Does Webster's Dictionary exist?
Thread poster: Edward Potter

Edward Potter  Identity Verified
Local time: 06:54
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Nov 18, 2008

The title of my post says it all.

We all know (of course) that Noah Webster was a pioneering linguist in the early 19th century, publishing important language books and his famous dictionary.

However, it seems that the claim to circulating Websters Dictionary belongs to various publishers. I just checked my big thick Webster's Encyclopedic Unabridged Dictionary of the English Language, and yep, it says it is published by Random House.

I know there is a Merriam-Webster version out there which apparently is the closest to authentic possible.

Can anyone shed some light onto this?

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Spiros Doikas  Identity Verified
Local time: 07:54
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This might help Nov 18, 2008

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Jim Tucker  Identity Verified
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Anyone can publish a dictionary under the name "Webster's" Nov 19, 2008

Any dictionary can be given the name "Webster's" - and most should be avoided. The name has been in the public domain since at least 1889, and possibly longer, depending on the legal interpretation you follow.

"Merriam-Webster" is a protected trademark on the other hand; these are usually usable dictionaries.

The above is not entirely what you were asking about; I doubt that you would want to use Webster's original dictionary today (any more than you would use Johnson's).

The modern version of Webster's most prized by scholars of English is the one that predates the current (third) one (I think - unless there's a fourth): the Webster's Second Unabridged of 1934, which is a highly regarded revision of a dictionary from around 1910.. Worth owning a copy if you can get your hands on one. They generally cost a couple hundred dollars, but worth every cent.

[Edited at 2008-11-19 02:22 GMT]

[Edited at 2008-11-19 02:24 GMT]

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Sofia Costa  Identity Verified
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The Rosetta Edition Nov 19, 2008

Hi everyone,

Follow this link

I use it all the time

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Does Webster's Dictionary exist?

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