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Dr. Johnson's Dictionary

This year marks the three hundredth anniversary of the birth of Samuel Johnson, the great pioneer of English-language lexicography. To celebrate, the Beinecke Rare Book & Manuscript Library at Yale University has launched Dr. Johnson's Dictionary, which presents a word a day from Johnsons landmark Dictionary of the English Language (1755). Words are taken from the annotated proof copy of the first edition held at Beinecke, adorned with handwritten corrections by Johnson and his helpers. Some early selections follow below.

ABRO'ACH. adv. [See To BROACH.]
1. In a posture to run out; to yield the liquor contained; properly spoken of vessels.

The Templer spruce, while ev'ry spout's abroach
Stays till 'tis fair, yet seems to call a coach. Swift's Miscel.
The jars of gen'rous wine, (Acestes' gift,
When his Trinacrian shores the navy left)
He set abroach, and for the feast prepar'd,
In equal portions with the ven'son shar'd.
Dryden's Virgil's Aeneid ,vol. ii.

2. In a figurative sense; in a state to be diffused or advanced; in a state of such beginning as promises a progress.

That man, that sits within a monarch's heart,
And ripens in the sunshine of his favour,
Would he abuse the count'nance of the king,
Alack! what mischiefs might be set abroach,
In shadow of such greatness! Shakespeare's Henry IV. p. ii.

A'DAGE. n.s. [adagium, Lat.] A maxim handed down from antiquity; a proverb.

Shallow, unimproved intellects, that are confident pretenders
to certainty; as if, contrary to the adage, science had no friend
but ignorance. Glanville's Scepsis Scientifica, c.2.

Fine fruits of learning! old ambitious fool,
Dar'st apply that adage of the school;
As if 'tis nothing worth that lies conceal'd;
And science is not science 'til reveal'd? Dryd. Pers. Sat. i.

Æ'GLOGUE. n.s. [written instead of eclogue, from a mistaken etymology.] A pastoral; a dialogue in verse between goat-herds.

Which moved him rather in æglogues otherwise to write,
doubting, perhaps, his ability, which he little needed, or mind-
ing to furnish our tongue with this kind wherein it faulteth.
Spenser's Pastorals.

A'FTERGAME. n.s. [from after and game.] The scheme which may be laid, or the expedients which are practised after the original design has miscarried; methods taken after the first turn of affairs.

This earl, like certain vegetables, did bud and open slowly;
nature sometimes delighting to play an aftergame, as well as
fortune, which had both their turns and tides in course. Wotton.

The fables of the ax-handle and the wedge, serve to precau-
tion us not to put ourselves needlessly upon an aftergame, but
to weight beforehand what we say and do. L'Estrange's Fab.
Our first design, my friend, has prov'd abortive;
Still there remains an aftergame to play. Addison's Cato.


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Sunday January 18th 2009, 11:15 AM
Comment by: Mary Louise (PHOENIX, AZ)
I'm a new member. I'm not sure I understand this particular blog (Dr. Johnson's website).
Not yet familiar with the navigation of this site quite yet.
Tuesday March 3rd 2009, 3:58 PM
Comment by: Gillian M.
Aftergame - what a find! Have often wondered what it is that happens after a project plan fails....
Saturday April 4th 2009, 1:17 PM
Comment by: A. Z.
What if the project plan fails?
Saturday April 4th 2009, 5:51 PM
Comment by: A. Z.
Aftergame- how awesome is that! But what if the project plan does fail...

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What would Samuel Johnson think of a new online dictionary?
Peter Roget, like Samuel Johnson before him, was more than a little obsessive.
Dr. Johnson had grand plans to reform spelling that were never realized.