by Sarah Ogilvie
We are on the verge of another revolution in dictionary-making. Since the seventeenth century there have been three major revolutions in lexicographic practice. In 1604 Robert Cawdrey produced the first monolingual English dictionary, which was – radically – arranged alphabetically. In the middle of the eighteenth century, Samuel Johnson employed literary citations to illustrate the meaning of the words in his dictionary. And in the nineteenth century, James Murray began to produce the first great historical dictionary, tracking the use of a word over time, and extended the making of dictionaries beyond his Scriptorium of lexicographers working in Oxford by calling on contributions from around the globe. This was an enormous undertaking, and the first edition of the Oxford English Dictionary (OED), begun in 1859, was not completed until 1928 (the second edition followed in 1989, and the third edition, published quarterly online, was begun in 2000).