Barnhart, Clarence L.

Barnhart, Clarence L. (Lewis)

(1900–93) lexicographer; born near Plattsburg, Mo. Beginning his career at the publishing firm of Scott, Foresman, he joined forces with the educator and psychologist Edward L. Thorndike to edit the Thorndike-Barnhart school dictionaries, for many years the most widely used school dictionaries in the U.S.A. But perhaps his most lasting contribution to lexicography was his editing of the American College Dictionary (1947), which introduced the participation of leading linguists and psychologists and was the forerunner of the entire line of Random House dictionaries. With his son Robert he also edited the two-volume World Book Dictionary (first published 1963), which is sold as part of the World Book Encyclopedia. He was also active in promoting a more linguistically informed approach to reading in association with the linguist Leonard Bloomfield and edited Let's Read: A Linguistic Approach (1961). He founded his own publishing company, Barnhart Books, which with his son David published periodic compilations of new words (neologisms), subsequently collected in book form. He is widely regarded as the doyen of American lexicographers of the twentieth century.
The Cambridge Dictionary of American Biography, by John S. Bowman. Copyright © Cambridge University Press 1995. Reproduced with permission.