Noah Webster.

An American dictionary of the English language : exhibiting the origin, orthography, pronunciation, and definitions of words online

. (page 1 of 400)
Online LibraryNoah WebsterAn American dictionary of the English language : exhibiting the origin, orthography, pronunciation, and definitions of words → online text (page 1 of 400)
Font size
QR-code for this ebook


mil I III iiii

3 1822 02765 1934



iri^llfr?i^i',7,ln9.';uC*'i"'ORNIA, SAN DIEGO

I I I I I I l|l|M||MI |!llll|l||i||lll<i: :

, 3 1822 02765 1934

















sin ^p^JcnDii%




No. 82 Cliff- Street.

184 5.

Y > 1 T-Pl ». " •■ ***-

0:^" For Apiicndix, seepage 041.


n« IT RCMViiiixnEn, That on tho tnnth clnr<>rJ'ily) in t'lo firty-fimrlh jrenr of lh« InrtppenHonre of the Un'tiwi Hitto* ol
Amtirlni, Noah \Ver>tkr nnd JoiirH K. \A onritTEii, of Iho Dalit itiatrict, tiave dopotiliHj in tbii oflJc« ibo lill« of a book,
(ko ri);l>l wlioii'(>r llicy claim ui |>rii|irioti>rii, in tlio woi'li rollxuiiii;, lo vil : —

" An Amorinin Dirlinnnry of Itio Kngliali I.onpimjjo ; axliil>iling tlio Ori5in, Orthogrnphy, Pronunciation, and (tcfinitiota
of Wiiriii: liv N<iuli VVoloior, M.. I).: nlirlilt,'i-(i frnm tlio Uii'irlo Kilitinn of tho Autlior : to which are ai linii, a hiynopiM
of WoriJH ililforpiitly prono'iiirnl by (lifTurunt Urthucpiitii ; and \V'alker'a Key to the Clauical Pronunciation of Ureek, Latia,
Mul Scripture Proju'r Nome*."

In conformity to tho art of Congrejii of tho United SlMoi, entitled, " An Act for the encouragement of learning, hy tecurinf
ibe copica of liiapo, chntti. ami hookn, to tlir authors nnd proprietorii of iiuch copiei during the time* there. .1 mentioned;'
and ol«o to tho act, ontltlod, "An Act nupiilomoiitury to an act, cntitli'd, ' .\n Act for the encouragement of learning, \>j
aacurin; the copieii of map4, chnrti, and boolta, to the authors and proprietors of auch copien, during the timei therein mea
< ioiiad ;* and extending the beiiotila thereof to the arts of designing, engraving, and etching hiitoricul and other prints."

Clerk of Uit District of ConntctituL


Vistnct Clnk't OJUt
ta ; ." REMEMBERBD, That OH the thirteenth day of Julv, A. D. 1S29, in tho 6fly-fourth year of the Independence of Ibe
United States uf Ainoricn, Noah Webster and Joseph E. Worcester, of the said district, have deposited in this offiea
Ihe title of a book, tlie right whereof they claim as proprietors, in tlie words following, to wit ; —

" An American Dictionary of the English Language; exhibiting the Origin, Orthography, Pronunciation, and Definition!
of Words: hy Noah Webster, LL. D. : abridged from tho Cluartu E>lition of the Aiithur: to which are added, a Synopsia
•f Words differently pronounced by different Orthot:pists ; and Walker's Key to the Classical Pronunciation of Greek, Latio,
and Scripture Proper Barnes."

In conformity to the act of tho Congress of the United States, entitled, " An Act for the encoura^iment of learning, by
■ecuring tho copies of maps, charts, aiul books, to the authors and proprietors of such copies during tho times therein men-
tioned ;" and also to an act, entitled, " An Act supplementary to an act, entitled, ' An Act for the encjuragement of learning,
by securing the copiog of maps, charts, and books, to tho authors and proprietors of such copies, durir.g the times therein HM*
tioaed ;' and ezteoU'Dg tho beuofits thereof to the arts uf designing, engraving, and etching historical and other prints."

