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previously. The time, therefore, seemed fully to have arrived for bringing out the Imperial Dictionary in an improved form, and hence the appearance of the present edition, in which substantially a New Work is laid before the reader, so greatly has the book been altered and enlarged.
The most readily appreciated result of the labour bestowed upon this edition—labour continued for more than ten years—will be seen in the augmentation of the vocabulary, which has been increased by at least 30,000 words, the work being now estimated to contain about 130,000 words or separate entries—a number much greater than is contained in any English dictionary hitherto published.
The additions made to the vocabulary naturally consist largely of terms belonging to science, technology, and the arts in general; but besides these there have been inserted great numbers of words used by modern poets and prose writers, as well as by writers of all kinds from the sixteenth century to the present time, but not hitherto brought together in any one dictionary. Other additions that may be particularly mentioned are Scotch words used by Burns, Sir Walter Scott, and other writers, together with numerous provincial English words; many Americanisms; and such foreign words as are frequently met with in English books. It has been thought right to include also a large number of the colloquialisms and even slang words and phrases so freely used in modern literature of the lighter class, and frequently heard in conversation, though of course attention has been drawn to their somewhat peculiar standing and character. With a view to collecting suitable additions wherewith to enrich the vocabulary, numerous works both literary and scientific have been specially read by the editorial staff and others.
Had an increase of the number of separate entries been deemed of special importance, this result might easily have been achieved, and an appearance of greater copiousness imparted In the first place the number of entries of compound words might have been increased by embodying many of the most obvious signification which have been omitted. It will be readily understood, however, that there is some difficulty in drawing any hard-and-fast line with regard to the insertion of words of this kind, and the tendency has rather been to inclusion than to exclusion. Again, participles are not inserted as separate words when they are merely forms of verbs, and when there is no irregularity in their formation; thus, walking, walked have no entries, but done, made, seen have. When, however, they also form adjectives, and are used in senses diverging from those of their verbs, participles are entered separately. Thus, loving is inserted as an adjective, because we speak of loving words, loving looks, &c. So verbal nouns in -ing are not entered when they express nothing more than the mere act expressed by their primitive; but when they have a concrete meaning or denote important operations (as the word engraving), they are defined in a separate article. It must also be understood that, with the exception of Chaucerian words, comparatively few words will be found in this Dictionary that are peculiar to writers before the sixteenth century (say the year 1550), the earlier period of the language not falling within its scope. To have inserted words and forms from all periods of the language would certainly have greatly increased the copiousness of the vocabulary but at same time the bulk and price of the work, without thereby imparting a corresponding increase of value for the vast majority of readers.
Great pains have been taken to ensure that this Dictionary shall adequately fulfil what may be called the literary functions of a dictionary. As a literary dictionary its aim is to supply a key to the written works in the language, and to serve as an aid to PREFACE.
which are or have been attached to words by writers both new and old, by explaining idiomatic phrases and peculiar constructions, by distinguishing obsolete from current meanings and usages, as well as obsolete and obsolescent from current words, by marking whether words or meanings are poetical, colloquial, rare, provincial, and the like, and by carefully distinguishing between words closely synonymous in signification.
The words here more especially referred to are those belonging to the domain of literature as distinct from the domain of science and the arts—the words that form the bones and sinews of the English language, and give it its special character as a means for the expression of thought. All the articles on such words—comprising innumerable verbs, nouns, adjectives, adverbs, prepositions, &c.—have been thoroughly revised, and great alterations have been made on the definitions formerly given. By this process meanings similar but really different have been more clearly defined and distinguished from each other, the work has been enriched by numerous additional meanings and phrases, and greater conciseness, clearness, and precision generally have been attained; while various omissions and oversights in reference to grammatical and other peculiarities or usages have been detected and rectified. The discrimination of synonyms has been carried out on an extensive scale, and must prove a useful feature, as no doubt will also the grouping of a number of synonymous, or nearly synonymous, expressions under all the principal words.
This Dictionary will be found to be rich in illustrative quotations. Such quotations, as showing the real meanings of words and exemplifying the grammatical constructions in which they enter, are of the utmost value, and many thousands have been added in the present edition, from modern poets, novelists, historians, essayists, critics, &a, as well as from standard writers of an older date. In selecting illustrative passages preference has generally been given to such as are interesting in themselves, either from the thought conveyed or from the language in which it is clothed, and thus many of the most notable utterances of the best English writers will be found interspersed through the pages of the book. Other extracts, again, contain valuable information from trustworthy authorities on the subjects in regard to which they have been adduced.
