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separate and unconnected, are now to be like- more particularly the creation, privileges, and wise examined as they are ranged in their va- rank of baronets; and whether, under the word rious relations to others by the rules of syntax barometer, instead of being satisfied with obor construction, to which I do not know that any serving that it is an instrument to discover the regard has been yet shown in English diction- weight of the air, it would be fit to spend a few arics, and in which the grammarians can give lines upon its invention, construction, and prinlittle assistance. The syntax of this language ciples. It is not to be expected, that with the is too inconsistent to be reduced to rules, and explanation of the one the herald should be can be only learned by the distinct consideration satisfied, or the philosopher with that of the of particular words, as they are used by the best other; but since it will be required hy common authors. Thus, we say, according to the pre- readers, that the explications should be suffisent modes of speech, The soldier died of his cient for common use, and since, without some wounds, and the sailor perished with hunger : attention to such demands, the Dictionary canand every man acquainted with our language not become generally valuable, I have deterwould be offended by a change of these parti- mined to consult the best writers for explanacies, which yet seem originally assigned by tions real as well as verbal; and perhaps I may chance, there being no reason to be drawn from at last have reason to say, after one of the auggrammar why a man may not, with equal pro- menters of Furetier, that my book is more learnpriety, he said to die with a wound, or perish of ed than its author. hunger.
In explaining the general and popular lanOur syntax therefore is not to be taught by guage, it seems necessary to sort the several general rules, but by special precedents; and in senses of each word, and to exhibit first its naexamining whether Addison has been with jus- tural and primitive signification; as, tice accused of a solecism in this passage,
To arrive, to reach the shore in a voyage: he
arrived at a safe harbour. The poor inhabitanStarves in the midst of nature's hounty curst,
Then to give its conscquential meaning, to And in the loaded vineyard dies for thirsi,
arrive, to reach any place, whether by land or it is not in our power to have recourse to any
sea; as, he arrived at his country seat. established laws of speech; but we must remark
Then its metaphorical sense, to obtain any how the writers of former ages have used the thing desired ; as, he arrived at a peerage. same word, and consider whether he can be
Then to mention any observation that arises acquitted of impropriety, upon the testimony from the comparison of one meaning with anoof Davies, given in his favour by a similar pas- that, in consequence of its original and etymolo
ther; as it may be remarked of the word arrive, sage :
gical sense, it cannot be properly applied but to She loathes the waterv glass wherein she gaz'd, And shuns it still, although for thirst she die.
words signifying something desirable: thus we
say, a man arrived at happiness; but cannot When the construction of a word is explained, say, without a mixture of irony, he arrived at it is necessary to pursue it through its train of
misery. phraseology, through those forms where it is
Ground, the earth, generally as opposed to used in a manner peculiar to our language, or the air or water. He swain till he reached in senses not to be comprised in the general ex-ground. The bird fell to the ground, planations; as from the verb make arise these Then follows the accidental or consequential phrases, to make love, to make an end, to make signification in which ground implies any thing way; as, he made way for his followers, the ship that lies under another; as, he laid colours upon made way before the wind; to make a bed, to
a rough ground. The silk had blue flowers on make merry, to make a mock, to make presents, to a red ground. make a doubt, to make out an assertion, to make Then the remoter or metaphorical significagood a breach, to make good a cause, to make tion; as, the ground of his opinion was a false nothing of an attempt, to make lamentation, to computation. The ground of his work was his make a merit, and many others which will occur father's manuscript. in reading with that view, and which only their
After having gone through the natural and frequency hinders from being generally re- figurative senses, it will be proper to subjoin the marked,
poetical sense of each word, where it differs The great labour is yet to come, the labour of from that which is in common use; as wanton, interpreting these words and phrases with bre-applied to any thing of which the motion is irrevity, 'fulness, and perspicuity; a task of which gular without terror ; as, the extent and intricacy is sufficiently shown by the miscarriage of those who have generally
In wanton ringlets curl'd her hair. attempted it. This difficulty is increased by the To the poetical sense may succeed the faminecessity of explaining the words in the same liar; as of toast, used to imply the person whose language, for there is often only one word for health is drank; as, one idea; and though it be easy to translate the
The wise man's passion and the vain man's toasi. words bright, sweet, salt, bitter, into another lan
Pope. guage, it is not easy to explain them. With regard to the interpretation, many other lesque; as of mellow, applied to good fellowship:
The familiar may be followed by the burquestions have required consideration. It was some time doubted whether it be necessary to In all thy humours, whether grave or mellow. explain the things implied by particular words;
Addison. as under the term baronet, whether, instead of Or of bite, used for cheat : this explanation, a title of honour nert in degree
More a dupe than wit, to that of baron, it would be better to mention Sappho can tell you how this man was bil.-Pope.
