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Modernized English headwords


Lexicons of Early Modern English (LEME) is a historical database of monolingual, bilingual, and polyglot dictionaries, lexical encyclopedias, hard-word glossaries, spelling lists, and lexically-valuable treatises surviving in print or manuscript from about 1475 to 1755. Texts of word-entries whose headword (source) or explanation (target) language is English tell us what speakers of English thought about their tongue in the period are served by the Short-title, Wing, and ESTC catalogues,. Their lexical insights, which may at times seem misguided to us, shaped the history of our living tongue. Any contemporary's testimony about the meaning of his own words has an undeniable authority. For this reason, LEME is not a period dictionary like The Middle English Dictionary or the yet unrealized Early Modern English period dictionary. The scholar who proposed the latter, Charles C. Fries, would have recognized LEME to be a source of "contemporary comments" that illustrate word usage. What Fries could not have imagined eighty years ago was a technology that would store all these quotations as distinct word-entries in searchable form. LEME incorporates some of what he hoped to create.

Lexical information takes many forms in this period because the dictionary was an emerging genre. The notion of an English-only, monolingual lexicon was late in coming. Only in 1623, with Henry Cockeram's hard-word lexicon, did the term "dictionary" (first employed in English by Sir Thomas Elyot in 1538 for a bilingual lexicon) acquire a sense like that we take for granted today. Historical lexicons also take many different forms. Most LEME lexical texts have word-entries that open with a headword and close with an explanation of that headword, but explanations of words also appear inside informative treatises and literary editions with marginal glosses or notes that explain terminology. Encyclopedic or topical works, such as herbals and books of reference in medicine or law, sometimes offer logical definitions of things in subject-complement ("is-a") form.

Why compile a database of old dictionaries when English has the great Oxford English Dictionary? It gives an authoritative scientific account of the history and meaning of all English words, based on corpus-linguistic principles. That is, quotations support every definition. The  OED grows with the English language. Even a monumental work that covers 1500 years, however, necessarily selects lexical evidence. Jürgen Schäfer observed that Early Modern English quotations in the first edition of the OED predominantly come from major authors and overlook information in monolingual glossaries. Clarendon Press published Schäfer's Early Modern English Lexicography in 1989. It surveys 133 printed glossaries to 1640 and provides new evidence for 5,000 OED entries. The OED has expanded its coverage of authors, thanks to Schäfer's achievement. Yet he does not provide the electronic data on which his extracts are based; and any English lexical expression in the explanations of huge bilingual dictionaries by the likes of Cotgrave, Florio, Minsheu, and Thomas Thomas, is hard to find and thus easily overlooked.

Versions of LEME

The primary LEME database offers simple and advanced searches, including regular-expression and sub-string queries, and proximity and Boolean searches. The size of search contexts is adjustable. Queries on the lexical database may be restricted by date, author, title, type of lexical work, and subject. A complete word-list of the lexical database may be browsed. An index to over 1,400 known lexical works in the period may be searched by date, author, title, subject, and genre. 

There are two kinds of work in the LEME lexical database: analyzed and unanalyzed.

Analyzed lexical works have been editorially segmented by headword, explanation, sub-headwords, sub-explanations, and cross-references. Their words are all encoded by language. Where possible, their English headwords have been lemmatized so that variant spellings of the headwords can be searched and retrieved together. Analyzed lexical works can also be displayed, page by page, entry by entry. The plain texts can be freely downloaded. Each analyzed word-entry has a permanent URL so that an online scholarly edition, dictionary, or critical work can cite a LEME word-entry in confidence that any online reader will be able to retrieve it.

A few yet unanalyzed lexical works cannot be displayed, searches on them are global rather than restrictable, and their word-entries lack any permanent URL. LEME often includes a lexical work, in advance of its analysis, because more readers will want the opportunity to search a lexicon than to read one, entry by entry, given that EEBO/TCP and several well-known facsimile series make the texts of historical lexicons available as books or images of books.

