Merriam-Webster's Collegiate Dictionary

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little red book, dictionary labeled The New Webster Dictionary And Vest-Pocket Library 45,800 Words, Five Books
This greatly abbreviated edition of the Webster Dictionary from 1894 includes the most common words with their pronunciation and corresponding synonyms

Merriam-Webster's Collegiate Dictionary (also abbreviated to Webster's Dictionary , Webster or Merriam-Webster ) is a very well-known and frequently used dictionary in the English-speaking world (especially the USA ) .

It contains an abridged version of Webster's New International Dictionary , but is now considered a separate series. Its good reputation is based primarily on the long history of the Merriam-Webster publishing house , which has since been incorporated into the publishing house of the Encyclopædia Britannica ( Encyclopædia Britannica, Inc. ).

From 1985 onwards published 9th edition (Webster's Ninth New Collegiate Dictionary, WNNCD) the practice changed with the clear distinction from the Third New International and no longer just its abridged version. The most significant change at the time was the addition of the year in which the individual words appeared for the first time, as far as known.

A special feature is that the Webster does not use the widely used IPA phonetic spelling to describe the pronunciation of the words, but uses its own pronunciation alphabet (which differs in many sounds).

In Germany, for example, the Webster is used by school and university students, also because the use of English-English dictionaries in English exams is often permitted.


Noah Webster published his first dictionary, A Compendious Dictionary of the English Language , in 1806 .

The company of the Merriam brothers, which had started as a printing and bookshop in 1831, took over the remainder of his dictionary from 1841 after Webster's death in 1843 and continued this work.

In 1828 it published Webster's Encyclopedic Unabridged Dictionary of the English Language , a comprehensive, monolingual American reference work - comparable to the German universal dictionary or the British Oxford English Dictionary .

The second edition of the New International Dictionary came out in 1934 and represented conservative linguistics with extensive background material. It made a strict distinction between "correct" English according to the definition of science and incorrect, improper, or illiterate English, the colloquial language.

Webster's Third New International Dictionary, Unabridged , appeared in 1961 with over 476,000 entries and revolutionized the representation of language. Colloquial language down to slang was included, marked as nonstandard , but no longer marked as faulty. The editors drew considerable criticism, but stuck to their line.

The Merriam-Webster publishing house has been part of the Encyclopædia Britannica, Inc. since 1964.

In 1988 the editors planned a fourth edition, it should be produced in eight years. Preliminary work was carried out for around a year, but the plans were then postponed in favor of a faster revision of the Collegiate Dictionary . The 10th edition appeared in 1993. The project of a new Unabridged Dictionary shifted further with the entry of Merriam-Websters into the market of school dictionaries, which until then had been completely dominated by English publishers. Merriam's Advanced Learner's English Dictionary was published in 2008 after around a decade of work.

The editors have been working on a completely new edition of the Unabridged since 2009 ; it will no longer appear in print, but only online. The first contributions created for them went online in January 2013. Since then, more releases have come about twice a year. Completion is no longer planned, the editors expect that work on the new Unabridged will continue in the future .

The third edition was put online in 2002 and is only accessible for a fee. The new contributions are posted in it.

Individual evidence

  1. Unless otherwise stated, the story is based on Stefan Fatsis: The Definition of a Dictionary . In: Slate . January 12, 2015.
  2. About Us. Merriam-Webster Incorporated. Retrieved January 6, 2015 .

Web links