And lastly, may be produced the peculiar | dental and adventitious, I shall endeavour to sense in which a word is found in any great give an account of the means by which they author; as faculties, in Shakspeare, signifies the were introduced. Thus, to eke out any thing, powers of authority:
signifies to lengthen it beyond its just dimen
sions, by some low artifice; because the word Has bornc his faculties so meek, has been eke was the usual refuge of our old writers, when So clear in his great office, thai, Sc.
they wanted a syllable. And buzom, which The signification of adjectives may be often means only obedient, is now made, in familiar ascertained by uniting them to substantives; as phrases, to stand for wanton; because in an ansimple swain, simple sheep. Sometimes the sense cient form of marriage, before the Reformation, of a substantive may be elucidated by the epi- the bride promised complaisance and obedience, thets annexed to it'in good authors: as, the in these terms; “I will be bonair and buxom in boundless ocean, the
open lawns : and where such bed and at board." advantage can be gained by a short quotation, it
I know well, my Lord, how trifling many of is not to be omitted.
these remarks will appear separately considered, The difference of signification in words gene- and how easily they may give occasion to the rally accounted synonymous, ought to be care contemptuous merriment of sportive idleness, fully observed ; as in pride, haughtiness, arro- and the gloomy censures of arrogant stupidity; gance : and the strict and critical meaning ought but dulness it is easy to despise, and laughter it to be distinguished from that which is loose and is easy to repay. I shall not be solicitous what popular; as in the word perfection, which, though is thought of my work by such as know not the in its philosophical and exact sense it can be of difficulty or importance of philological studies; little use among human beings, is often so much nor shall think those that have done nothing, degraded from its original signification, that the qualified to condemn me for doing little. It may academicians have inserted in their work, the not, however, be improper to remind them, that perfection of a language, and, with a little more
no terrestrial greatness is more than an aggrelicentiousness, might have prevailed on them- gate of little things; and to inculcate, after the selves to have added the perfection of a dictionary. Arabian proverb, that drops, added to drops, con
There are many other characters of words stitute the ocean. which it will be of use to mention. Some have
There remains yet to be considered the distriboth an active and passive signification; as fear-bution of words into their proper classes, or that ful, that which gives or which feels terror; a part of lexicography which is strictly critical. fearful prodigy, a fearful hare. Some have a per- cludes all words not appropriated to particular
The popular part of the language, which insonal, some a real meaning; as in opposition to old, we use the adjective young, of animated be sciences, admits of many distinctions and subdiings, and nero of other things. Some are re
visions; as, into words of general use, words strained to the sense of praise, and others to that employed chiefly in poetry, words obsolete, of disapprobation; so commonly, though not words which are admitted only by particular always, we exhort' to good actions, we instigate writers, yet not in themselves improper ; words to ill; we animate, incite, and encourage indiffer- used only in burlesque writing; and words imently to good or bad. So we usually ascribe pure and barbarous. good but impute evil; yet neither the use of these
Words of general use will be known by havwords, not, perhaps, of any other in our licen- ing no sign of particularity, and their various tious language is so established as not to be senses will be supported by authorities of all often reversed by the correctest writers. I shall ages: therefore, since the rules of style, like those of
The words appropriated to poetry will be dislaw, arise from precedents often repeated, collect tinguished by some mark prefixed, or will be the testimonies on both sides, and endeavour to known by having no authorities but those of discover and promulgate the decrees of custom,
poets. who has so long possessed, whether by right or inserted but such as are to be found in authors
Of antiquated or obsolete words, none will be by usurpation, the sovereignty of words.