By the encyclopaedic method of treatment adopted in the work the advantages of an ordinary dictionary and those of an encyclopaedia are combined. This method is the only one of real value so far as concerns a vast number of words belonging to the arts and sciences, to theology, philosophy, law, politics, manners and customs, &c, the majority of terms of this description being such that it is impossible to elucidate them satisfactorily by means of a bare definition, since such a definition, however exact in itself, often conveys little real information respecting the subject defined. For instance, under the word Steam-engine, this Dictionary does not stop short after defining it as "an engine worked by steam;" it gives a brief account of the principle, construction, and action of the steam-engine, some particulars regarding the various kinds of engines, and a succinct account of the history of this invention, and the article is illustrated by a pictorial representation of a condensing engine, having explanatory references to all the principal parts. So also with regard to Horse. To say with Dr. Johnson that it is "a neighing quadruped used in war, and draught, and carriage" is to add little or nothing to any one's knowledge. But in this Dictionary a small article is devoted to the horse, giving some general and scientific particulars regarding the animal and its different breeds, accompanied by an engraving which explains graphically such terms as "crest," "withers," "pastern," &c.
In regard to a great many words falling under this category the aid of the draughtsPREFACE.
figures, about four thousand in number, scattered over the pages of the work testify to the value of this mode of conveying information, besides adding much to the beauty of the volumes. These important advantages have not been attained without the expenditure of an amount of care, time, and labour, which a simple inspection of the figures on the pages does not render easily apparent. But when it is considered that each figure represents a fact which no invention could supply, it is at once perceived that the providing of these pictorial facts, and the research required to obtain them in such form as would really illustrate the definitions, must have entailed no ordinary amount of labour, more especially in view of the great multiplicity of subjects that had to be thus treated. The selection and arrangement of the illustrations for both the present and the former edition, have been almost exclusively the work of Mr. Robert Blackie. The replacements and new figures added in this edition extend to about one half of the whole.
While aiming at comprehensiveness and catholicity in the admission of words and terms, this Dictionary does not profess to contain all those belonging to every art and science, nor will these ever be found all collected together in any one Dictionary; yet it certainly contains far more than the generality of readers are ever likely to meet with. It will be found especially full in the departments of Zoology, Botany, Geology, Mineralogy, Mathematics, Chemistry, Physics, Astronomy, Anatomy, Medicine and Surgery, Archaeology, Architecture, Engineering, Machinery, Manufactures, Agriculture, and Commerce. Among the words belonging to the department of natural history it has been thought advisable to include the Latin or semi-Latinized names of the principal orders, families, genera, &c., both of the animal and the vegetable kingdom. To secure accuracy in the definition of scientific terms, and correctness generally in the treatment of scientific subjects, the articles belonging to the various sciences have been carefully revised by men eminent for their attainments in the respective branches.
The advance that the science of comparative philology has made during the last twenty-five or thirty years, and the numerous recent investigations into the philology and history of the English language and other kindred tongues, rendered it necessary that the etymological portion of the work should be entirely remodelled. This has accordingly been done, and full use has been made of the labours of both English and foreign philologists and etymologists in effecting the requisite changes. The aim has always been to state in a concise form such facts regarding the derivations of the various words as might suffice to meet the wants of inquirers in general, and to avoid such extended treatment as could only be appreciated by persons having some special knowledge of philology. Articles on the principal prefixes and affixes will be found at their proper places registered alphabetically throughout the work, and some interesting and useful facts are given in the articles dealing with the various letters of the alphabet.
The Pronunciation has been inserted throughout according to the best usage, the words in all cases being re-spelled according to a simple and easily intelligible system of transliteration. As the pronunciation of certain words cannot be said to be settled, alternative pronunciations have been given in cases where more than one seemed to be well established. In order to meet the wants of a large number of readers, lists of Greek, Latin, Scriptural and other ancient Proper Names, and of Modem Geographical Names, with their pronunciation suitably marked have been appended, besides several other useful lists.
It is unnecessary to mention by name the various publications from which aid has PREFACE.
and important lexicographical works, as well as others of an earlier date, have contributed something of value, and great assistance has been derived from some of them, as well as from concordances, vocabularies, grammatical and other works; while in revising and drawing up the encyclopaedic articles, the most recent and most trustworthy encyclopaedias home and foreign, and the newest works treating of particular branches of knowledge, have been consulted.
Notwithstanding the expenditure of much care and labour, it is not to be supposed that the present work can be perfect, or even free from various errors and defects; but it is believed that the imperfections of the Imperial Dictionary will not be found more in number or greater in magnitude than might reasonably be expected to occur in an undertaking of such extent, and so difficult and so laborious in execution. The hope, indeed, may confidently be expressed that the work as a whole will, for many years, prove sufficient to meet the wants of all classes of English readers, and will rarely disappoint the expectations of those who consult its pages.
Glasgow, October, 1882.
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