Knowing the position of a retrieved term in any word-entry is advantageous. For example, any term retrieved from a headword position in a monolingual English dictionary or glossary will usually be the direct subject of that entry. In this instance, a lexicographer explains an English word forthrightly, as Henry Cockeram (1623) does in the word-entry, "Death. Mortality." Any English term retrieved from the explanation position in a bilingual or polyglot lexicon, on the other hand, generally translates a foreign-language word. Such English terms are not the raison-d'être of the word-entry. That an English word corresponds to a foreign-language term helps us normally only if we understand that other language. The entry, "Castillo a castell," in John Thorius' rendering of a Spanish lexicon by Anthony de Corro, for instance, only helps us understand English "castell" if we know the meaning of the Spanish headword independently. Other corresponding English terms in the explanation segment of a bilingual lexicon, of course, are sometimes synonyms for the English word that is the subject of the query. However, the multiple senses of foreign-language words that are not semantically related in English itself may bring together English terms in an explanation. Consider John Florio's word-entry in 1598:

Famigliare, to set vp houshold, to become familiar, to tame. Also familiar, tame, gentle, acquainted, conuersant, a houshold guest. 

When two people decided to live together in Elizabethan England, they did not necessarily intend to "tame" one another, Shakespeare's The Taming of the Shrew notwithstanding. Collocational proximity of English words in the explanation segment of a foreign-language lexicon does not guarantee their synonymity.

LEME enables readers to limit searches to different genres of lexical works, such as hard-word dictionaries on the one hand, and bilingual and polyglot dictionaries on the other. A word is marked differently by different lexical genres. If interested in new words introduced into English from other tongues, look at hard-word lexicons. To find the vocabulary of the mother tongue, consider the English words employed in bilingual and polyglot lexicons. Foreign-language dictionaries normally use common, well-accepted English words to explain foreign vocabulary.

The LEME database includes a primary bibliography of 1400 early works known to have lexical information about English. The 250 works in LEME thus are somewhat under eighteen percent of the lexical works of the Early Modern period. This total does not include the multiple versions or editions through which these texts went. The primary bibliography of all these lexical works  are indexed by author, title, date, subject, and genre. The bibliographical entries served by these indexes give an example of the lexical content of the work and as full a coverage of secondary literature about it as possible.

Simple search requests often give a reader hundreds of word-entries. The Modern Headwords word-index and search in LEME gives the reader only those word-entries that explicitly explain the search-term. Modern Headwords retrieves word-entries that have a headword in multiple alternate spellings, forms, and inflections. Headwords may be selected manually from a ready-made list. English ones can be retrieved both in alphabetical order and by part of speech. The analyzed part of the lexical database, in this way, gives readers a way of reducing the quantity of word-entries retrieved, and at the same time of increasing their relevance. The Modern Headwords word-list resembles the collected headwords in a regular dictionary. 

LEME accepts the spelling of headwords in the Oxford English Dictionary as standard modern spellings because the Early Modern period lacks any accepted spelling system. This rule-of-thumb has some odd effects. It retains old spellings such as "murther" (which has a different OED headword from "murder") and abandons ones like "church-esset" (which becomes "church-scot"). Lemmatization also reduces inflected forms to a standard inflection. For example, it converts all forms of a verb to the infinitive (except present participles that are used as nouns, and past particles that are used as adjectives), and the plural and genitive forms of a noun to the nominative case.

Editorial Procedures

The base text of any LEME lexical text is normally its earliest edition. A later edition may be substituted if it is more readily available. LEME bases its transcriptions on EEBO images of these texts, on published facsimiles, and on originals. Substantially different versions of the same work may be entered separately. 

Transcriptions retain original spelling, capitalization, and pointing or punctuation. For example, u and v, and i and j, are kept as they appear in the original. The following exceptions to this general practice hold: variant forms of s, r, / (virgule), end-of-line hyphen (= or -), and & (ampersand) are normalized to their modern forms; capital or long-I is represented as I, and capital ff as F; y with a superior dot becomes y; and all ligatures except æ and œ are separated. Capitalization varies widely from manuscript to manuscript. What, in general, may and may not be a capital (for example, the large form of A found in certain court hands) is determined by its presence or absence in medial position. Greek and Hebrew characters and ligatures are reproduced as faithfully as possible. Transcriptions record, in tags found in the underlying text, what forms of script (Anglicana or court hand, secretary, italic, round, etc.) and typeface (black letter, italic, roman, lapidary or monumental, etc.) are used at any point in a text but does not render the original script or typeface in the displayed text itself.