Clerk of the District af Massackusetis

n>e Appendix baa been entered, acconUcs to the Act of Confresi, ai the ytu IStl,


la the Clerk's Office of the Dlstnct Court of the Dietrict of ConBectknt


The author of the American Dictionary of the English Language has been
prevented, by the state of his health, from attending, in person, to its aoridgment
into the octavo form. The work has, therefore, been committed, for this purpose,
to Mr. J. E. Worcester, of Cambridge, Massadiuaetts, who has strictly adhered
to the general principles laid down for his direction by the author. Cases of doubt,
arising in the application of these principles, and such changes and modifications
of the original as seemed desirable, in a work of this kind, intended for general
use, have been referred, for decision, to Prof. Goodrich, of Yah College, who
was requested by the author to act, on these subjects, as his representative.
The Synopsis of words of disputed pronunciation has been prepared by the former
of tht-se gentlemen ; Walker's " Key to the Classical Pronunciation of Greek, Latin
and Scripture Proper Names" has passed under the revision of the latter.

The following are some of the most important principles on which the Abridg-
ment has been conducted.

The vocabulary has been considerably enlarged. It here embraces all the words
contained in the original work, and in Todd's edition of Johnson's Dictionary, to-
gether with such additional ones as have appeared to the author to be worthy of

The leading and most important etymologies, as given in the quarto edition, are
aere retained.

Thvi definitions remain unaltered, except by an occasional compression in their
statement. All the significations of words, as exhibited in the larger work, are
here retained ; and new ones have, in some instances, been added by the author's
direction, as deficiencies, in this respect, have been discovered. The illustrations
and authorities are generally omitted : In doubtful or contested cases, however,
they are carefully retained.

In cases of disputed orthography, the principle, adopted in the quarto edition, of
introducing into the vocabulary the different forms in question, has been carried, in
the Abridgment, to a considerably greater extent. In most instances of this kind,
the old orthography takes the lead, and is immediately r<)llowed by the one pro-
posed. The u and k, however, are entirely excluded from such words as honor
and music, in accordance with the decided tendency of later usage, both in this
country and in England. In derivative words, the final consonant of the primiiive
is doubled only tvhen under the accent, in conformity with one of the best establi^lied
principles of the language. On this subject, Walker observes, in his Rhyming Dic-
tionary, "Dr. Lowth has justly remarked, that this error (that of doubling the final
consonant when not under llie accent) frequently takes place in the words worship-
ping, counselling, etc., which, having the accent on the first syllable, ought to be
written ivorshiping, counseling, etc. An ignorance of this rule has led many to
write bigotled for bigoted, and from this spelling has arisen a false pronunciation :
but no letter seems to be more frequently doubled improperly than /. Why we
should write libelling, revelling, and yet offering, suffering, reasoning, I am at a loss
to determine ; and unless / can give a better plea than anv other letter in the alpha-
bet for being doubled in this situation, I must, in the style of Lucian, in his trial of
the letter t, declare for an expulsion." In this expulsion, it is believed, the public
will finally concur, when they reflect, that this violation of analogv takes place in

!t preface.

the derivatives of comparatively few words, in opposition to multitudes of instances
ill wliich tlic gciicnil rule prevails.

As a miido to proiniuridtion, tlic words liavr; been carefully diviflcd into syllahlos.
Tliis, in the great majority of iiistaiiccs, decides at once tin.' regular sound of tiie
vowels in the respective syllables; and wherever the vowels depart from this regu-
lar sound, a ^;o/«^y/ letter is used, (li!noting the sound whieh they receive in such
cases. When under the accent, the regular long sound of the vowels is also indi-
cated by a pointed letter. Thus, by means of pointed letters, the necessity of re-
spelling the words, as a guide to pronunciation, is chiefly obviated. In cases of
dis[)uted pronunciation, the diirerent forms are frequently given. But the Synopsis
of Mr. Worcester exhibits these diversities much more fully, and gives, in one
view, the decisions of the most apjiroved Pronouncing Dictionaries resjjecting about
eight hundred primitive words, which, of course, decide the pronunciation of a great
number of derivatives. Those who are interested in such inquiries are thus pre-
sented, at a single glance, with nearly all the important points of diflerence in
English orthoepy, and are enabled to decide for themselves, without the expense
or trouble of examining the several authorities.

