Worcester, Joseph E.

Worcester, Joseph E. (Emerson)

(1784–1865) lexicographer; born in Bedford, N.H. He worked on the family farm until he entered Phillips Academy at age 21, and then received a B.A. from Yale College in 1811. While teaching school he began the compilation of several gazetteers and textbooks in geography and history. In 1828 he published a revision of Samuel Johnson's famous Dictionary of the English Language and the next year, under the direction of Noah Webster's son-in-law, Chauncey Goodrich, he edited an abridged version of Webster's American Dictionary of the English Language. On the heels of this work he published his own Comprehensive Pronouncing and Explanatory Dictionary of the English Language (1830), against which Webster leveled a charge of plagiarism, thus beginning an acrimonious rivalry known as the "dictionary wars." His most important work is the Dictionary of the English Language (1860), which reflects traditional British style in contrast to Webster's recognition of American vocabulary, spelling, and usage.
The Cambridge Dictionary of American Biography, by John S. Bowman. Copyright © Cambridge University Press 1995. Reproduced with permission.
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