Thursday, September 28, 1961: Webster's Third

"Webster's Third New International Dictionary of the English Language, Unabridged" or just "Webster's Third," is published by the G. & C. Merriam Company. The edition receives considerable publicity, not all of it positive:

-- The word "ain't" is included (see picture). "A dictionary's embrace of the word 'ain't' will comfort the ignorant, confer approval upon the mediocre, and subtly imply that proper English is the tool only of the snob; but it will not assist men to speak true to other men. It may, however, prepare us for that future which it could help to hasten. In the caves, no doubt, a grunt will do." (Toronto Globe and Mail)

-- "The label 'colloquial,' formerly applied to any word usage outside strict academic usage, has been dropped." (Associated Press)

-- "The new volume also clears up another tricky grammatical problem by asserting that there are some prepositions you can end a sentence with." (United Press International)

-- "The most startling innovation is the sprightly use of quotations from famous people to illustrate shades of meaning. To show how the word 'drain' can mean 'exhaust,' the dictionary borrows Ethel Merman's dictum: 'Two shows a day drain a girl.' 'Puff' in the sense of 'overrate' is defined by Willie Mays: 'Hit too many homers and people start puffing you up.' (Life magazine, September 15)

-- "Its rule of thumb seems to be: anything people say goes into the book. Thus, that most monstrous of all non-words -- irregardless -- is included." (Life magazine, October 27)

-- "We suggest to the Webster's editors that they not throw out the printing plates of the Second Edition. There is likely to be a continuing demand for it ... " (New York Times, October 12)

* Preface of dictionary: @
* Entry from "Merriam-Webster's Dictionary of English Usage": @
* "Ain't That the Truth / Webster's Third: The Most Controversial Dictionary in the English Language" (Humanities magazine, 2009): @
* "The Story of Webster's Third: Philip Gove's Controversial Dictionary and Its Critics" (book by Herbert C. Morton): @
* Excerpt from "Dictionaries and the Authoritarian Tradition" (book by Walter de Gruyter): @
* Excerpt from "The Lexicographer's Dilemma: The Evolution of 'Proper' English, from Shakespeare to 'South Park' " (book by Jack W. Lynch and John T. Lynch): @
* "Merriam-Webster and Webster's Third": @
* "A Non-Word Deluge" (Life magazine, October 1961): @
* "Logomarchy-Debased Verbal Currency" (editorial in American Bar Association Journal, January 1962): @
* "When a Dictionary Could Outrage" (New York Times, 2011): @
* Dictionary Society of North America: @

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