a group of dictionaries bearing the name of the American lexicographer Noah Webster (1758–1843). Webster published An American Dictionary of the English Language (New York, 1828), which contained 70,000 words and went through many editions.
After Webster’s death the Merriam Company in Springfield, Mass., acquired the rights to the dictionary. In 1934, Webster’s New International Dictionary of the English Language (2nd ed.) was published, containing some 600,000 words that had existed in English since the year 1500. The third edition, Webster’s Third New International Dictionary of the English Language, was published in 1961. This was in effect a new dictionary, containing 450,000 words that had existed since 1755. It contained no proper nouns, had a greater number of modern scientific terms, and devoted particular attention to neologisms.
There are several abridged editions of the dictionary, including Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary (1st ed., 1898) for college students, Webster’s Secondary School Dictionary (1st ed., 1959) for high-school students, and Webster’s Elementary Dictionary (1st ed., 1956) for grade-school pupils. The Merriam Company also publishes Webster’s Geographical Dictionary (1st ed., 1949), Webster’s Biographical Dictionary (1st ed., 1943), and Webster’s Dictionary of Synonyms (1st ed., 1942). A number of other dictionaries include Webster’s name in their titles but have no relationship with the Webster’s dictionaries and are not published by the Merriam publishing house. Examples are the Webster’s New World Dictionary of the American Language and the Vest Pocket Webster’s Dictionary.
I. V. GUDOVSHCHIKOVA