It is necessary likewise to explain many words who wrote since the accession of Elizabeth, from by their opposition to others; for contraries are
which we date the golden age of our language; best seen when they stand together. Thus the and of these many might be omitted, but that verb, stand has one sense, as opposed to fall, and the reader may require, with an appearance of another as opposed to fly; for want of attending reason, that no difficulty should be left unreto which distinction, obvious as it is, the learned solved in books which he finds himself invited Dr. Bentley has squandered his criticism to no
to read, as confessed and established models of purpose, on these lines of Paradise Lost: style. These will be likewise pointed out by
some note of exclusion, but not of disgrace. In heaps Chariot and charioteer lay overturn'd,
The words which are found only in particular And fiery foaming steeds. What stood, recoilid,
books, will be known by the single name of him O'erwearied, through the faint satanic host,
that has used them; but such will be omitted, Defensive scarce, or with pale fear surpris'd,
unless either their propriety, elegance, or force, Fled ignominious
or the reputation of their authors, affords some “Here,” says the critic, “as the sentence is extraordinary reason for their reception. now road, we find that what stood, fled:” and Words used in burlesque and familiar compotherefore he proposes an alteration, which he sitions, will be likewise mentioned with their might have spared if he had consulted a dic- proper authorities ; such as dudgeon, from Butler, tionary, and found that nothing more was af- and leasing, from Prior; and will be diligently firmed than that those fled who did not fall. characterised by marks of distinction.
In explaining such meanings as seem acci Barbarous or impure words and expressions
may be branded with some note of infamy, as for scathe and buxom, now obsolete, Milton may they are carefully to be eradicated wherever be cited, they are found; and they occur too frequently
The mountain oak even in the best writers; as in Pope,
Stands scathed to heaver
-He with broad sails -in endless error hurl'd.
Window'd the brom air'Tis these that early taint the female soul. In Addison:
By this method every word will have its his
tory, and the reader will be informed of the Attend to what a lesser muse incites.
gradual changes of the language and have before And in Dryden:
his eyes the rise of some words, and the fall of
others. But observations so minute and accuA dreadful quiet felt, and worser far Than arms
rate are to be desired, rather than expected; and
if use be carefully supplied, curiosity inust someIf this part of the work can be well performed, times bear its disappointments. it will be equivalent to the proposal made by. This, my Lord, is my idea of an English DicBoileau to the academicians, that they should tionary; a dictionary by which the pronunciation review all their polite writers, and correct such of our language may be fixed, and its attainment impurities as might be found in them, that their facilitated; by which its purity may be preserved, authority might not contribute, at any distant its use ascertained, and its duration lengthened. time, to the depravation of the language. And though, perhaps, to correct the language
With regard to questions of purity or pro- of nations by books of grammar, and amend their priety, I was once in doubt whether I should not manners by discoursce of morality, may be tasks attribute too much to myself in attempting to equally difficult; yet, as it is unavoidable to decide them, and whether my province was to wish, it is natural likewise to hope that your extend beyond the proposition of the question, Lordship's patronage may not be wholly lost; and the display of the suffrages on each side; that it may contribute to the preservation of anbut I have been since determined, by your Lord cient, and the improvement of modern writers; ship's opinion, to interpose my own judgment, that it may promote the reformation of those and shall therefore endeavour to support what translators, who, for want of understanding the appears to me most consonant to grammar and characteristical difference of tongues, have formed
Ausonius thought that modesty forbad a chaotic dialect of heterogeneous phrases; and him to plead inability for a task to which Cæsar awaken to the care of purer diction some men had judged him equal.
