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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 even in the best writers; as in Pope,
-in endless error hurl'd.
'Tis these that early taint the female soul.
Attend to what a lesser muse incites.
And in Dryden:
A dreadful quiet felt, and worser far
If this part of the work can be well performed, it will be equivalent to the proposal made by Boileau to the academicians, that they should review all their polite writers, and correct such impurities as might be found in them, that their authority might not contribute, at any distant time, to the depravation of the language.
With regard to questions of purity or propriety, I was once in doubt whether I should not attribute too much to myself in attempting to decide them, and whether my province was to ex end beyond the proposition of the question, and the display of the suffrages on each side; but I have been since determined, by your Lordship's opinion, to interpose my own judgment, and shail therefore endeavour to support what appears to me most consonant to grammar and reason. Ausonius thought that modesty forbad him to plead inability for a task to which Cæsar had judged him equal.
Cur me posse negem, posse quod ille putat? And I may hope, my Lord, that since you, whose authority in our language is so generally acknowledged, have commissioned me to declare my own opinion, I shall be considered as exercising a kind of vicarious jurisdiction, and that the power which might have been denied to my own claim, will be readily allowed me as the delegate of your Lordship.
In citing authorities, on which the credit of every part of this Work must depend, it will be poper to observe some obvious rules: such as of preferring writers of the first reputation to those of an inferior rank; of noting the quotations with accuracy; and of selecting, when it can be conveniently done, such sentences as, besides their immediate use, may give pleasure or instruction, by conveying some elegance of language, or some precept of prudence, or piety. It has been asked, on some occasions, who shall judge the judges? And since, with regard to this design, a question may arise by what authority the authorities are selected, it is necessary to obviate it, by declaring that many of the writers whose testimonies will be alleged, were selected by Mr. Pope; of whom I may be justified in affirming, that were he still alive, solicitous as he was for the success of this work, he would not be displeased that I have under
-The mountain oak
By this method every word will have its history, and the reader will be inferined of the gradual changes of the language and have before his eyes the rise of some words, and the fall of others. But observations so minute and accurate are to be desired, rather than expected; and if use be carefully supplied, curiosity inust sometimes bear its disappointments.
This, my Lord, is my idea of an English Dictionary; a dictionary by which the pronunciation of our language may be fixed, and its attainment facilitated; by which its purity may be preserved, its use ascertained, and its duration lengthened. And though, perhaps, to correct the language of nations by books of grammar, and amend their manners by discourses of morality, may be tasks equally difficult; yet, as it is unavoidable to wish, it is natural likewise to hope that your Lordship's patronage may not be wholly lost; that it may contribute to the preservation of ancient, and the improvement of modern writers; that it may promote the reformation of those translators, who, for want of understanding the characteristical difference of tongues, have formed a chaotic dialect of heterogeneous phrases; and awaken to the care of purer diction some men of genius, whose attention to argument makes them negligent of style, or whose rapid imagination, like the Peruvian torrents, when it brings down gold mingles it with sand.
When I survey the Plan which I have laid before you, I cannot, my Lord, but confess, that I am frighted at its extent, and, like the soldiers of Cæsar, look on Britain as a new world, which it is almost madness to invade. But I hope, that though I should not complete the conquest, I shall at least discover the coast, civilize part of the inhabitants, and make it easy for some other adventurer to proceed farther, to reduce them wholly to subjection, and settle them under laws.
We are taught by the great Roman orator, that every man should propose to himself the highest degree of excellence, but that he may stop with honour at the second or third: though therefore my performance should fall below the excellence of other dictionaries, I may obtain, at least, the praise of having endeavoured well; nor shall I think it any reproach to my dili gence, that I have retired without a triumph, from a contest with united academies, and long successions of learned compilers. I cannot hope, in the warmest moments, to preserve so much caution through so long a work as not often to sink into negligence, or to obtain so much knowledge of all its parts as not frequently to fall by ignorance. I expect that sometimes the desire of accuracy will urge me to superfluities, and 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 admitted 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
means of avoiding it, and the extent of art with the capacity of man; and whatever be the event
of my endeavours, I shall not easily regret an
publicly, My Lord, Your Lordship's most obedient and most humble servant, SAM. JOHNSON.
IT is the fate of those who toil at the lower employments of life, to be rather driven by the fear of evil, than attracted by the prospect of good; to be exposed to censure, without hope of praise; to be disgraced by miscarriage, or punished for neglect, where success would have been without applause, and diligence without reward.
tion were continually increasing; and analogy, which, though in some words obscure, was evident in others.
