The Emergence of the English Synonym Dictionary
This chapter looks at the beginnings of what are still pre-theoretical deliberations on synonymy as published by Gabriel Girard (1718). A brief sketch is given of the extraordinary success those deliberations enjoyed on the Continent and also in England. After Samuel Johnson, there is a continuous chain of English synonym dictionaries. Together with the books published in the wake of Girard, they are a parallel trail leading to the publication of Roget’s Thesaurus. They pave the way to 1852, the year in which the Thesaurus was published, and beyond. William Perry (1805), who explains word meanings simply by placing them in the context of synonyms, brings us methodically to Roget’s doorstep. Of course, all these dictionaries differ from Roget’s in being alphabetically ordered.
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