Format is displayed only where it has functional significance. For example, paragraphing and lists are retained, but lineation is determined by the size of the display screen, and soft hyphens are not shown and do not cause a new line-break. Columns, hanging words, and the text of running titles, signatures, and catchwords are not retained, although folio and page numbers, and signatures appear in pagination tag. (We try to keep original lineation, however, in the underlying encoded text for ease of proofreading.) Tables present special problems: LEME reformats tabular word-entries so that they may be read.

Some normalization occurs. Variation in the space separating two words is normalized to a single space. Sometimes faint printing has left certain pairs of characters confused (such as f and long-s, e, c, and t, and u and n), although in context only one is possible. In these instances, which can be very numerous in some printed works, the correct letter is silently preferred rather than an incorrect letter that would require emendation.

Abbreviations and contractions are expanded but are indicated in the text by coloured highlighting. A code for a brevigraph in the original appears in a tag surrounding the expansion in the underlying source text. The interpretation of a code for a brevigraph in the underlying encoded text may vary from one work to another because the practices of scribes and compositors vary. A few very common marks of abbreviation, particularly those still current now -- such as ampersand and types of money -- are unexpanded.

Editorial emendations and letters supplied for damaged text are noted in the underlying source text and marked by a colour change in its text itself. Errata are treated as authorial emendations. A word incorrectly separated into two or more fragments, or two or more words incorrectly joined, are explicitly emended. The original reading and the source of the emendation, if any, appear in a tag surrounding the emendation. Original erroneous readings appear within a tag surrounding the correction in the underlying source text.

Undated printed books are dated according to STC or Wing. Manuscript texts generally are dated by limits.

Identification of sources for quotations or citations, and of proper and place names, is not yet attempted. A word-search will bring up all word-entries from preceding lexical works from which a word-entry may have been copied. LEME does not translate words or passages from non-English languages into English.

The source text underlying a word-entry in the database shows the XML-like tagging by which segmentation and editorial functions are managed. The two formal XML schemas into which texts are converted for distribution and archiving are described elsewhere under the Help menu.

The standard LEME model for word-entries imposes a minimalist structure: a form (with an editorially-encoded headword or lexeme), an explanation, and possibly a cross-reference, a sub-form and a sub-explanation, and a class type. Term tags identify language changes from one word to another. Word-entries are gathered within word-groups, and (where useful) word-groups into sections. This model does not imply much about a lexical theory held by any Early Modern English lexicographer. An "explanation" may includes translated equivalents, synonyms, logical definitions (of things), conceptualizations, etymologies, and even anecdotal digressions. LEME does not usually assign different senses to the post-lemmatic words and phrases in the explanation. LEME makes as few modern assumptions about lexical meaning as possible.

Anyone quoting passages from LEME is encouraged to check them against an EEBO facsimile. We do our best but cannot guarantee accuracy. If we are informed of a mistake, we will correct it.

History of LEME

Twenty-nine years ago, Gail Richardson and I began work on what is now LEME with John Palsgrave's Lesclarcissement (1530), a large English-French dictionary dedicated to Henry VIII. Randle Cotgrave's French-English dictionary (1611) joined the Palsgrave in time for the 1992 ICAME conference at Nijmegen. Four more works were in place by the following year: Latin-English dictionaries by Sir Thomas Elyot (1538) and Thomas Thomas (1587), an Italian-English dictionary by William Thomas (1550), and an English hard-word lexicon by Robert Cawdrey (1604). John Florio's first Italian-English lexicon (1598) and Henry Cockeram's English dictionary (1623) were added by 1994. Two years later, the Early Modern English Dictionaries Database (EMEDD) went online at the Centre for Computing in the Humanities in Toronto with Palsgrave, the two Thomases, John Minsheu's Spanish-English lexicon (1599), John Bullokar's hard-word English dictionary (1616), and Thomas Blount's Glossographia (1656). By 1999, in its final form, EMEDD was supplemented with scientific glossaries by Bartholomew Traheron (1543) and John Garfield (1657), William Turner's herbal of 1548, Richard Mulcaster's word-list (1582), and Edmund Coote's hard-word glossary (1596).