In adjusting the Orthography, which has been to this time unsettled and fortuitous, I found it necessary to distinguish those irregularities that are inherent in our tongue, and perhaps coeval 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 pupil, but the slave of science, the pioneer of literature, doomed only to remove rubbish and clear obstructions from the paths through which Learning and Genius press forward to conquest and glory, without bestowing a smile on the humble drudge that facilitates their progress. Every other author may aspire to praise; the lexicographer can only hope to escape reproach, and even this negative recompense has been yet granted to very few.
I have, notwithstanding this discouragement, attempted a Dictionary of the English Language, which, while it was employed in the cultivation of every species of literature, has itself been hitherto neglected; suffered to spread under the direction of chance, into wild exuberance; resigned to the tyranny of time and fashion and exposed to the corruptions of ignorance and caprices of innovation.
venient, and in themselves once unnecessary, must be tolerated among the imperfections of human things, and which require only to be registered, that they may not be increased, and ascertained that they may not be confounded; but every language has likewise its improprie ties and absurdities, which it is the duty of the lexicographer to correct or proscribe.
As language was at its beginning merely oral, all words of necessary or common use were spoken before they were written; and while they were unfixed by any visible signs, must have been spoken with great diversity, as we now observe those who cannot read to catch sounds imperfectly, and utter them negligently. When this wild and barbarous jargon was first reduced to an alphabet, every penman endea voured to express, as he could, the sounds which 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 was to be made out of boundless variety, without any established principle of selection; adulterations were to be detected, without a settled test of purity; and modes of expression to be rejected or received, without the suffrages of any writers of classical reputation or acknowledged authority.
therefore different hands would exhibit the same sound by different combinations.
From this uncertain pronunciation arise in a great part the various dialects of the same country, which will always be observed to grow fewer, and less different, as books are multiplied; and from this arbitrary representation of sounds by 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 our writers; and noting whatever might be of use to ascertain or illustrate any word or phrase, accumulated in time the materials of a dictionary, which, by degrees, I reduced to method, establishing to myself, in the progress of the work, such rules as experience and analogy suggested to me; experience, which practice and observa
first books of every nation, which perplexes or destroys analogy, and produces anomalous formations, which, being once incorporated, can never be afterwards dismissed or reformed.
Of this kind are the derivatives length from long, strength from strong, darling from dear, breadth from broad, from dry, drought, and from high, height, which Milton, in zeal for analogy,
writes highth: Quid te exempta jupinis de pluribus una? to change all would be te auch, and to change one is nothing.
In this part of the work, where caprice has long wantoned without control, and vanity sought praise by petty reformation, I have en
This uncertainty is most frequent in the vow-deavoured to proceed with a scholar's reverence els, which are so capriciously pronounced, and so differently modified, by accident or affectation, not only in every province, but in every mouth, that to them, as is well known to etymologists, little regard is to be shown in the deduction of one language from another.
Such defects are not errors in orthography, but spots of barbarity impressed so deep in the English language, that criticism can never wash them away; these therefore must be permitted to remain untouched; but many words have likewise been altered by accident, or depraved by ignorance, as the pronunciation of the vulgar has been weakly followed; and some still continue to be variously written, as authors differ in their care or skill: of these it was proper to inquire the true orthography, which I have always considered as depending on their derivation, and have therefore referred them to their original languages; thus I write enchant, enchantment, enchanter, after the French, and incantation after the Latin: thus entire is chosen rather than intire, because it passed to us not from the Latin integer, but from the French
Of many words it is difficult to say whether they were immediately received from the Latin or the French, since at the time when we had dominions in France, we had Latin service in our churches. It is, however, my opinion, that the French generally supplied us; for we have few Latin words, among the terms of domestic use, which are not French; but many French, which are very remote from Latin.
Even in words of which the derivation is apparent, I have been often obliged to sacrifice uniformity to custom; thus I write, in compliance with a numberless majority, convey and inveigh, deceit and receipt, fancy and phantom; sometimes the derivative varies from the primitive, as explain and explanation, repeat and repe
Some combinations of letters having the same power are used indifferently without any discoverable reason of choice, as in choak, choke; soap, sope; fewe!, fuel, and many others; which I have sometimes inserted twice, that those who search for them under either form, may not search in vain.
