|Parent company||Encyclopædia Britannica|
|Founder||George Merriam, Charles Merriam|
|Country of origin||United States|
|Headquarters location||Springfield, Massachusetts|
|Publication types||Reference books, online dictionaries|
|Owner(s)||Britannica (Jacqui Safra)|
|Official website|| merriam-webster|
Merriam-Webster, Inc., is an American company that publishes reference books and is especially known for its dictionaries.
In 1831, George and Charles Merriam founded the company as G & C Merriam Co. in Springfield, Massachusetts. In 1843, after Noah Webster died, the company bought the rights to An American Dictionary of the English Language from Webster's estate. All Merriam-Webster dictionaries trace their lineage to this source.
In 1964, Encyclopædia Britannica, Inc., acquired Merriam-Webster, Inc., as a subsidiary. The company adopted its current name in 1982.
In 1806, Webster published his first dictionary, A Compendious Dictionary of the English Language. In 1807 Webster started two decades of intensive work to expand his publication into a fully comprehensive dictionary, An American Dictionary of the English Language. To help him trace the etymology of words, Webster learned 26 languages. Webster hoped to standardize American speech, since Americans in different parts of the country used somewhat different vocabularies and spelled, pronounced, and used words differently.
Webster completed his dictionary during his year abroad in 1825 in Paris, and at the University of Cambridge. His 1820s book contained 70,000 words, of which about 12,000 had never appeared in a dictionary before. As a spelling reformer, Webster believed that English spelling rules were unnecessarily complex, so his dictionary introduced American English spellings, replacing colour with color, waggon with wagon, and centre with center. He also added American words, including skunk and squash , that did not appear in British dictionaries. At the age of 70 in 1828, Webster published his dictionary; it sold poorly, with only 2,500 copies, and put him in debt. However, in 1840, he published the second edition in two volumes with much greater success.
In 1843, after Webster's death, George Merriam and Charles Merriam secured publishing and revision rights to the 1840 edition of the dictionary. They published a revision in 1847, which did not change any of the main text but merely added new sections, and a second update with illustrations in 1859. In 1864, Merriam published a greatly expanded edition, which was the first version to change Webster's text, largely overhauling his work yet retaining many of his definitions and the title "An American Dictionary". This began a series of revisions that were described as being "unabridged" in content. In 1884 it contained 118,000 words, "3000 more than any other English dictionary".
With the edition of 1890, the dictionary was retitled Webster's International. The vocabulary was vastly expanded in Webster's New International editions of 1909 and 1934, totaling over half a million words, with the 1934 edition retrospectively called Webster's Second International or simply "The Second Edition" of the New International.
The Collegiate Dictionary was introduced in 1898 and the series is now in its eleventh edition. Following the publication of Webster's International in 1890, two Collegiate editions were issued as abridgments of each of their Unabridged editions. Merriam overhauled the dictionary again with the 1961 Webster's Third New International under the direction of Philip B. Gove, making changes that sparked public controversy. Many of these changes were in formatting, omitting needless punctuation, or avoiding complete sentences when a phrase was sufficient. Others, more controversial, signaled a shift from linguistic prescriptivism and towards describing American English as it was used at that time.
With the ninth edition (Webster's Ninth New Collegiate Dictionary (WNNCD), published in 1983), the Collegiate adopted changes which distinguish it as a separate entity rather than merely an abridgment of the Third New International (the main text of which has remained virtually unrevised since 1961). Some proper names were returned to the word list, including names of Knights of the Round Table. The most notable change was the inclusion of the date of the first known citation of each word, to document its entry into the English language. The eleventh edition (published in 2003) includes more than 225,000 definitions, and more than 165,000 entries. A CD-ROM of the text is sometimes included. This dictionary is preferred as a source "for general matters of spelling" by the influential The Chicago Manual of Style , which is followed by many book publishers and magazines in the United States. The Chicago Manual states that it "normally opts for" the first spelling listed.
The G. & C. Merriam Company lost its right to exclusive use of the name "Webster" after a series of lawsuits placed that name in public domain. Its name was changed to "Merriam-Webster, Incorporated", with the publication of Webster's Ninth New Collegiate Dictionary in 1983. Previous publications had used "A Merriam-Webster Dictionary" as a subtitle for many years and will be found on older editions.
Since the 1940s, the company has added many specialized dictionaries, language aides, and other references to its repertoire. The company has been a subsidiary of Encyclopædia Britannica, Inc. since 1964.
In 1996, Merriam-Webster launched its first website, which provided free access to an online dictionary and thesaurus.
Merriam-Webster has also published dictionaries of synonyms, English usage, geography ( Merriam-Webster's Geographical Dictionary ), biography, proper names, medical terms, sports terms, slang, Spanish/English, and numerous others. Non-dictionary publications include Collegiate Thesaurus, Secretarial Handbook, Manual for Writers and Editors, Collegiate Encyclopedia, Encyclopedia of Literature, and Encyclopedia of World Religions.
On February 16, 2007, Merriam-Webster announced the launch of a mobile dictionary and thesaurus service developed with mobile search-and-information provider AskMeNow. Consumers use the service to access definitions, spelling and synonyms via text message. Services also include Merriam-Webster's Word of the Day—and Open Dictionary, a wiki service that provides subscribers the opportunity to create and submit their own new words and definitions.
The Merriam-Webster company once used a unique set of phonetic symbols in their dictionaries—intended to help people from different parts of the United States learn how to pronounce words the same way as others who spoke with the same accent or dialect did. Unicode accommodated IPA symbols, but did not specify room for Merriam-Webster phonetics. Hence, to enable computerized access to the pronunciation without having to rework all dictionaries to IPA notation, the online services of Merriam-Webster specify phonetics using a less-specific set of ASCII characters.