of genius, whose attention to argument makes Cur me posse negem, posse quod ille putat?
them negligent of style, or whose rapid imagina
tion, like the Peruvian torrents, when it brings And I may hope, my Lord, that since you, down gold mingles it with sand. whose authority in our language is so generally When I survey the Plan which I have laid acknowledged, have commissioned me to declare before you, I cannot, my Lord, but confess, that my own opinion, I shall be considered as exer- I am frighted at its extent, and, like the soldiers cising a kind of vicarious jurisdiction, and that of Cæsar, look on Britain as a new world, which the power which might have been denied to my it is almost madness to invade. But I hope, that own claim, will be readily allowed me as the though I should not complete the conquest, I delegate of your Lordship.
shall at least discover the coast, civilize part of In citing authorities, on which the credit of the inhabitants, and make it easy for some other every part of this work must depend, it will be adventurer to proceed farther, to reduce them proper to observe some obvious rules: such as wholly to subjection, and settle them under laws. of preferring, writers of the first reputation to We are taught by the great Roman orator, those of an inferior rank; of noting the quota- that every man should propose to himself the tions with accuracy; and of selecting, when it highest degree of excellence, but that he may can be conveniently done, such sentences as, stop with honour at the second or third : though besides their immediate use, may give pleasure therefore my performance should fall below the or instruction, by conveying some elegance of excellence of other dictionaries, I may obtain, language, or some precept of prudence, or picty. at least, the praise of having endeavoured well;
It has been asked, on some occasions, who nor shall I think it any reproach to my dilishall judge the judges? And since, with regard gence, that I have retired without a triumph, to this design, a question may arise by what from a contest with united academies, and long authority the authorities are selected, it is neces- successions of learned compilers. I cannot hope, sary to obviate it, by declaring that many of the in the warmest moments, to preserve so much writers whose testimonies will be alleged, were caution through so long a work as not often to selected by Mr. Pope; of whom I may be justi- sink into negligence, or to obtain so much knowfied in affirming, that were he still alive, solici- ledge of all its parts as not frequently to fall by tous as he was for the success of this work, he ignorance. I expect that sometimes the desire would not be displeased that I have under- of accuracy will urge me to superfluities, and taken it.
sometimes the fear of prolixity betray me to It will be proper that the quotations be ranged omissions : that in the extent of such variety, I according to the ages of their authors; and it shall be often bewildered ; and in the mazes of will afford an agreeable amusement, if to the such intricacy, be frequently entangled; that in words and phrases which are not of our own one part refinement will be subtilized beyond growth, the name of the writer who first intro- exactness, and evidence dilated in another beyond duced them can be affixed; and if to words perspicuity. Yet I do not despair of approbation which are now antiquated, the authority be sub- from those who, knowing the uncertainty of conjoined of him who last adnaitted them. Thus |jecture, the scantiness of knowledge, the fallibi
lity of memory, and the unsteadiness of atten- | attempt which has procured me the honour of tion, can compare the causes of error with the appearing thus publicly, My Lord, means of avoiding it, and the extent of art with
Your Lordship’s most obedient the capacity of man; and whatever be the event
and most humble servant, of my endeavours, I shall not easily regret an
P R E FACE
It is the fate of those who toil at the lower tion were continually increasing; and analogy, employments of life, to be rather driven by the which, though in some words obscure, was evifear of evil, than attracted by the prospect of dent in others. good ; to be exposed to censure, without hope of In adjusting the Orthography, which has been praise; to be disgraced by miscarriage, or pu. to this time unsettled and fortuitous, I found it nished for neglect, where success would have necessary to distinguish those irregularities that been without applause, and diligence without are inherent in our tongue, and perhaps coeval reward.