In examining the orthography of any doubtful word, the mode of spelling by which it is inserted in the series of the dictionary, is to be considered as that to which I give, perhaps not often rashly, the preference. I have left, in the examples, to every author his own practice unmolested, that the reader may balance suffrages, an judge between us; but this question is not always to be determined by reputed or by real learning; some men, intent upon greater things, have thought little on sounds and derivations; some, knowing in the ancient tongues, have neglected those in which our words are commonly to be sought. Thus Hammond writes fecibleness for feasibleness, because I suppose he imagined it derived immediately from the Latin; and some words, such as dependant, dependent; dependance, dependence, vary their final syllable, as one or other language is present to the writer.
for antiquity, and a grammarian's regard to the genius of our tongue. I have attempted few alterations, and among those few, perhaps the greater part is from the modern to the ancient practice; and I hope I may be allowed to recommend to those, whose thoughts have been perhaps employed too anxiously on verbal singularities, not to disturb, upon narrow views, or for minute propriety, the orthography of their fathers. It has been asserted, that for the law to be known, is of more importance than to be right. "Change," says Hooker, "is not made without inconvenience, even from worse to better." There is in constancy and stability a general and lasting advantage, which will always overbalance the slow improvements of gradual correction. Much less ought our written language to comply with the corruptions of oral utterance, or copy that which every variation of time or place makes different from itself, and imitate those changes, which will again be changed, while imitation is employed in observing them.
This recommendation of steadiness and uniformity does not proceed from an opinion that particular combinations of letters have much influence on human happiness; or that truth may not be successfully taught by modes of spelling fanciful and erroneous; I am not yet so lost in lexicography as to forget that words are the daughters of earth, and that things are the sons of heaven. Language is only the instrument of science, and words are but the signs of ideas; I wish, however, that the instrument might be less apt to decay, and that signs might be permanent, like the things which they denote.
In settling the orthography, I have not wholly neglected the pronunciation, which I have directed, by printing an accent upon the acute or elevated syllable. It will sometimes be found that the accent is placed, by the author quoted, on a different syllable from that marked in the alphabetical series; it is then to be understood, that custom has varied, or that the author has, in my opinion, pronounced wrong. Short directions are sometimes given where the sound of letters is irregular; and if they are sometimes omitted, defect in such minute observations will be more easily excused, than superfluity.
In the investigation both of the orthography and signification of words, their Etymology was necessarily to be considered, and they were therefore to be divided into primitives and derivatives. A primitive word, is that which can be traced no further to any English root; thus circumspect, circumvent, circumstance, delude, concave, and complicate, though compounds in the Latin, are to us primitives. Derivatives, are all those that can be referred to any word in English of greater simplicity.
The derivatives I have referred to their primitives, with an accuracy sometimes needless; for who does not see that remoteness comes from remote, lovely from love, concavity from concave, and demonstrative from demonstrate? But this grammatical exuberance the scheme of my work did not allow me to repress. It is of great importance, in examining the general fabric of a
language, to trace one word from another, by noting the usual modes of derivation and inflection; and uniformity must be preserved in systematical works; though sometimes at the expense of particular propriety.
Among other derivatives I have been careful to insert and elucidate the anomalous plurals of nouns and preterites of verbs, which in the Teutonic dialects are very frequent, and, though familiar to those who have always used them, interrupt and embarrass the learners of our language.
The two languages from which our primitives have been derived are the Roman and Teutonic: under the Roman I comprehend the French and provincial tongues; and under the Teutonic range the Saxon, German, and all their kindred dialects. Most of our polysyllables are Roman, and our words of one syllable are very often Teutonic.
In assigning the Roman original, it has perhaps sometimes happened that I have mentioned only the Latin, when the word was borrowed from the French; and considering myself as employed only in the illustration of my own language, I have not been very careful to observe whether the Latin word be pure or barbarous, or the French elegant or obsolete.
For the Teutonic etymologies, I am commonly indebted to Junius and Skinner, the only names which I have forborne to quote when I copied their books; not that I might appropriate their labours or usurp their honours, but that I might spare a perpetual repetition by one general acknowledgment. Of these, whom I ought not to mention but with the reverence due to instructors and benefactors, Junius appears to have excelled in extent of learning, and Skinner in rectitude of understanding. Junius was accurately skilled in all the northern languages, Skinner probably examined the ancient and remoter dialects only by occasional inspection into dictionaries; but the learning of Junius is often of no other use than to show him a track by which he may deviate from his purpose, to which Skinner always presses forward by the shortest way. Skinner is often ignorant, but never ridiculous: Junius is always full of knowledge; but his variety distracts his judgment, and his learning is very frequently disgraced by his ab
The votaries of the northern muses will not perhaps easily restrain their indignation, when they find the name of Junius thus degraded by a disadvantageous comparison; but whatever reverence is due to his diligence, or his attainments, it can be no criminal degree of censoriousness to charge that etymologist with want of judgment, who can seriously derive dream from drama, because life is a drama, and a drama is a dream; and who declares with a tone of defiance, that no man can fail to derive moan from povos, monos, single or solitary, who considers, that grief naturally loves to be alone.*
That I may not appear to have spoken too irreverently of Junius, I have here subjoined a few speciinens of his etymological extravagance. BANISH, religare, ex banno vel territorio exigere, in exilium agere. G. bannir. It. band re, bandeg. giare. H. bandir. B. bannen. Evi medii scriptores bannire dicebant. V. Spelm. in Bannum et in Banleuga. Quoniam verò regionem urbiumq; limites arduis plerumq; montibus, altis fluminibus, longis
Our knowledge of the northern literature is so scanty, that of words undoubtedly Teutonic, the original is not always to be found in any ancient language; and I have therefore inserted Dutch or German substitutes, which I consider not as radical, but parallel, not as the parents, but sisters of the English.
