Merriam-Webster Parent company Encyclopædia Britannica Founder Noah Webster Country of origin United States Publication types Books Official website m-w.com
Merriam–Webster, which was originally the G. & C. Merriam Company of Springfield, Massachusetts, is an American company that publishes reference books, especially dictionaries that are descendants of Noah Webster’s An American Dictionary of the English Language (1828).
In 1806, Noah Webster published his first dictionary, A Compendious Dictionary of the English Language. In 1807 Webster began compiling an expanded and fully comprehensive dictionary, An American Dictionary of the English Language; it took 27 years to complete. To evaluate the etymology of words, Webster learned 26 languages, including Old English (Anglo-Saxon), German, Greek, Latin, Italian, Spanish, French, Hebrew, Arabic, and Sanskrit. Webster hoped to standardize American speech, since Americans in different parts of the country used different languages. They also spelled, pronounced, and used English words differently.
Webster completed his dictionary during his year abroad in 1825 in Paris, France, and at the University of Cambridge. His book contained 70,000 words, of which 12,000 had never appeared in a published 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, like "skunk" and "squash", that did not appear in British dictionaries. At the age of 70, Webster published his dictionary in 1828; it sold 2,500 copies. In 1840, the second edition was published in two volumes.
Austin (2005) explores the intersection of lexicographical and poetic practices in American literature, and attempts to map out a "lexical poetics" using Webster's dictionaries as a base. He shows the ways in which American poetry has inherited Webster ideas and has drawn upon his lexicography in order to develop the language. Austin explicates key definitions from both the Compendious (1806) and American (1828) dictionaries, and brings into its discourse a range of concerns, including the politics of American English, the question of national identity and culture in the early moments of American independence, and the poetics of citation and of definition. Webster's dictionaries were a redefinition of Americanism within the context of an emergent and unstable American socio-political and cultural identity. Webster's identification of his project as a "federal language" shows his competing impulses towards regularity and innovation in historical terms. Perhaps the contradictions of Webster's project comprised part of a larger dialectical play between liberty and order within Revolutionary and post-Revolutionary political debates.
Merriam as publisher
In 1843, after Noah Webster's death, George 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 much 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 known as "Unabridged", which became increasingly as much "Merriam" as "Webster."
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." Merriam overhauled the dictionary again with the 1961 "Webster's Third New International" under the direction of Philip B. Gove, making changes which sparked public controversy. (For more details on these dictionaries, see Webster's Dictionary.)
The "Collegiate Dictionary" series was initiated in 1898. Since the 1940s, the company has added many specialized dictionaries, language aides, and other references to its repertoire.
The G. & C. Merriam Company lost its right to exclusive use of the name "Webster" after a series of lawsuits placed it in public domain. Its name was changed to Merriam–Webster Inc. with the publication of Webster's Ninth New Collegiate Dictionary in 1983. 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.
As of 2003, the company's two best known dictionaries were:
- Webster's Third New International Dictionary, Unabridged, the most complete current non-specialist American dictionary of English. It is also an application for the iPhone and iPod touch, and Android.
- Merriam–Webster's Collegiate Dictionary, Eleventh Edition, the largest and most popular college dictionary, which is available in CD-ROM format for use on personal computers. The company's online dictionary is based on the Collegiate Dictionary. It is also an application for the iPhone and iPod touch, Android and BlackBerry.
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 14, 2007 Merriam–Webster announced it was working with mobile search and information provider AskMeNow to launch a mobile dictionary and thesaurus service enabling consumers 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 promising 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 which permitted people from various parts of the US to learn how to pronounce new words as others who spoke with the same accent or dialect did. But Unicode did not specify room for these characters in their list. To enable a variety of computer systems to access the pronunciation, the online services of Merriam–Webster specify a less-specific use of ASCII characters, which should not be confused with the former print fonts.
- ^ "About Charles Merriam". wbrookfieldlibrary.org. http://www.wbrookfieldlibrary.org/charles.html. Retrieved 2010-02-04.
- ^ "Merriam-Webster dictionary". britannica.com. http://www.britannica.com/EBchecked/topic/376313/Merriam-Webster-Inc.
- ^ Nathan W. Austin, "Lost in the Maze of Words: Reading and Re-reading Noah Webster's Dictionaries," Dissertation Abstracts International, 2005, Vol. 65 Issue 12, p. 4561
- ^ Merriam-Webster, merriam-webster.com, Timeline: Merriam-Webster Milestones, http://www.merriam-webster.com/info/timeline-large.html, retrieved 2009-03-20
- ^ Merriam-Webster, merriam-webster.com, Merriam-Webster FAQ, http://www.merriam-webster.com/info/faq.htm, retrieved 2009-03-20
- ^ "Merriam-Webster Dictionaries for iPhone and iPod touch". merriam-webster.com. http://www.merriam-webster.com/store/iphone/collegiate/.
- ^ "Merriam-Webster dictionaries for Android". mobile-webster.com. http://www.mobile-webster.com/Android.html.
- ^ "Merriam-Webster dictionaries for BlackBerry". mobile-webster.com. http://www.mobile-webster.com/Blackberry.html.
- Merriam-Webster Online
- G. & C. Merriam Company Collection, Amherst College Archives and Special Collections
Webby Awards AwardNominee, 1998 award in the category Print+Zines Awards ceremonies
Wikimedia Foundation. 2010.
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Merriam-Webster — Merriam–Webster Inc. (hasta 1982 conocido como G. C. Merriam Company ) de Springfield, Massachusetts, es una editorial estadounidense. Publica libros de referencia, sobre todo diccionarios, que tienen su origen en el An American Dictionary of… … Wikipedia Español
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Merriam-Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary — (verkürzend auch Webster’s Dictionary oder (Merriam )Webster) ist ein im englischsprachigen Raum (vor allem den USA) sehr bekanntes und häufig verwendetes Wörterbuch. Es enthält eine gekürzte Fassung des Webster’s New International Dictionary,… … Deutsch Wikipedia
Merriam–Webster's Dictionary of English Usage — is a usage dictionary published by Merriam Webster, Inc., of Springfield, Massachusetts. It is currently available in a reprint edition (1994) ISBN 0 87779 132 5 or ISBN 978 0877791324. (The 1989 edition did not include Merriam– in the title. It… … Wikipedia
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Merriam Webster's Dictionary of English Usage — is a style guide in dictionary form published by Merriam Webster, Inc., of Springfield, Massachusetts. It is currently available in a reprint edition (1994) ISBN 0 87779 132 5 or ISBN 978 0877791324. It is critically acclaimed by linguist… … Wikipedia
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