In some instances, vowels have a fluctuating or intermediate sound ; and hence
there is a great diversity among orthoepists in their manner of indicating the sound
in question. Thus the sound of a, in monosyllables, in ass, ast, ask, ancc, ant, etc.,
is marked by some with the short sound of a in fat, and by otliers with its Italian
sound, as in father. In this work, the latter is given as the prevailing sound both in
this country and in England. JMitford, indeed, observes, in his work on Har-
mony in Language, " No English voice fails to express, no English ear to perceive,
the difference between the sound of a in jyassing and passive ; no colloquial familiar-
ity or hurry can substitute the one sound for the other." The true sound, how-
ever, is not so long as that of a m father, but corresponds more exactly to the final a
in umbrella. Being thus short, it is often mistaken for the sound of a mfat. There is
another intermediate sound of o, between its ordinary sound infall on the one hand,
and in what on the other. This is heard in such words as salt, malt, etc. As tliis
sound seems to incline, in most cases, towards the short rather than the long sound
in question, it is here marked with the sound of a in what, though in many cases it
is somewhat more protracted. The sound of o, in such words as lost, loft, toss, etc.,
is not so short as in lot ; but, like the o in nor, though slightly protracted, it should
by no means be prolonged into the full sound of a in tall. In monosyllables ending
m are, as hare, fare, the a is slightly modified by the subsequent r. Such words
ought not to be pronounced as if spelled hay-er, fay-er, but hair, fair. Perry alone,
of all the English orthoepists, has introduced a distinct character to indicate tliis
pound ; but it is well ascertained that Walker and others coincided with Perry in
their pronunciation, in accordance with the general pronunciation of England in this
respect. These remarks apply likewise to the words parent, apparent, transparent,
etc. In respect to accent, there are many words in which the primary and secon-
dary accent are nearly equal in force ; such as complaisant, caravan, etc. In such
cases, the accent is here thrown towards tlie beginning of the word, in accordance
with the general tendency of our language.

In laying this work before the public in its present form, no efforts have been
spared to make it a complete defining and pronouncing dictionary for general use.
About sixteen thousand words, and between thirty and forty thousand definitions are
contained in this dictionary, which are not to be found in any similar work widiin
the author's knowledge. These additions do not principally consist of obsolete
terms, or uncommon and unimportant significations of words. In most cases, on the
contrary, they are terms and significations which are in constant use in the various
departments of science and the arts, in commerce, manufactures, merchandise, the
hberal professions, and the ordinary concerns of hfe. They mark tlie progress
which the English language has made during die seventy years which have elapsed


since the publication of Dr. Johnson's Dictionary. Within that period, a complete
revolution has taken place in almost every braHch of physical science. New de-
partments have been created, new principles developed, new modes of classification
and description adopted. More rigid principles of definition have been gradually
introduced into almost every department of human knowledge. In these respects,
however, our dictionaries have remained almost stationary. The labors of our lexi-
cographers, since the time of Johnson, have been chiefly confined to tlie btroduc-
tion of new words into the vocabulary. In the work of which this is an abridgment,
the words have all been defined anew. The explanations given are adapted to tlie
idvanced state of knowledge at the present day, and to the changes which seventy
V^ears have made in the use of terms. In the definitions of the leading and im-
portant words, the signification is explained by enumerating the properties of tlie
object in question, and not merely by a reference to other words of a similar im-
port. In numerous instances, the distinctions between words which are apparently
synonymous are traced with great minuteness; and it is hoped that the present work
may supply, to a considerable extent, the place of a regular treatise on English
synonyms. In a work of tliis kind, however, embracing, as it does, the whole circle
of ideas embodied in the language of a nation, the utmost efforts of the lexicogra-
pher are only an approximation towards the end in view. No single mind can
enter, with perfect exactness, into all the raultiphed distinctions of thought and lan-
guage, among a highly oivihzed people. The author of such a work may, therefore,
confidently hope for the candor and indulgence of an enlightened public.

As the author of the original work has intrusted the superintendence of the
Abridgment to another person, he is not to be considered as responsible for any of
the modifications already alluded to. The quarto edition will, of course, be con-
sidered as presenting his exact views of tlie proper arrangement and exhibitior^
of words, in respect to their orthography and pronunciation.

New Haven, June 1, 1829.




