Although the term dictionarius was used by English writers as early as the thirteenth century, it described lists of Latin words and phrases. The first recorded use of dictionary in an English sentence took place in 1526, inreference to a book compiled by one Peter Bercharius in the fourteenth century: “And so Peter Bercharius in his dictionary describeth it.” In 1538 Sir Thomas Elyot published his Latin-English Dictionary — and the word dictionary, from the Latin dicere, “to say,” began appearing in book titles from then on. Most of the early dictionaries of the English language were restricted to difficult words.
The first all-inclusive dictionary of the English language was compiled by Dr. Samuel Johnson between 1747 and 1755. Although he thought of himself as a “harmless drudge,” he was not without humour, as evidenced by his definition of window: “an orifice in an edifice.” He included far more words than any lexicographer before him, but refused to include any vulgar terms.
The story goes that a pair of very proper ladies approached the great doctor at a literary tea and said, “We see, Dr. Johnson, that you do not have any naughty words in your dictionary.” To which he replied, “And I see, dear ladies, that you have been looking for them.” The greatest dictionary of all time got under way in the latter half of the nineteenth century in Oxford, England.

The first volume was released in 1884, the tenth in 1928, precisely forty-four years later. (One of the  original typesetters was still at work on it when the last volume was printed.) In 1933 it was reprinted as a twelve-volume set, and a supplementary volume was published. A second supplement, consisting of four volumes, came out between 1972 and 1986. A revised edition, running to 22,000 pages spread over twenty volumes and containing more than 615,000 words, was published in 1989. A third edition is currently in the works. In 1980, the Oxford lexicographers made a successful grab for the lucrative American dictionary market with the publication of the very first Oxford American Dictionary. Sales have been brisk, thanks in part to the blurb on the front cover: “The most authoritative paperbound dictionary.” But by a curious oversight, the word paperbound is not inthe dictionary itself.
                                   Source : 500 years of new words by Bill Sherk

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