EMEDD was free. It enabled registered researchers to do single-word and proximity searches on one or all of these lexicons. Word-entries were retrieved from an Open Text Corporation Pat textbase of about 200,000 word-entries in all. Small to very large contexts were allowed, and a total of 100 hits was permitted for each search. Texts were segmented by word-entry in order to be processed by Pat and output with Patterweb, an interface developed by my former student Mark Catt.

The design of LEME texts has changed over time. Influenced by the Text-Encoding Initiative, they were at first intended to be SGML-encoded diplomatic transcriptions of single copies of original editions. Especially with online access to facsimile images of texts in EEBO, as well as the influence of the Text Encoding Initiative (which did not recommend capturing display features), I adjusted both text-entry and encoding to the needs of a database. The more lexical works in the database, the less prescriptive LEME's model had to become.

A four-year grant by the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada enabled me to begin LEME in 2000. In the next few years, the University of Toronto Library and I started building the LEME database. For eight years Dr. Marc Plamondon was our programmer, supervised by Sian Meikle and myself. By mid-2004, a very generous sub-grant from the Geoffrey Rockwell's TAPoR project at McMaster University, part of a six-institution Canada Foundation for Innovation (CFI) grant, enabled us to produce the alpha version of LEME for release to that network of partners in November 2004. This became a beta-version in mid-2005. Another grant from SSHRC in early 2005 further increased the pace of LEME data-entry and programming. The University of Toronto Press and Library formally launched LEME on April 12, 2006.

Public funding, the strong support of colleagues in peer review, and partnership with the University of Toronto Library and Press (thanks to the unflagging support of Carole Moore, the Chief Librarian) made LEME possible. Its public accessibility arises from the process of its making. Its initial licensing arose from the requirements of the granting agency. We owe the second version of LEME (2018) again to the University of Toronto Library (especially Sian Meikle, Director of ITS, and the Chief Librarian, Larry Alford), the University of Toronto Press, and SSHRC. 

LEME is far from the work of one person. It is built on the hard work of over 90 people, including programmers, donars, colleagues, graduate students, and a wonderful host of  undergraduate research assistants. Their enthusiasm buoyed me for over thirty years. Their expertise, their collegiality and faith in this project, the unflagging professional diligence with which they marshalled these lexical texts, and the heart-warming personal encouragement they gave me over some lean years have made me possibly the most fortunate computing humanist of my generation. 

My own personal efforts in all this, I dedicate to Anne Begor Lancashire.

Select General Bibliography

Journals and Databases

Bibliographie der Wörterbücher. Bibliography of dictionaries. Warszawa, Wydawnictwa Naukowo-Techniczne.

Bibliography of Linguistic Literature. Aachen: Semantics Kommunikationsmanagement GmbH, 2006-

Database of Latin Dictionaries. Brepols Publishers NV.

Dictionaries: Journal of the Dictionary Society of North America. 1988-.

International Journal of Lexicography. Oxford: OUP.

Lexicographica: International Annual for Lexicography. De Gruyter, 1986-.

Oxford English Dictionary Online.


Alston, R. C. A Bibliography of the English Language from the Invention of Printing to the Year 1800. 18 vols. Leeds and Otley, 1965-2004.

Cordell Collection, Indiana State University . Catalog of Dictionaries, Word Books, and Philological Texts, 1440-1900: Inventory of the Cordell Collection, Indiana State University. Ed. David E. Vancil. Westport, Conn.: Greenwood Press, 1993.

Cordell, Warren N. A Short-Title Catalogue of the Warren N. and Suzanne B. Cordell Collection of Dictionaries. Terre Haute, Indiana: Cunningham Memorial Library, Indiana State University, 1975.

ESTC. The English Short-Title Catalogue

Fisiak, Jacke, ed. A Bibliography of Writings for the History of the English Language. 1st edn. 1983. 2nd edn. Berlin: Mouton de Gruyter, 1987.

Gabrielson, Arvid. "Professor Kennedy's Bibliography of Writings on the English Language. A Review with a List of Additions and Corrections." Studia Neophilologica 2 (1929): 117-68.

Kennedy, Arthur Garfield. A Bibliography on Writings on the English Language from the Beginning of Printing to the End of 1922. Cambridge, Mass: Harvard University Press, 1927.

