Dictionary Quotes

I have contributed in a small degree, to the instruction of at least four million of the rising generation; and it is not unreasonable to expect that a few seeds of improvement planted by my hand, may germinate and grow and ripen into valuable fruit, when my remains shall be mingled with the dust.

The great American dictionary maker Noah Webster was a renowned philanderer. One day Mrs Webster found the wordsman in bed with the chambermaid. “Noah, I am surprised,” huffed the offended wife. Thereupon Webster drew himself up righteously and informed her, “No madam, you are astonished. I am surprised.”

I’ve been in Who’s Who and I know what’s what, but this is the first time I’ve been in the dictionary. (On becoming a life jacket)

I look upon this as I did upon the Dictionary: it is all work, and my inducement to it is not love or desire of fame, but the want of money, which is the only motive to writing that I know of.(On the task of editing Shakespeare, which John Hawkins told Johnson should be intrinsically […]

I was reading the dictionary. I thought it was a poem about everything.

Language is only the instrument of science, and words are but the signs of ideas: I wish, however, that the instrument might be less apt to decay, and that signs might be permanent, like the things they denote.

If a word in the dictionary were misspelled, how would we know?

Lexicographer: n.s. A writer of dictionaries; a harmless drudge, that busies himself in tracing the original, and detailing the signification of words.

I misplaced my dictionary. Now I’m at a loss for words.

Its most important claim on our attentnion is that Johnson’s [dictionary] is the only English dictionary that can be called a great work of literature. Most reference books are interesting only as long as they’re current; Johnson remains fascinating long after his definitions have been superseded.