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Lange, Römische Alterthümer, i. 542 foll. (Berlin, 1856, &c.); Daremberg-Saglio, Dictionnaire des antiquités grecques et romaines, ii. 161 foll. (1875, &c.); Haverfield, “The Abolition of the Dictatorship,” in Classical Review, iii. 77. (A. H. J. G.) 

DICTIONARY. In its proper and most usual meaning a dictionary is a book containing a collection of the words of a language, dialect or subject, arranged alphabetically or in some other definite order, and with explanations in the Definition and history. same or some other language. When the words are few in number, being only a small part of those belonging to the subject, or when they are given without explanation, or some only are explained, or the explanations are partial, the work is called a vocabulary; and when there is merely a list of explanations of the technical words and expressions in some particular subject, a glossary. An alphabetical arrangement of the words of some book or author with references to the places where they occur is called an index (q.v.). When under each word the phrases containing it are added to the references, the work is called a concordance. Sometimes, however, these names are given to true dictionaries; thus the great Italian dictionary of the Accademia della Crusca, in six volumes folio, is called Vocabolario, and Ernesti’s dictionary to Cicero is called Index. When the words are arranged according to a definite system of classification under heads and subdivisions, according to their nature or their meaning, the book is usually called a classed vocabulary; but when sufficient explanations are given it is often accepted as a dictionary, like the Onomasticon of Julius Pollux, or the native dictionaries of Sanskrit, Manchu and many other languages.

Dictionaries were originally books of reference explaining the words of a language or of some part of it. As the names of things, as well as those of persons and places, are words, and often require explanation even more than other classes of words, they were necessarily included in dictionaries, and often to a very great extent. In time, books were devoted to them alone, and were limited to special subjects, and these have so multiplied, that dictionaries of things now rival in number and variety those of words or of languages, while they often far surpass them in bulk. There are dictionaries of biography and history, real and fictitious, general and special, relating to men of all countries, characters and professions; the English Dictionary of National Biography (see Biography) is a great instance of one form of these; dictionaries of bibliography, relating to all books, or to those of some particular kind or country; dictionaries of geography (sometimes called gazetteers) of the whole world, of particular countries, or of small districts, of towns and of villages, of castles, monasteries and other buildings. There are dictionaries of philosophy; of the Bible; of mathematics; of natural history, zoology, botany; of birds, trees, plants and flowers; of chemistry, geology and mineralogy; of architecture, painting and music; of medicine, surgery, anatomy, pathology and physiology; of diplomacy; of law, canon, civil, statutory and criminal; of political and social sciences; of agriculture, rural economy and gardening; of commerce, navigation, horsemanship and the military arts; of mechanics, machines and the manual arts. There are dictionaries of antiquities, of chronology, of dates, of genealogy, of heraldry, of diplomatics, of abbreviations, of useful receipts, of monograms, of adulterations and of very many other subjects. These works are separately referred to in the bibliographies attached to the articles on the separate subjects. And lastly, there are dictionaries of the arts and sciences, and their comprehensive offspring, encyclopaedias (q.v.), which include in themselves every branch of knowledge. Neither under the heading of dictionary nor under that of encyclopaedia do we propose to include a mention of every work of its class, but many of these will be referred to in the separate articles on the subjects to which they pertain. And in this article we confine ourselves to an account of those dictionaries which are primarily word-books. This is practically the most convenient distinction from the subject-book or encyclopaedia; though the two characters are often combined in one work. Thus the Century Dictionary has encyclopaedic features, while the present edition of the Encyclopaedia Britannica, restoring its earlier tradition but carrying out the idea more systematically, also embodies dictionary features.

Dictionarium is a word of low or modern Latinity;[1] dictio, from which it was formed, was used in medieval Latin to mean a word. Lexicon is a corresponding word of Greek origin, meaning a book of or for words — a dictionary. A glossary is properly a collection of unusual or foreign words requiring explanation. It is the name frequently given to English dictionaries of dialects, which the Germans usually call idioticon, and the Italians vocabolario. Wörterbuch, a book of words, was first used among the Germans, according to Grimm, by Kramer (1719), imitated from the Dutch woordenboek. From the Germans the Swedes and Danes adopted ordbok, ordbog. The Icelandic ordabôk, like the German, contains the genitive plural. The Slavonic nations use slovar, slovnik, and the southern Slavs ryetshnik, from slovo, ryetsh, a word, formed, like dictionary and lexicon, without composition. Many other names have been given to dictionaries, as thesaurus, Sprachschatz, cornucopia, gazophylacium, comprehensorium, catholicon, to indicate their completeness; manipulus predicantium, promptorium puerorum, liber memorialis, hortus vocabulorum, ionia (a violet bed), alveary (a beehive), kamoos (the sea), haft kulzum (the seven seas), tsze tien (a standard of character), onomasticon, nomenclator, bibliotheca, elucidario, Mundart-sammlung, clavis, scala, pharetra,[2] La Crusca from the great Italian dictionary, and Calepino (in Spanish and Italian) from the Latin dictionary of Calepinus.

The tendency of great dictionaries is to unite in themselves all the peculiar features of special dictionaries. A large dictionary is most useful when a word is to be thoroughly studied, or when there is difficulty in making out the meaning of a word or phrase. Special dictionaries are more useful for special purposes; for instance, synonyms are best studied in a dictionary of synonyms. And small dictionaries are more convenient for frequent use, as in translating from an unfamiliar language, for words may be found more quickly, and they present the words and their meanings in a concentrated and compact form, instead of being scattered over a large space, and separated by other matter. Dictionaries of several languages, called polyglots, are of different kinds. Some are polyglot in the vocabulary, but not in the explanation, like Johnson’s dictionary of Persian and Arabic explained in English; some in the interpretation, but not in the vocabulary or explanation, like Calepini octoglotton, a Latin dictionary of Latin, with the meanings in seven languages. Many great dictionaries are now polyglot in this sense. Some are polyglot in the vocabulary and interpretation, but are explained in one language, like Jal’s Glossaire nautique, a glossary of sea terms in many languages, giving the equivalents of each word in the other languages, but the explanation in French. Pauthier’s Annamese Dictionary is polyglot in a peculiar way. It gives the Chinese characters with their pronunciation in Chinese and Annamese. Special dictionaries are of many kinds. There are technical dictionaries of etymology, foreign words, dialects, secret languages, slang, neology, barbarous words, faults of expression, choice words, prosody, pronunciation, spelling, orators, poets, law, music, proper names, particular authors, nouns, verbs, participles, particles, double forms, difficulties and many others. Fick’s dictionary (Göttingen, 1868, 8vo; 1874-1876, 8vo, 4 vols.) is a remarkable attempt to ascertain the common language of the Indo-European nations before each of their great separations. In the second edition of his Etymologische Forschungen (Lemgo and Detmoldt, 1859-1873, 8vo, 7217 pages) Pott gives a comparative lexicon of Indo-European roots, 2226 in number, occupying 5140 pages.

  1. Joannes de Garlandia (John Garland; fl. 1202-1252) gives the following explanation in his Dictionarius, which is a classed vocabulary: — “Dictionarius dicitur libellus iste a dictionibus magis necessariis, quas tenetur quilibet scolaris, non tantum in scrinio de lignis facto, sed in cordis armariolo firmiter retinere.” This has been supposed to be the first use of the word.
  2. An excellent dictionary of quotations, perhaps the first of the kind; a large folio volume printed in Strassburg about 1475 is entitled “Pharetra auctoritates et dicta doctorum, philosophorum, et poetarum continens.”