Lancashire, Ian. "Lexicography in the Early Modern English Period: the Manuscript Record." Historical Lexicography. Eds. Julie Coleman and Anne McDermott. Tübingen: Max Niermeyer, 2005. J. Coleman and A. McDermott (2005): 19-30. 

Liberman, Anatoly. "An Annotated Survey of English Etymological Dictionaries and Glossaries." Dictionaries. n.p.: n.p., 1998. 21-96.

Mitchell, William S. Catalogue of the Heslop Collection of Dictionaries in the Library. Newcastle upon Tyne: King's College Library, 1955.

Murphy, James J., and Lawrence D. Green. Renaissance Rhetoric: Short-title Catalogue 1460-1700. 1981. second edn. Aldershot: Ashgate, 2006.

O'Neill, Robert Keating, ed. English-Language Dictionaries, 1604-1900. The Catalog of the Warren N. and Suzanne B. Cordell Collection. New York: Greenwood Press, 1988.

Pollard, A. W., and G. R. Redgrave. A Short Title Catalogue of Books Printed in England, Scotland, & Ireland, and of English Books Printed Abroad, 1475-1640. Eds. William A. Jackson, F. S. Ferguson, and Katherine F. Pantzer. 2nd edn. 2 vols. . London: The Bibliographical Society, 1976, 1986, 1991.

Symons, L. Eleanor. A Bibliography of English-French and French-English Dictionaries to 1800. London: University of London, School of Librarianship and Archives, 1949.

Tonelli, Giorgio, Eugenio Canone, and Margherita Margherita . A Short-title List of Subject Dictionaries of the Sixteenth, Seventeenth and Eighteenth Centuries. Firenze: L. S. Olschki, 2006.

Vancil, David E., ed. Incunable Dictionaries: A Checklist and Publishing History. Terre Haute, Indiana: Friends of the Cunningham Memorial Library, 1994.

Wing, Donald. Short-Title Catalogue of Books Printed in England, Scotland, Ireland, Wales, and British America, and of English Books Printed in Other Countries, 1641-1700. 2nd edn. 2 vols. . New York: The Index Committee of the Modern Language Association of America, 1972, 1982.

Early Modern English

Alston, R. C. A Bibliography of the English Language from the Invention of Printing to the Year 1800. Leeds: Scolar Press, 1970.

Vol. 3, Part I: Old English, Middle English, Early Modern English, Miscellaneous Works, Vocabulary

Vol. 5: The English Dictionary.

Barber, Charles L. Early Modern English. The Language Library. London and Edinburgh: Deutsch and Edinburgh University Press, 1976.

Cusack, Bridget, ed. Everyday English 1500-1700: A Reader. Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press, 1998.

Dobson, Eric J. English Pronunciation 1500-1700. 1957. 2nd edn. Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1968.

Durkin, Philip. Borrowed Words: A History of Loanwords in English. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2014. 

Gneuss, Helmut. English Language Scholarship: A Survey and Bibliography from the Beginnings to the End of the Nineteenth Century. Binghampton: Medieval and Renaissance Texts and Studies, 1996. 

Görlach, Manfred. Introduction to Early Modern English. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1991.

Lass, Roger, ed. The Cambridge History of the English Language. Volume III: 1476-1776. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1999. 

Nevalainen, Terttu and Helena Raumolin-Brunberg, eds. Sociolinguistics and Language History: Studies Based on the Corpus of Early English Correspondence. Language and Computers: Studies in Practical Linguistics 15. Amsterdam: Rodopi, 1996.

Nevalainen, Terttu. "Early Modern English Lexis and Semantics." The Cambridge History of the English Language. Volume III: 1476-1776. Ed. Roger Lass. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1999. 332-458.

Nevalainen, Terttu. Historical Sociolinguistics: Language Change in Tudor and Stuart England . London: Longman, 2003.

Nurmi, Arja. Manual for the Corpus of Early English Correspondence Sampler. n.p.: Department of English, University of Helsinki, 1998.

Salmon, Vivian. Language and Society in Early Modern England: Selected Essays 1981-1994. Ed. Konrad Koerner. Amsterdam: Benjamins, 1996.

Early Modern Lexicographers

Ashgate Critical Essays on Early English Lexicographers. Volume 2: Middle English. Volume 3: The Sixteenth Century. Volume 4: The Seventeenth Century. Volume 5: The Eighteenth Century. Farnham, Surrey: Ashgate, 2012. 