The words which are represented as thus related by descent or cognation, do not always agree in sense; for it is incident to words, as to their authors, to degenerate from their ancestors, and to change their manners when they change their country. It is sufficient, in etymological inquiries, if the senses of kindred words be found such as may easily pass into each other, or such as may both be referred to one general idea.
The etymology, so far as it is yet known, was easily found in the volumes, where it is particularly and professedly delivered; and, by proper attention to the rules of derivation, the orthography was soon adjusted. But to collect the Words of our language, was a task of greater difficulty: the deficiency of dictionaries was immediately apparent; and when they were exhausted, what was yet wanting must be sought by fortuitous and unguided excursions into books, and gleaned as industry should find, or chance should offer it, in the boundless chaos of a living speech. My search, however, has been either skilful or lucky; for I have much augmented the vocabulary.
As my design was a dictionary, common or appellative, I have omitted all words which have relation to proper names; such as Arian, Socinian, Calvinist, Benedictine, Mahometan; but have retained those of a more general nature, as Heathen, Pagan.
Of the terms of art I have received such as could be found either in books of science or technical dictionaries; and have often inserted, from philosophical writers, words which are supported perhaps only by a single authority, and which being not admitted into general use, stand yet as candidates or probationers, and must depend for their adoption on the suffrage of futurity.
The words which our authors have introduced by their knowledge of foreign languages, or ig
deniq; flexuosisq; angustissimarum viarum amfrac
tibus includebantur, fieri potest id genus limites das sicuti tradit Hesychius, vocabantur el col kai py lovtivis dici ab eo quod Bavvaras et Bávaroo Tarentinis olim, ol, obliquæ ac minimè in rectum tendentes vie." Ac fortasse quoque huc facit quod Bavos, eodem Hesychia teste, dicebant 6on Grayyein, montes arduos.
scio an sint ab ip to vel perato. Vomo, evomo, vomitu EMPTY, emtie, vacuus, inanis. A. S. Emtig. Neevacuo. Videtur interim etymologiam hanc non obscurè firmare codex Rush. Mat. xii. 44, ubi antiquè scriptum invenimus, A. S. gemoeted hit emetig.
HILL, mons, collis. A. S. hyll. Quod videri potest abscissum ex kovŋ vel kolvós. Collis, tumulus, locus in plano editior. Hom. II. P. v. 811, TI TIS POTO os alusta kodwvŋ. Ubi authori brevium scholiorum
κολωνη exp. τόπος εἰς ύψος ἀνήκων γεωλογος έξοχη
NAP, to take a nap. Dormire, condormiscere. Cym, heppian. A. S. hnappan. Quod postremum videri potest desumptum ex kipas, obscuritas, tenebræ nihil enim que solet conciliare somnum, quàm caliginosa profunda noctis obscuritas.
STAMMERER, balbus, blesus. Goth. STAMMS. A S. stamer, stamur. D. stam. B. stameler. Isl. stamr. Sunt a eropvity vel oravka, nimis loqua citate alios offendere; quod impedite loquentes libentis sime garrire soleant; vel quòd aliis nimii semper videas tur, etiam parcissimè loquentes
norance of their own, by vanity or wantonness, by compliance with fashion or lust of innovation, I have registered as they occurred, though commonly only to censure them, and warn others against the folly of naturalizing useless foreigners to the injury of the natives.
I have not rejected any by design, merely because they were unnecessary or exuberant; but have received those which by different writers have been differently formed, as viscid, and viscidity, viscous, and viscosity.
