A generic name used for many dictionaries. The name was originally derived from the name of one of the first dictionaries of American English compiled by Noah Webster, but after Webster's death, and the passage of his original work into the public domain, there were many other copycat dictionaries published under this name or variations on it. The G. & C. Merriam Company had acquired the rights to Noah Webster's dictionary before this time, and had been publishing a series of dictionaries originally derived from it, and they were understandably upset over these copycats so close in name. At some point they tried to sue some of these dictionary makers over the name, but lost the suit, and as a result, now, anybody can use the name Webster on a dictionary.

The Merriam Co. changed the name of its dictionaries (and later the name of the company) to Merriam-Webster, and this is the company responsible for the dictionaries mentioned in yam's writeup.

See Also
Webster 1913
Merriam-Webster's New International Dictionary, Second Edition
Merriam-Webster's Third New International Dictionary
Merriam-Webster's Collegiate Dictionary, Tenth Edition

Noah Webster produced many an English Dictionary. His intent was to create the first dictionary of American English. A brief chronology thereof would be :

  • 1758 : Noah Webster is born
  • 1783 : A Grammatical Institute of the English Language: Part I
  • 1788 : A Grammatical Institute renamed The American Spelling Book and nicknamed The Blue-Backed Speller. 24 million copies sold.
  • 1806 : A Compendious Dictionary of the English Language. pp 408 + xxiii. 355 of dictionary. 37,000 entries.
  • 1828 : An American Dictionary of the English Language (70,000 entries) ($20 new)
  • 1841 : An American Dictionary of the English Language, Corrected and Enlarged ($15 new)
  • 1843 : Noah Webster dies. G&C Merriam buys rights to his stuff
  • 1847 : An American Dictionary of the English Language, New Revised Edition (80,000+ entries) ($6 new)
  • 1859 : Revised and Enlarged Edition of An American Dictionary of the English Language (added pictorial illustrations)
  • 1864 : An American Dictionary of the English Language, Royal Quarto Edition, Unabridged. (a.k.a. Webster's Unabridged) (119,000 entries)
  • 1878 : Webster's Unabridged (1864) + biographical dictionary + 4600 word suppliment
  • 1884 : Webster's Unabridged (1878) + dictionary of place names
  • 1890 : Webster's International Dictionary, Unabridged. (175,000 entries)
  • 1898 : Webster's Collegiate Dictionary (much abridged).
  • 1900 : Webster's International plus 25,000 word, 283 page, supppliment.
  • 1909 : Webster's New International Dictionary (400,000 entries)
  • 1910 : Webster's Collegiate Dictionary Second Edition.
  • 1916 : Webster's Collegiate Dictionary Third Edition.
  • 1931 : Webster's Collegiate Dictionary Fourth Edition.
  • 1934 : Webster's New International Dictionary, Second Edition (550,000 to 600,000 entries)
  • 1936 : Webster's Collegiate Dictionary Fifth Edition.
  • 1949 : Webster's Collegiate Dictionary Sixth Edition.
  • 1961 : Webster's Third New International Dictionary (500,000+ entries)
  • 1963 : Webster's Collegiate Dictionary Seventh Edition.
  • 1982 : G&C Merriam co. renamed Merriam-Webster Inc.
  • 20XX : Fourth New International Dictionary

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