Baron, Dennis E. Going Native: The Regeneration of Saxon English. Publications of the American Dialect Society, 69. University, Alabama: n.p., 1982.

Berkhout, Carl T. and Milton McC. Gatch, eds. Anglo-Saxon scholarship: the First Three Centuries. Boston, Mass.: G. K. Hall, 1982.

Graham, Timothy, ed. The Recovery of Old English: Anglo-Saxon Studies in the Sixteenth and Seventeenth Centuries. Kalamazoo, MI: Medieval Institute, Western Michigan University, 2000.

James, Gregory, ed. Lexicographers and Their Works. Exeter: University of Exeter, 1989

ODNB. Oxford Dictionary of National Biography. Ed. Lawrence Goldman. Online edition ( Oxford: Oxford University Press, January 2006-.


Arber, Agnes. Herbals: Their Origin and Evolution: A Chapter in the History of Botany, 1470-1670. 1912. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1938.

Burchfield, R. W., and James A. H. Murray. "The Evolution of English Lexicography By James A. H. Murray: The Romanes Lecture, 1900." International Journal of Lexicography 6.2 (1993): 89-122.

Coleman, Julie. A History of Cant and Slang Dictionaries. Vol. I: 1567-1784. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2004.

Devitt, Amy J. Standardizing Written English. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1989.

Green, Jonathan. Chasing the Sun: Dictionary-makers and the Dictionaries they Made. London: Jonathan Cape, 1996.

Hüllen, Werner. English Dictionaries 800-1700: The Topical Tradition. Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1999.

Jones, Richard Foster. The Triumph of the English Language. London: Oxford University Press, 1953.

Kibbee, Douglas A. For to speke Frenche trewely. The French Language in England, 1000-1600: Its Status, Description and Instruction. Amsterdam: Benjamin, 1991.

O'Connor, Desmond. A History of Italian and English Dictionaries. Biblioteca dell' `archivium romanum' fondata da Giulio Bertoni, serie ii, linguistica, 46. Florence: Leo S. Olschki, 1990.

Starnes, De Witt Talmage. Renaissance Dictionaries, English-Latin and Latin-English. Austin, Texas: University of Texas Press, 1954.

Stein, Gabriele. The English Dictionary before Cawdrey. Tübingen: Niemeyer, 1985.

Linguistic Corpora

Kytö, Merja, ed. Manual to the Diachronic Part of the Helsinki Corpus of English Texts: Coding Conventions and Source Texts. 3rd edn. Helsinki: Department of English, University of Helsinki, 1996.

Meurman-Solin, Anneli, ed. The Helsinki Corpus of Older Scots. n.p.: The International Computer Archive of Modern and Medieval English, 1995.

Meurman-Solin, Anneli. Variation and Change in Early Scottish Prose: Studies Based on the Helsinki Corpus of Older Scots. Annales Academiae Scientiarum Fennicae. Dissertationes humanarum litterarum, 65. Helsinki: Suomalainen Tiedeakatemia, 1993.

Rissanen, Matti, Merja Kytö, and Minna Palander-Collin, eds. Early English in the Computer Age: Explorations through the Helsinki Corpus. Berlin: Mouton de Gruyter, 1993.

Modern English Period Dictionaries

Aitken, A. J. "The Period Dictionaries." Studies in Lexicography. Ed. Robert Burchfield. Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1987. 94-116. 

Aitken, A. J. and William A. Craigie, eds. A Dictionary of the Older Scottish Tongue, from the Twelfth Century to the End of the Seventeenth. 12 vols. Chicago and London: Oxford University Press and Chicago University Press, 1931-2002.

Bailey, Richard W. "Charles C. Fries and the Early Modern English Dictionary." Toward an Understanding of Language: Charles Carpenter Fries in Perspective. Ed. Nancy M. Fries. Amsterdam: Benjamins, 1985. 171-204.

Bailey, Richard W. "Progress toward a Dictionary of Early Modern English 1475-1700." Proceedings of the Second International Roundtable on Historical Lexicography. Eds. W. Pijnenburg and F. de Tollenaare. Dordrecht: Foris, 1980.

Bailey, Richard W., ed. Early Modern English: Additions and Antedatings to the Record of English Vocabulary 1475-1700. New York: Georg Olms Verlag, 1978.