Merriam creates entries by finding uses of a particular word in print and recording them in a database of citations.Editors at Merriam spend about an hour a day looking at print sources, from books and newspapers to less formal publications, like advertisements and product packaging, to study the uses of individual words and choose things that should be preserved in the citation file. Merriam-Webster's citation file contains more than 16 million entries documenting individual uses of words. Millions of these citations are recorded on 3-by-5 cards in their paper citation files. The earliest entries in the paper citation files date back to the late 19th century. Since 2009, all new entries are recorded in an electronic database.
A dictionary, sometimes known as a wordbook, is a collection of words in one or more specific languages, often arranged alphabetically, which may include information on definitions, usage, etymologies, pronunciations, translation, etc. or a book of words in one language with their equivalents in another, sometimes known as a lexicon. It is a lexicographical reference that shows inter-relationships among the data.
Noah Webster Jr. was an American lexicographer, textbook pioneer, English-language spelling reformer, political writer, editor, and prolific author. He has been called the "Father of American Scholarship and Education". His "Blue-backed Speller" books taught five generations of American children how to spell and read. Webster's name has become synonymous with "dictionary" in the United States, especially the modern Merriam-Webster dictionary that was first published in 1828 as An American Dictionary of the English Language.
Webster's Dictionary is any of the dictionaries edited by Noah Webster in the early nineteenth century, and numerous related or unrelated dictionaries that have adopted the Webster's name. "Webster's" has become a genericized trademark in the U.S. for dictionaries of the English language, and is widely used in English dictionary titles. Merriam-Webster is the corporate heir to Noah Webster's original works, which are in the public domain.
The American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language (AHD) is an American dictionary of English published by Boston publisher Houghton Mifflin, the first edition of which appeared in 1969. Its creation was spurred by the controversy over the perceived permissiveness of the Webster's Third New International Dictionary. The third edition had more than 350,000 entries and meanings.
The Macquarie Dictionary is a dictionary of Australian English. It is generally considered by universities and the legal profession to be the authoritative source on Australian English. It also pays considerable attention to New Zealand English. Originally it was a publishing project of Jacaranda Press, a Brisbane educational publisher, for which an editorial committee was formed, largely from the Linguistics department of Macquarie University in Sydney, Australia. It is now published by Macquarie Dictionary Publishers, an imprint of Pan Macmillan Australia Pty Ltd. In October 2007 it moved its editorial office from Macquarie University to the University of Sydney, and later to the Pan Macmillan offices in the Sydney central business district.
Joseph Emerson Worcester was an American lexicographer who was the chief competitor to Noah Webster of Webster's Dictionary in the mid-nineteenth-century. Their rivalry became known as the "dictionary wars". Worcester's dictionaries focused on traditional pronunciation and spelling, unlike Noah Webster's attempts to Americanize words. Worcester was respected by American writers and his dictionary maintained a strong hold on the American marketplace until a later, posthumous version of Webster's book appeared in 1864. After Worcester's death in 1865, their war ended.
Webster's New World Dictionary of the American Language is an American dictionary first published in 1951 and since 2012 published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt.
Random House Webster's Unabridged Dictionary is a large American dictionary, first published in 1966 as The Random House Dictionary of the English Language: The Unabridged Edition. Edited by Jess Stein, it contained 315,000 entries in 2256 pages, as well as 2400 illustrations. The CD-ROM version in 1994 also included 120,000 spoken pronunciations.
Many of the differences between American and British English date back to a time when spelling standards had not yet developed. For instance, some spellings seen as "American" today were once commonly used in Britain and some spellings seen as "British" were once commonly used in the United States. A "British standard" began to emerge following the 1755 publication of Samuel Johnson's A Dictionary of the English Language, and an "American standard" started following the work of Noah Webster and in particular his An American Dictionary of the English Language, first published in 1828.
Oxford spelling is a spelling standard that prescribes the use of British spelling in combination with the suffix -ize in words like realize and organization, in contrast to the predominant use of -ise endings in current British English.
Irregardless is a word sometimes used in place of regardless or irrespective, which has caused controversy since the early twentieth century, though the word appeared in print as early as 1795. Most dictionaries list it as non-standard or incorrect usage, and recommend that "regardless" should be used instead.
Webster's Third New International Dictionary of the English Language, Unabridged was published in September 1961. It was edited by Philip Babcock Gove and a team of lexicographers who spent 757 editor-years and $3.5 million. It contained more than 450,000 entries, including more than 100,000 new entries and as many new senses for entries carried over from previous editions.
A pronunciation respelling for English is a notation used to convey the pronunciation of words in the English language, which does not have a phonemic orthography.
The Official Scrabble Players Dictionary or OSPD is a dictionary developed for use in the game Scrabble, by speakers of American and Canadian English.
The lists of Merriam-Webster's Words of the Year are ten-word lists published annually by the American dictionary-publishing company Merriam-Webster, Inc., which feature the ten words of the year from the English language. These word lists started in 2003 and have been published at the end of each year. At first, Merriam-Webster determined its contents by analyzing page hits and popular searches on its website. Since 2006, the list has been determined by an online poll and by suggestions from visitors to the website.
Garner's Modern English Usage (GMEU), written by Bryan A. Garner and published by Oxford University Press, is a usage dictionary and style guide for contemporary Modern English. It was first published in 1998 as A Dictionary of Modern American Usage, with a focus on American English, which it retained for the next two editions as Garner's Modern American Usage (GMAU). It was expanded to cover English more broadly in the 2016 fourth edition, under the present title. The work covers issues of usage, pronunciation, and style, from distinctions among commonly confused words and phrases and notes on how to prevent verbosity and obscurity. In addition, it contains essays about the English language. An abridged version of the first edition was also published as The Oxford Dictionary of American Usage and Style in 2000.
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