Education: Vox Populi, Vox Webster

When he set out in 1746 to write the first great English dictionary. Samuel Johnson intended his definitions to be laws that would firmly establish meanings. But usage thumbs its nose at laws; the dictionary nowadays is more a Social Register of words than a Supreme Court of language. In the 27 years since the G. & C. Merriam Co. published the Second Edition of its unabridged Webster's New International Dictionary, thousands of new words have clamored to be listed. Last week, after investing $3,500,000 and 757 "editor-years," Merriam responded with a brand-new...

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