Bailey, R. W. "Materials for the History of the Oxford English Dictionary." Dictionaries 8 (1986): 175-250.

Finkenstaedt, Thomas, Ernst Leisi, and Dieter Wolff, eds. A Chronological English Dictionary: Listing 80 000 Words in Order of their Earliest Known Occurrence. Heidelberg: Winter, 1970.

Finkenstaedt, Thomas, and others. Ordered Profusion: Studies in Dictionaries and the English Lexicon. Annales Universitatis Saraviensis, Reihe: Philosophische Fakultät 13. Heidelberg: Winter, 1973.

Fries, C. C. "The Early Modern English Dictionary." The University of Michigan: An Encyclopedic Survey. Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press, 1951.

Fries, Peter H. "C. C. Fries' View of Language and Linguistics." Toward an Understanding of Language: Charles Carpenter Fries in Perspective. Eds. Peter Howard Fries and Nancy M. Fries. Amsterdam: John Benjamins, 1987. 63-83.

MED. Middle English Dictionary. Online edition ( Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press, 2001.

Mugglestone, Lynda, ed. Lexicography and the OED: Pioneers in the Untrodden Forest. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2000.

OED. Oxford English Dictionary. Second (online) edition ( Oxford: Oxford English Dictionary, 2006-.

Schäfer, Jürgen. Documentation in the OED: Shakespeare and Nashe as Test Cases. Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1980.

Schäfer, Jürgen. Early Modern English Lexicography. 2 vols. Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1989.

Skeat, W. W. A Glossary of Tudor and Stuart Words. Ed. A. L. Mayhew. Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1914.

Skeat, W. W., ed. Reprinted Glossaries. English Dialect Society, Series B, vol. 2, 3, no. 1. n.p.: N. Trübner, 1873-79.

Wright, Joseph, ed. The English Dialect Dictionary. London: Froude, 1898-1905.

Wright, Robert. A Second Volume of Vocabularies, Illustrating the Condition and Manners of our Forefathers, as well as the History of the Forms of Elementary Education and of the Languages Spoken in this Island, from the Tenth Century to the Fifteenth. [London]: privately printed, 1873.

Wright, Thomas. A Volume of Vocabularies Illustrating the Condition and Manners of our Forefathers, as well as the history of the forms of elementary education and of the languages spoken in this island, from the Tenth Century to the Fifteenth. Liverpool: privately printed, 1857.

Non-English Dictionary Traditions

Alston, R. C. A Bibliography of the English Language from the Invention of Printing to the Year 1800. 18 vols. Leeds and Otley, 1965-2004. 

Vol. 2: Polyglot Dictionaries and Grammars - Treatises on English Written for Speakers of French, German, Dutch, Danish, Swedish, Portuguese, Spanish, Italian, Hungarian, Persian.

Vol. 12, Part I: The French Language, Grammars Miscellaneous Treatises Dictionaries.

Vol. 12, Part II: The Italian, Spanish, Portuguese and Romanish Languages, Grammars, Dictionaries Miscellaneous Treatises.

Vol. 13: The Germanic Languages.

Vol. 14: The British Isles Hebrew Eastern Europe - Africa South Asia - Australasia The Americas - Pacific Islands.

Osselton, N. E. The Dumb Linguists. A Study of the Earliest English and Dutch Dictionaries. Publications of the Sir Thomas Browne Institute, Leiden, Special Series 5. Leiden: n.p., 1973.

Simonini, R. C., Jr. Italian Scholarship in Renaissance England. Chapel Hill, N.C.: University of North Carolina Press, 1952.

Starnes, De Witt Talmage. Robert Estienne's Influence on Lexicography. Austin: University of Texas Press, 1963.

Starnes, Dewitt T., and Ernest William Talbert. Classical Myth and Legend in Renaissance Dictionaries; A Study of Renaissance Dictionaries in their Relation to the Classical Learning of Contemporary English Writers. Chapel Hill, N.C.: University of North Carolina Press, 1955.

Subject Dictionaries

Adams, Thomas R., and David W. Waters. English Maritime Books Printed before 1801: Relating to Ships, their Construction and their Operation at Sea: Including Articles in the Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society and the Transactions of the American Philosophical Society. Providence and Greenwich: John Carter Brown Library, 1995. Axford, Lavonne Brady. English Language Cookery Books, 1600-1973. Detroit: Gale, 1976.

