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THE ENGLISH LANGUAGE:
A COMPLETE ENCYCLOPEDIC LEXICON, LITERARY, SCIENTIFIC,
JOHN OGILVIE, LL.D.,
Author of "The Comprehensive English Dictionary,” “The Student's English Dictionary," &c. &c.
CHARLES ANNANDALE, M.A.
ILLUSTRATED BY ABOVE THREE THOUSAND ENGRAVINGS PRINTED IN THE TEXT.
The publication of THE IMPERIAL DICTIONARY OF THE ENGLISH LANGUAGE, as edited by Dr. Ogilvie, was commenced in January, 1847, and completed in the same month of the year 1850; in 1854 the publication of the Supplement was begun, and it was finished the following year (1855). This work was based on the American dictionary of Noah Webster, LL.D., the edition employed being that published in 1841, the last which received amendments from the hands of the author himself. The modifications and improvements introduced by Dr. Ogilvie, though great and important, did not materially alter the scope and character of the work, farther than to the extent of giving it more of an encyclopædic form and of greatly increasing its value as a repertory of technological and scientific terms; the total number of entries having been increased to about 100,000, being 20,000 more than were contained in the work on which it was based.
An important and highly useful feature which distinguished this work very much from all other English Dictionaries was the employment of pictorial illustrations in the text. The idea of using pictorial illustrations in this manner seems to have originated with the well-known dictionary of Nathan Bailey, a certain number of woodcuts, chiefly explanatory of heraldic and mathematical terms, being inserted in the edition of his dictionary published in 1726–27 (2 vols. 8vo), while a greater number was inserted in later editions. In no previous English Dictionary, however, was this aid to the elucidation of definitions and descriptions carried into effect so thoroughly and systematically as in Ogilvie's Imperial Dictionary. In such high estimation was this new feature held that the publishers of Webster's American Dictionary speedily followed the example thus set before them, and introduced pictorial illustrations into that work also, and in doing so copied and reproduced one after another the greater number of the figures given in the Imperial. In fact wherever in Webster and the Imperial the same illustrative figure appears, the original is uniformly the one to be found in the latter work. Other dictionaries, both in this country and America, have followed the same example.
In this form the Imperial Dictionary was before the public for more than a quarter of a century, and was widely accepted as a standard lexicon of the English language, and as one of the most useful for the purposes of general reference and everyday requirement; the latter fact being amply attested by its continuous and steady sale over that somewhat lengthened period of years.
But the never-ceasing process of growth, change, and expansion—to which the English, like all other living languages, is subject—having gone on with unabated rapidity since the first publication of this work, it had at length ceased to be sufficient for all requirements, more especially in a time of great intellectual activity such as the present. During the period comprising the last twenty-five or thirty years hosts of new words and terms connected with all departments of human thought and action have come into everyday use; much new light has been thrown on the etymology and history of English words, and