How did Webster find the definitions of words he wrote in the dictionary?
Webster’s Dictionary – the most popular dictionary in America. But who was Webster and how did he write an entire dictionary? Noah Webster Jr., whom the modern dictionary is named after, was a famous lexicographer – someone who keeps lists of words and definitions. He published several books that helped millions of Americans learn to spell.
In 1807, Webster began compiling a comprehensive dictionary. It took him 26 years to complete! He learned over two dozen languages (28, to be exact) to better evaluate the etymology (origins and construction) of words. The dictionary contained 70,000 words, nearly two percent of which had never before appeared in a dictionary.
After Webster passed, George and Charles Merriam, who had founded the book-selling company G&C Merriam Co., bought the rights to Webster’s dictionary. The publishing company Merriam-Webster, Inc. was formed.
Americans owe the consistency and modernization of the English language to Noah Webster Jr. and his dedication.
Ah, the Oxford Comma, otherwise known as the serial comma. The single, most important punctuation in all of English grammar. No matter the genre or field, I adamantly encourage authors to utilize the Oxford Comma for maximum readability, comprehension, and fluidity. Yes, yes – I’m aware of the abhorrible AP Style, the one where they just list things like a precocious child working off a single breath of air. I cringe every time I see it.
Many people shrug off the importance of the Oxford Comma, citing the universal rule that it is up to the author. I’m here to disperse your antipathetic ways and encourage you to seek linguistic enlightenment. To begin down the path of knowledge, consider the following example:
I invited my relatives, Lady Gaga and Steve Carrell to my birthday party.
AP Style indicates that this is written correctly, but you and I know it’s not. The statement’s intended meaning is that I invited my relatives and Lady Gaga and Steve Carrell to my birthday party. Without the Oxford Comma, it’s easy to misinterpret this account and believe that I invited my relatives whose names are Lady Gaga and Steve Carrell.
What about this one?
I love my hobbies, dancing and eating ice cream.
Do you love your hobbies which are dancing and eating ice cream? Or do you love your hobbies and dancing and eating ice cream?
The Oxford Comma is a simple but enduringly effective method to ensure there is no confusion in your writing.
Now, come walk with me and revel in syntactic Nirvana.