The Definition of a Dictionary

by Rachel Baker on January 13, 2015

I wasn’t sure about this article when I first saw it, but I got sucked in and the history of the Merriam-Webster dictionary is fascinating. The question really is will the company update a new print copy or will the next update be a digital online tome that can be accessed in a web browser.

It appears that for approximately $30.00 you will be able to buy a subscription to the unabridged version. This idea seems like it would limit accessibility to something everyone should have available. If there is a subscription fee, then charge $30.00 for a Kindle/Nook/Etc., book with a linkable table of content and search capabilities of the unabridged dictionary and let people work from there. Don’t charge every year – everyone knows words won’t be updated every year – because enough people won’t pay the subscription fee, so the company will lose money and the staffing won’t be there for constant updates to every single word in the unabridged dictionary.

In this age of digital communications, and social media, words matter – its important to not be a part of creating a dumber society but instead be a catalyst for making a far better society in which intellectual discourse can be had by all, not just the elite.

Anyway, this is a really wonderful article…Read it.

Read on:The Definition of a Dictionary

Now Merriam-Webster is pushing into the future by making an audacious nod to its past. More than half a century after it was published, the company’s landmark book—Webster’s Third New International Dictionary, Unabridged, known in lexicographic circles as Webster’s Third, W3, the Unabridged, or the Third—is getting an overhaul. The Third is a behemoth—4 inches thick, 13½ pounds, 2,700 pages—that falls like a crashing wave when opened. A fourth edition, by contrast, might never exist as a physical object. This latest revision, a project Merriam-Webster hopes will secure its dominance in the tenuous business of commercial lexicography if not ensure its future survival, is happening entirely online.

On its face, this might sound like a terrible plan. Merriam has tasked the majority of its employees with rewriting a book that likely won’t generate revenue the old-fashioned way, through hardcover sales. The project involves the subscription-only Unabridged site, not Merriam’s free online dictionary, which is based on its smaller desktop book, Merriam-Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary. So there’s no guarantee it will find enough customers willing to pay $29.95 a year to turn a profit. Plus, the work could take decades to complete. By the time the Third gets close to being a Fourth, it’s not clear how people will use a dictionary, or even what a dictionary will be.

This article was written by: Rachel Baker – Click to Become a Patron or to follow on Twitter.

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