Compounded or double words I have seldom noted, except when they obtain a signification different from that which the components have in their simple state. Thus highwayman, woodman, and horsecourser, require an explanation; but of thieflike, or coachdriver, no notice was needed, because the primitives contain the meaning of the compounds.
many verbs by a particle subjoined; as to come off, to escape by a fetch; to fall on, to attack; to fall off, to apostatize; to break off, to stop abruptly; to bear out, to justify; to fall in, to comply; to give over, to cease; to set off, to embellish; to set in, to begin a continual tenor; to set out, to begin a course or journey; to take off, to copy; with innumerable expressions of the same kind, of which some appear wildly irregular, being so far distant from the sense of the simple words, that no sagacity will be able to trace the steps by which they arrived at the present use. These I have noted with great care; and though I cannot flatter myself that the collection is complete, I believe I have so far assisted the students of our language that this kind of phraseology will be no longer insuperable; and the combinations of verbs and particles, by chance omitted, will be easily explained by comparison with those that may be found.
Words arbitrarily formed by a constant and settled analogy, like diminutive adjectives in ish, Many words yet stand supported only by the as greenish, bluish; adverbs in ly, as dully, name of Bailey, Ainsworth, Philips, or the conopenly; substantives in ness, as vileness, faulti-tracted Dict. for Dictionaries, subjoined; of these ness; were less diligently sought, and many sometimes have been omitted, when I had no authority that invited me to insert them; not that they are not genuine and regular offsprings of English roots, but because their relation to the primitive being always the same, their signification cannot be mistaken.
The verbal nouns in ing, such as the keeping of the castle, the leading of the army, are always neglected, or placed only to illustrate the sense of the verb, except when they signify things as well as actions, and have therefore a plural number, as dwelling, living; or have an absolute and abstract signification, as colouring, painting, learning.
The participles are likewise omitted, unless, by signifying rather habit or quality than action, they take the nature of adjectives, as a thinking man, a man of prudence; a pacing horse, a horse that can pace: these I have ventured to call participial adjectives. But neither are these always inserted, because they are commonly to be understood without any danger of mistake, by consulting the verb.
I am not always certain that they are read in any book but the works of lexicographers. Of such I have omitted many, because I had never read them; and many I have inserted, because they may perhaps exist, though they have escap ed my notice: they are, however, to be yet considered as resting only upon the credit of former dictionaries. Others, which I considered as useful, or know to be proper, though I could not at present support them by authorities, I have suffered to stand upon my own attestation, claiming the same privilege with my predecessors, of being sometimes credited without proof.
The words, thus selected and disposed, are grammatically considered; they are referred to the different parts of speech; traced when they are irregularly inflected, through their various terminations; and illustrated by observations, not indeed of great or striking importance, separately considered, but necessary to the elucidation of our language, and hitherto neglected or forgotten by English grammarians.
That part of my work on which I expect malignity most frequently to fasten, is the explanaObsolete words are admitted when they are tion; in which I cannot hope to satisfy those found in authors not obsolete, or when they who are perhaps not inclined to be pleased, since have any force or beauty that may deserve re-I have not always been able to satisfy myself. vival. To interpret a language by itself, is very diffi As composition is one of the chief character-cult; many words cannot be explained by syistics of a language, I have endeavoured to make some reparation for the universal negligence of my predecessors, by inserting great numbers of compounded words, as may be found under after, fore, new, night, fair, and many more. These, numerous as they are, might be multiplied, but that use and curiosity are here satisfied, and the frame of our language and modes of our combination amply discovered.
nonymes, because the idea signified by them has not more than one appellation; nor by paraphrase, because simple ideas cannot be described. When the nature of things is unknown, or the notion unsettled and indefinite, and various in various minds, the words by which such notions are conveyed, or such things denoted, will be ambiguous and perplexed. And such is the fate of hapless lexicography, that not only darkness, Of some forms of composition, such as that by but light, impedes and distresses it; things may which re is prefixed to note repetition, and un to be not only too little, but too much known, to be signify contrariety or privation, all the examples happily illustrated. To explain, requires the cannot be accumulated, because the use of these use of terms less abstruse than that which is to particles, if not wholly arbitrary, is so little limit-be explained, and such terms cannot always be ed, that they are hourly affixed to new words as occasion requires, or is imagined to require them. There is another kind of composition more frequent in our language than perhaps in any other, from which arises to foreigners the greatest difficulty. We modify the signification of
found; for as nothing can be proved but by supposing something intuitively known, and evident without proof, so nothing can be defined but by the use of words too plain to admit a definition.
Other words there are, of which the sense in too subtle and evanescent to be fixed in a para