,500 words is included in John Wilkins’ 1668 essay on philosophical language. The “English Dictionary” was first published in 1676 by Elisha Coles.
A more trustworthy English dictionary wasn’t created until Samuel Johnson’s A Dictionary of the English Language (1755). A testament to this legacy is the widespread misconception that Johnson penned the first English dictionary today.By this point, dictionaries had changed from being arranged by topic (a previous popular form of arrangement, which meant all animals would be grouped together, etc.) to being alphabetical, with textual references for the majority of words. One could argue that Johnson’s masterpiece was the first to combine all these components, producing the first “modern” dictionary.
For more than 150 years, Johnson’s dictionary was the accepted English-language source until Oxford University Press started producing the Oxford English Dictionary in digestible fascicles starting in 1884. This massive project took almost 50 years to finish, and the OED was eventually published in its entirety in twelve volumes in 1928.[Reference required] William Chester Minor, a former army surgeon who was imprisoned in a mental institution for criminals and convicted murderer, was one of the primary contributors to this contemporary lexicon.
Even now, the OED is still the most complete and reliable dictionary of the English language, with updates and revisions added by a committed team every three months.


American dictionaries in English

A Compendious Dictionary of the English Language, the first dictionary published by American Noah Webster, was released in 1806. An American Dictionary of the English Language was a twenty-seven-year project that Webster started in 1807 and took a long time to compile. Webster studied twenty-six languages, including Old English (Anglo-Saxon), German, Greek, Latin, Italian, Spanish, French, Hebrew, Arabic, and Sanskrit, in order to assess the etymology of words.During his year abroad in 1825, Webster finished his dictionary at the University of Cambridge and in Paris, France. Twelve thousand of the seventy thousand words in his book had never before been published in a dictionary. Webster, a spelling reformer, introduced spellings that became American English in his dictionary, such as “color” for “color,” “wagon” for “waggon,” and “center” for “centerre.” He felt that English spelling rules were unduly complicated. In addition, he added American terms that were absent from British dictionaries, such as “squash” and “skunk”. Webster published his dictionary in 1828 at the age of seventy, and it sold 2,500 copies. The second edition came out in two volumes in 1840. G & C Merriam Co. purchased Webster’s dictionary in 1843.
The American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language, which was published in 1969 and was the first dictionary to use corpus linguistics, was inspired by the controversy surrounding the 1961 Webster’s Third New International Dictionary’s lack of usage advice.



Every word in a general dictionary might have more than one definition. While some dictionaries list definitions in chronological order, with the earliest usage coming first, others include each individual meaning in the order of most common usage.
Words can have many different forms in many languages, but most dictionaries only list the undeclined or unconjugated form as the headword. The most common form of a dictionary is a book, but some more recent versions, such as StarDict and the New Oxford American Dictionary, are computer or PDA software dictionaries. Through the Internet, one can also access a plethora of online dictionaries.


Specialized dictionaries

A specialized dictionary, also called a technical dictionary, is defined by the Manual of Specialized Lexicographies as a dictionary that concentrates on a particular subject area rather than a dictionary that includes all of the words in the lexicon of a particular language or languages. Lexicographers classify specialized dictionaries into three types, as described in The Bilingual LSP Dictionary: a multi-field dictionary covers a broad range of subject fields (e.g., business dictionary); a single-field dictionary covers a specific subject field (e.g., law); and a sub-field dictionary covers a more specialized field (e.g. constitutional law).


Dictionary definitions

A core glossary of the most basic definitions for the most basic concepts is offered by the simplest dictionary, also known as a defining dictionary. For people who are just starting to learn a language in particular, these can be used to define and clarify other concepts. Commercial definition dictionaries of English usually contain only one or two definitions for words with fewer than 2000 words. With these, one can define the remainder of the language, including the 4000 most frequently used idioms and metaphors.


Dictionaries from the past

A historical dictionary is a particular type of descriptive dictionary that details how words and meanings have changed over time. Its conclusions are typically supported by citations to the original source material.


Natural language processing dictionaries

Natural language processing (NLP) dictionaries are designed to be used by computer programs, as opposed to traditional dictionaries, which are intended for human use. A program is the direct user, but a human is the final user. It is not necessary for such a dictionary to be able to print on paper. The content is arranged in a complex network structure rather than a linear, entry-by-entry fashion (see Diathesis alternation). The content is typically multilingual and enormous in size because the majority of these dictionaries are used to manage machine translations or cross-lingual information retrieval (CLIR). To facilitate the official interchange and combination of dictionaries, an ISO standard known as Lexical Markup Framework (LMF) has been defined and used among the industrial and academic community.


How to Pronounce It

Certain words in many languages, including English, have pronunciations that are not always clear from their spelling. The pronunciation in these languages is typically given by dictionaries. For instance, the International Phonetic Alphabet spelling /ˈdɪkσ{nəri/ (in British English) or /ˈdɪkŃ{nri/ (in American English) could come after the definition of the word dictionary. Dictionary is respelled as “dĭk′shə-nĕr′ē” in the American Heritage Dictionary, one of the many pronunciation respelling systems used by American English dictionaries.In the British Commonwealth nations, the IPA is more often used. Some, however, employ their own diacritical-free pronunciation systems; dictionary, for instance, might be respelled as DIK-shə-nerr-ee. There are electronic or online dictionaries that offer spoken word recordings.

Online dictionaries

Online dictionaries were first available for desktop computers and, more recently, smartphones during the Internet era. Holistic, pragmatic, caveat, esoteric, and bourgeois are currently among the top ten lookup terms on Merriam-Webster Online, according to David Skinner’s 2013 report. Lexicography’s historical goal has been to educate users about words they are unfamiliar with, and contemporary dictionaries are good at this.”


Many websites exist that function as online dictionaries, typically with a particular emphasis. Some of them only feature content created by users, which frequently consists of neologisms. List of online dictionaries and Category:Online dictionaries provide some of the more noteworthy examples.





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