Alston, R. C. A Bibliography of the English Language from the Invention of Printing to the Year 1800. 18 vols. Leeds and Otley, 1965-2004. 

Vol. 6: Rhetoric, Style, Elocution, Prosody, Rhyme, Pronunciation, Spelling Reform. 

Vol. 7: Logic, Philosophy, Epistemology, Universal Language. 

Vol. 8: Treatises on Shorthand. 

Vol. 9: English Dialects, Scottish Dialects, Cant and Vulgar English. 

Vol. 10: Education. Vol. 11: Names. 

Vol. 17: Botany, Horticulture, Agriculture. 

Vol. 18, I: Zoology, Geology, Chemistry, Medicine, Veterinary Medicine, Mathematics, Astronomy

Vol. 18, II: Law, Art, Architecture, Building, Heraldry. 

Bridson, Gavin D. R., Valerie C. Phillips, and A. P. A. P.. Natural History Manuscript Resources in the British Isles. London and New York: Mansell and R. R. Bowker, 1980.

Coleman, Julie. A History of Cant and Slang Dictionaries. Vol. I: 1567-1784. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2004. 

Cowley, John D. "IV. The Law Dictionaries." A Bibliography of Abridgments, Digests, Dictionaries and Indexes of English Law to the Year 1800. London: Selden Society, 1932.

Gotti, Maurizio. The Language of Thieves and Vagabonds: 17th and 18th Century Canting Lexicography in England. Tübingen: Niemeyer, 1999.

Henrey, Blanche. British Botanical and Horticultural Literature before 1800: Comprising a History and Bibliography of Botanical and Horticultural Books Printed in England, Scotland, and Ireland from the Earliest Times until 1800. 2 vols. London: Oxford University Press, 1975.

Liberman, Anatoly. "An Annotated Survey of English Etymological Dictionaries and Glossaries." Dictionaries. n.p.: n.p., 1998. 21-96. 

McConchie, R. W. Lexicography and Physicke: The Record of Sixteenth-century English Medical Terminology. Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1997.

Taavitsainen, Irma. and Paivi Pahta, eds. Medical and Scientific Writing in Late Medieval English . Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2004.

Taylor, E. G. R. The Mathematical Practitioners of Tudor and Stuart England. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press for the Institute of Navigation, 1954.


Anderson, Judith. Words that Matter: Linguistic Perception in Renaissance English. Stanford, Calif.: Stanford University Press, 1996.

Ashworth, E. J. Language and Logic in the Post-medieval Period. Dordrecht and Boston: Reidel, 1974.

Blank, Paula. Broken English: Dialects and the Politics of Language in Renaissance Writings. London and New York: Routledge, 1996.

Cohen, M. Sensible Words: Linguistic Practice in England 1640-1785. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins, 1977. 

Hayashi, Tetsuro. The Theory of English Lexicography 1530-1791. Amsterdam: John Benjamins, 1978.

Mitchell, Linda C. Grammar Wars: Language as Cultural Battlefield in 17th and 18th Century England. Aldershot: Ashgate, 2001.

Moore, J. L. Tudor-Stuart Views on the Growth, Status, and Destiny of the English Language. Halle: Max Niemeyer, 1910.

Plett, H. F. English Renaissance, Rhetoric and Poetics. A Systematic Bibliography of Primary and Secondary Sources. Leyden: Brill, 1995.

Osselton, N. E. Branded Words in English Dictionaries before Johnson. Groningen Studies in English 7. Groningen: J. B. Wolters, 1958.

Osselton, N. E. Chosen Words: Past and Present Problems for Dictionary Makers. Exeter: University of Exeter Press, 1995.

Salmon, Vivian. The Study of Language in 17th-century England. Amsterdam Studies in the History of the Language Sciences 40. 2nd edn. Amsterdam: John Benjamins, 1979, 1989.

Slaughter, Mary M. Universal Languages and Scientific Taxonomy in the Seventeenth Century. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1982.

Tucker, Susie I. English Examined: Two Centuries of Comment on the Mother-tongue . Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1961.

Waswo, Richard. Language and Meaning in the Renaissance. Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1987.