This term, from the Latin terrere, “to frighten,” was first applied to the Jacobins and others like them who organized the Reign of Terror in the wake of the French Revolution. The guillotine was the chief instrument of execution for those found guilty of plotting against the new republican government, and among its victims were Louis XVI and his Austrian wife, Marie Antoinette. The flow of blood was at its greatest from the summer of 1793 (Louis and his wife had been dispatched the previous January) until the summer of 1794, during which time an estimated forty thousand persons lost their lives.

But the popular notion that French aristocrats were the chief recipients of the guillotine blade simply is not true. In A History of the Modern World, R.R. Palmer and Joel Colton set the record straight: “The Terror showed no respect for, or interest in, the class origins of its victims. About eight per cent were nobles, but the nobles as a class were not molested unless suspected of political agitation.

Fourteen per cent of the victims were classifiable as bourgeois, mainly of the rebellious southern cities. Six per cent were clergy, while no less than seventy per cent were of the peasant and labouring classes.”

The terror struck fear in the hearts of French citizens from the English Channel to the Riviera. Butchery in the name of politics became the order of the day as one atrocity followed another. And not all victims were beheaded: at Nantes, for example, two thousand hapless souls were loaded onto barges and deliberately drowned.
                                 Source: 500 Years of new words By Bill Sherk


      You would think this word would date back much earlier than 1761, particularly when you consider that the word grave goes back to Old English, which flourished from the sixth to the eleventh centuries after Christ. Graveclothes (the clothes in which the corpse is buried) dates backto 1535, and gravedigger to 1593, but the popularity of cemetery (from the 1400s) and burial place (from 1633) made it possible for the Englishspeaking people to get by for more than a thousand years without a single graveyard in their vocabulary — at least as far as we know.

The fancy ancient word for a cemetery or graveyard is necropolis, literally “a city of the dead.” The ancient Egyptians had special communities set aside for the preparation of corpses for burial, especially those of the royal family, who had the privilege of being mummified. The job of working in one of these places was passed down from father to son, and those who lived there were known by an Egyptian word meaning “those who carry the odour of death with them.”

In the late nineteenth century, grave robbing became a lucrative business as medical schools paid good money for corpses suitable for research. Legislation to stamp out this ghoulish practice followed on the heels of the discovery, in 1878, that the cadaver lying in the dissecting room of the Ohio Medical College was none other than John Scott Harrison, the only American to be the son of one president (William Henry Harrison) and the father of another (Benjamin Harrison).
                      Source: 500 Years of new words By Bill Sherk


           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