August 7, 2008

English monolingual dictionary

Keen-eyed users will have noted that you can now search the (public domain) 1913 edition of the Webster Unabridged Dictionary on this site. This is one of the tools used in compiling the French-English dictionary; I decided to make the search publicly available essentially because I "may as well". At the moment, the interface is somewhat crude, but crude interface or not, the dictionary contains over 100,000 entries and is still a valuable reference.

Because the dictionary is old, certain definitions clearly don't reflect modern usage (see entries for car, van and computer, for example), whilst other words are simply non-existent. And certain of the examples, already belonging to somewhat literary language at the time, are now positively absolete. But it turns out that the meanings of many of the "difficult" or lesser known words that we sometimes need to look up while reading an English text have changed very little in the last century.

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