TiiR author of the American Dictionary of the English Language, at the
expiration of twelve years from its first publication, has given to the world a
new edition of the work, containing his last corrections and improvements.
These, in all important particulars, are now introduced into this Abridgment;
chiefly in the form of an Appendix, which will be found at the end of the volume.
Corrections, however, have in numerous instances been made in the body of the
work itself; and where this could not be done without great inconvenience,
they have been reserved for a distinct mention in this Preface. Thus the
Abridgment as now presented to the public, is made to correspond, in every
important respect, to the most improved form of the great work which it repre-
sents. It will, therefore, in its future publication, bear the name of the Revised

It will now be proper to state more distinctly, the alterations and improve-
maents made by the venerable author, in his recent edition of the larger work.

1. About^/J!een thousand words have been added to the vocabulary, all of
"which will be found in the Appendix to this work.

2. The definitions have been found in comparatively few cases to need cor-
rection, except in one or two branches of science, where a change of nomen-
clature has, to some extent, taken place. New senses of words, however, have
fre(]ucntly been added ; and these, together with all material changes of defini-
tion in important terms, will be found in the Appendix under the words them-
selves, which are given anew.

3. In a class of words which have borne two forms, the author selects that
which he deems most proper, and discards the other. Thus he prefers to write
aftericai'd, baclaoard, foTward, onward, toicard, &c., without the s. He rejects
amongst and lohilst, as obsolete ; and disannul, as an unauthorized and unne-
cessary substitute for anmil. He prefers skeptic to sceptic ; gimlet to gitnblet ;
Mnhammedism to Mohammedanism; chamomile to caT?iomile ; handcj-aft to
handicraft ; handwork to handy work ; incase to encase ; enlist to inlist ; em-
body to imbody. He also remarks, (what had escaped his notice in the first
edition.) that wiseacre is the German iceissager, or foreteller ; and would more
properly be spelled, xoise-sayer. On the principles laid down in the Preface to
this Abridgment, most of these words were inserted under both their forms ;
and still are suilered to stand because it was found dilficult to make the change.
It will be understood, however, from this statement, which form the authoi

4. The pronunciation of some disputed words has been changed, in conformity
with general analogies, or more recent usage. These it is unnecesary to enu-
merate, as they will be found in the body of the work.

iVeic Haven, July 1, 1841.




The oSject of this Synopsis is to exhibit, at one view, the manner in which words
of doubtful, disputed, or various pronunciation, are pronounced by the most eminent
English orthoepists. To these words a star is prefixed, as they occur in the Dictionary.

The six Pronouncing Dictionaries which have been made use of in the Synopsis,
namely, those of Sheridan, Walker, Perry, Jones, Fulton and Knight, and Jameson,
were originally published in the order of time in which they are here exhibited,
Sheridan's being the first, and Jameson's the last.

The work of Perry, which has been made use of, is his " Synonymous, Etymological
and Pronouncing English Dictionary," in royal 8vo., which was first published in
1805, and which differs, in the pronunciation of many words, from Perry's " Royal
Standard English Dictionary," which appeared many years earlier.

These orthoepists have each his own peculiar system of notation ; but as their sev
eral systems could not be exhibited in the Synopsis without much inconvenience, and
without causing great confusion and perplexity to the reader, their respective pronun-
ciations have been represented by one method of notation. As these authors do not
agree with each other with respect to the number and quality of the sounds of the
English vowels, it is impossible, by the notation here used, to represent, in every
instance, their precise difference. The cases of failure, however, are not important.

Perry alone makes a distinction between the sound of long a as m fait , and of a as
\n farf, which last is marked by him thus (a). Sheridan, Perry, Fulton and Knight, and
Jameson, make no distinction between the short sound of o as in not, and the sound of
as in nor ; and Sheridan makes none between the sound of short a as in fat, and of
what IS called the Italian sound of a as in far and fat/irr. Fulton and Knight, on the
contrary, not oaly make a distinction between the sound of a in fat and in Jar, but
3csignaiti an intermediate sound, as \n fa!:t, not so short as a in fat, nor so broad as a
in far, li 13 jjtobable, however, that these orthoepists agreed in practice, in manj
cases, m which ifiey differed in marking the pronunciation of words ; and that, in va-
rious instances, ihey omitted to mark the discriminations in their dictionaries, which
they were in the constant habit of making in reading and speaking.

