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Samuel Johnson (1709-1784)


A person who writes, compiles, or edits a dictionary.

A lexicographer examines how words come into being and how they change in terms of pronunciation, spelling, usage, and meaning.

See also:

Examples and Observations:

  • Lexicographer. A writer of dictionaries; a harmless drudge, that busies himself in tracing the original and detailing the signification of words."
    (Samuel Johnson, A Dictionary of the English Language, 1755)

  • "Modern-day lexicography has produced convincing arguments in favour of a proscriptive approach (cf. Berenholtz 2003). Although it is possible to employ such an approach in printed dictionaries, it is an approach ideal for internet dictionaries. The proscriptive approach allows the lexicographer to present the user with a variety of options, e.g. different orthographic forms of a given word or different pronunciation possibilities. No single form is prescribed but the lexicographer indicates his or her preference by recommending one or more forms. By doing so the alternatives are not demonised but users get a clear indication of the form recommended by the expert."
    (Rufus H. Gouws, "Dictionaries as Innovative Tools in a New Perspective on Standardisation." Lexicography at a Crossroads: Dictionaries and Encyclopedias Today, Lexicographical Tools Tomorrow, ed. by Henning Bergenholtz, Sandro Nielsen, and Sven Tarp. Peter Lang, 2009)

  • "When we see men grow old and die at a certain time one after another, from century to century, we laugh at the elixir that promises to prolong life to a thousand years; and with equal justice may the lexicographer be derided, who being able to produce no example of a nation that has preserved their words and phrases from mutability, shall imagine that his dictionary can embalm his language, and secure it from corruption and decay . . .. The language most likely to continue long without alteration, would be that of a nation raised a little, and but a little, above barbarity, secluded from strangers, and totally employed in procuring the conveniences of life."
    (Samuel Johnson, Preface to A Dictionary of the English Language, 1755)
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