with it, from others which the ignorance or Among these unhappy mortals is the writer negligence of later writers has produced. Every of dictionaries ; whom mankind have consider- language has its anomalies, which though inconed, not as the pripil, but the slave of science, the venient, and in themselves once unnecessary, pioneer of literature, doomed only to remove must be tolerated among the imperfections of rubbish and clear obstructions from the paths human things, and which require only to be through which Learning and Genius press for registered, that they may not be increased, and ward to conquest and glory, without bestowing ascertained that they may not be confounded; a smile on the humble drudge that facilitates but every langnage has likewise its improprietheir progress. Every other author may aspire ties and absurdities, which it is the duty of the to praise; the lexicographer can only hope to lexicographer to correct or proscribe. escape reproach, and even this negative recom As language was at its beginning merely oral, pense has been yet granted to very few. all words of necessary or common use were
I have, notwithstanding this discouragement, spoken before they were written; and while attempted a Dictionary of the English Language, they were unfixed by any visible signs, must which, while it was employed in the cultivation have been spoken with great diversity, as we of every species of literature, has itself been now observe those who cannot read to catch hitherto neglected; suffered to spread under the sounds imperfectly, and utter them negligently. direction of chance, into wild exuberance; re- When this wild and barbarous jargon was first signed to the tyranny of time and fashion: and reduced to an alphabet, every penman endeaexposed to the corruptions of ignorance and ca-voured to express, as he could, the sounds which prices of innovation.
he was accustomed to pronounce or to receive, When I took the first survey of my under- and vitiated in writing such words as were altaking, I found our speech copious without or ready vitiated in speech. The powers of the der, and energetic without rule; wherever I letters when they were applied to a new lanturned my view, there was perplexity to be dis- guage, must have been vague and unsettled, and entangled and confusion to be regulated; choice therefore different hands would exhibit the same was to be made out of boundless variety, with sound by different combinations. out any established principle of selection ; adul From this uncertain pronunciation arise in a terations were to be detected, without a settled great part the various dialects of the same countest of purity; and modes of expression to be try, which will always be observed to grow fewer, rejected or received, without the suffrages of and less different, as books are multiplied; and any writers of classical reputation or acknow- from this arbitrary representation of sounds by ledged authority.
letters proceeds that diversity of spelling, observaHaving therefore no assistance but from gene- ble in the Saxon remains, and I suppose in the ral grammar, I applied myself to the perusal of first books of every nation, which perplexes or our writers; and noting whatever might be of destroys analogy, and produces anomalous foruse to ascertain or illustrate any word or phrase, mations, which, being once incorporated, can accumulated in time the materials of a dictionary, never be afterwards dismissed or reformed. which, by degrees, I reduced to method, esta Of this kind are the derivatives length from blishing to myself, in the progress of the work, long, strength from strong, darling from dear, such rules as experience and analogy suggested breadth from broad, from dry, drought, and from to me; experience, which practice and observa- I high, height, which Milton, in zeal for analogy,
writes highth : Quid te exempta juvat spinis del. In this part of the work, where caprice has pluribus una ? to change all would be too much, long wantoned without control, and vanity and to change one is nothing.
sought praise by petty reformation, I have enThis uncertainty is most frequent in the vow- Jeavoured to proceed with a scholar's reverence els, which are so capriciously pronounced, and for antiquity, and a grammarian’s regard to the so differently modified, by accident or affectation, genius of our tongue. I have attempted few not only in every province, but in every mouth, | alterations, and among those few, perhaps the that to them, as is well known to etymologists, greater part is from the modern to the ancient little regard is to be shown in the deduction of practice; and I hope I may be allowed to reone language from another.