With regard to what is called the Italian sound of the letter a as in father, (in the
Synopsis marked thus, a), there is a great diversity among the different orthoepists.
Sheridan has not used it at all, and Walker and Jameson are more sparing in the use
of it tlian Perry, Jones, and Fulton and Knight. Dr. Webster has made more use
of it than any of them. But this difference of sound is not deemed to be so impor-
tant as to render it expedient *o introduce tlie words which are affected by it into the

With regard to the mode of representing the sound of the letter t, when it comes
after the accent, and is followed by », as in the words natiirr and natural, there is a
great diversity in the Pronouncing Dictionaries ; and this applies to a numerous class
of words. It has boon tliouglit necessary to give only a few of these words, mereljr
enough to show the different modes of different orthoepists.

There is a class of words, in which the letter d is followed by one of the vowels e, 1^
or M, as arduous, hideous, obedience, 6i.c,, respecting which there is a diversity of pro*


nunciation. A part only of these have been inserted, but enough to exhibit this
diversity, and indicate what other words must be ad'ectcd by it.

Tliere arc some words (if three syllables, which we hear pronounced sometimes with
the secondary accent on the first, and the primary accent on the third ; and sometimes
with this order reversed ; as, ambusradr, coravai), and jitirlisan. Dr. Webster inclines
frLiicrally to place the primary accent, in such words, on the first syllable ; but the
(lilTcrciicc IS not thouf^ht to be important enough to render it advisable, in all cases, to
c.xliibit them in the Synopsis.

With regard to the ([iiantity of the last syllable of many words which end in ik and
inr, i\s,jav(}iilc and vulpine, there is a great diversity in the Pronouncing Dictionaries ;
and there are sonu; cases in which it is diflicult to say whether the long or the short
sound is to be preferred, and respecting which every one may, without impropriety,
be permitted to follow his own taste or the usage to which he is accustomed. Some
of the words of this sort stand in the Dictionary without having the quantity of the last
syllable marked ; and but few of them have been inserted in the Synopsis.

A considerable number of words are inserted, with regard to which there is only one
uniform pronunciation exhibited by Dr. Webster and the several authorities made use
of It has, nevertheless, been thought advisable to insert them, because a different pro-
nunciation from the one here given is countenanced by other authorities, or, to a greater
or less extent, by usage ; and it may, therefore, be satisfactory to many to see the
authorities exhibited. The words accessory, centrifugal, centripetal and repertory are
examples of this class.

Some words are inserted, of which the pronunciation is, at present, well set-
tled ; as, for example, break, covetous, hydrophobia and the noun dejile. But with
regard to these words, a different pronunciation from that which is now established
formerly prevailed, and is supported by Sheridan.

It will be seen that, in many instances, there are several words of the same class oi
family, to which a star is prefixed in the Dictionary, though only one of them is found
in the Synopsis. In these cases, the leading or primitive word is inserted, which gov-
erns the rest of the same class ; as, for example, the pronunciation of acceptable an<l
fearful determines the pronunciation of their derivatives, acceptably , accepiableness,
fearfully and fearfulness.

In the Synopsis, the vowels are mariced, in many instances, by a period under them,
to denote an indistinct sound. These syllables are differently designated by the or-
thoepists here made use of; though they all doubtless agreed in their manner of
pronouncing them. In the word celibacy, for example, the vowels in the second and
fourth syllables, which are represented, in the Synopsis, by the indistinct sound of e (e),
are represented by Walker, Fulion and Knight, and Jameson, by the long sound of c,
and by Sheridan and Jones by the short sound of y. Perry marks the i in the second
syllable short, and leaves the y unmarked, as he does also the a in the third syllable,
which all the rest designate as short, and which has, in the Synopsis, the mark of
the indistinct sound of a.

Those words which, in the first column of the Synopsis, have not the pronunciation
marked, are pronounced in two different modes in the Dictionary.

Those words which are so long as not to admit of being displayed, at length, in the
body of the page, are there placed only in the first column, with Dr. Webster's pro-
nunciation ; and the pronunciation of the other orthoepists is given at the bottom of
the page.


To the Sounds of the Vowels as used in the Synopsis.







Online LibraryNoah WebsterAn American dictionary of the English language : exhibiting the origin, orthography, pronunciation, and definitions of words → online text (page 1 of 400)