commend to those, whose thoughts have been Such defects are not errors in orthography, perhaps employed too anxiously on verbal singubut spots of barbarity impressed so deep in the larities, not to disturb, upon narrow views, or English language, that criticism can never wash for minute propriety, the orthography of their them away; these therefore must be permitted fathers. It has been asserted, that for the law to to remain untouched; but many words have be known, is of more importance than to be likewise been altered by accident, or depraved right. "Change,” says Hooker, “is not made by ignorance, as the pronunciation of the vulgar without inconvenience, even from worse to bethas been weakly followed; and some still con- ter.” There is in constancy and stability a tinue to be variously written, as authors differ general and lasting advantage, which will alin their care or skill: of these it was proper to ways overbalance the slow improvements of inquire the true orthography, which I have gradual correction. Much less ought our writalways considered as depending on their deriva- ten language to comply with the corruptions of tion, and have therefore referred them to their oral utterance, or copy that which every variaoriginal languages; thus I write enchant, en- tion of time or place makes different from itself, chantment, enchanter, after the French, and in- and imitate those changes, which will again be cantation after the Latin : thus entire is chosen changed, while imitation is employed in observrather than intire, because it passed to us not ing them. from the Latin integer, but from the French
This recommendation of steadiness and anienlier.
formity does not proceed from an opinion that Of many words it is difficult to say whether particular combinations of letters have much inthey were immediately received from the Latin Auence on human happiness; or that truth may or the French, since at the time when we had not be successfully taught by modes of spelling dominions in France, we had Latin service in fanciful and erroneous; I am not yet so lost in our churches. It is, however, my opinion, that lexicography as to forget that words are the the French generally supplied us; for we have daughters of earth, and that things are the sons of few Latin words, among the terms of domestic heaven. Language is only the instrument of use, which are not French; but many French, science, and words are but the signs of ideas; I which are very remote from Latin.
wish, however, that the instrument might be less Even in words of which the derivation is ap- apt to decay, and that signs might be permaparent, I have been often obliged to sacrifice nent, like the things which they denote. uniformity to custom ; thus I write, in compli In settling the orthography, I have not wholly ance with a numberless majority, convey and neglected the pronunciation, which I have diinveigh, deceit and receipt, fancy and phantom ; rected, by printing an accent upon the acute or sometimes the derivative varies from the primi- elevated syllable. It will sometimes be found tive, as explain and explanation, repeat and repe- that the accent is placed, by the author quoted, tition.
on a different syllable from that marked in the Some combinations of letters having the same alphabetical series; it is then to be understood, power are used indifferently without any dis- that custom has varied, or that the author has, coverable reason of choice, as in chouk, choke; in my opinion, pronounced wrong. Short din sonp, sope ; fewel, fuel, and many others; which rections are sometimes given where the sound I have sometiines inserted twice, that those who of letters is irregular; and if they are sometimes search for them under either form, may not search omitted, defect in such minute observations will in vain.
be more easily excused, than superfluity. In examining the orthography of any doubt. In the investigation both of the orthography ful word, the mode of spelling by which it is and signification of words, their Etymology was inserted in the series of the dictionary, is to be necessarily to be considered, and they were considered as that to which I give, perhaps not therefore to be divided into primitives and derioften rashly, the preference. I have left, in the vatives. A primitive word, is that which can be examples, to every author his own practice un- traced no further to any English root; thue molested, that the reader may balance sufirages, circumspect, circumvent, circumstance, delude, and judge between us; but this question is not concave, and complicate, though compounds in always to be determined by reputed or by real the Latin, are to us primitives. Derivatives, are learning; some men, intent upon greater things, all those that can be referred to any word in have thought little on sounds and derivations ; English of greater simplicity. some, knowing in the ancient tongues, have ne The derivatives I have referred to their priglected those in which our words are commonly mitives, with an accuracy sometimes needless ; to be sought. Thus Hammond writes fecibleness for who does not see that remoteness comes from for feasibleness, because I suppose he' imagined remote, lovely from love, concavily from concave, it derived immediately from the Latin ; and and demonstrative from demonstrate ? But this some words, such as dependant, dependent; depen- grammatical exuberance the scheme of my work dance, dependence, vary their final syllable, as one did not allow me to repress. It is of great imor other language is present to the writer. portance, in examining the general fabric of a