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The Story of Webster's Third

Philip Gove's Controversial Dictionary and Its Critics

by Herbert C. Morton

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Book Review

The publication of Webster's Third New International Dictionary in 1961 set off a storm of intense controversy in both the popular press and in scholarly journals due to widespread disagreements about the nature of language and the role of the dictionary. This is the first full account of the controversy, set within the larger background of how the dictionary was planned and put together by its editor-in-chief, Philip Babcock Gove. This is a human story as well as the story of the making of a dictionary. The author skilfully interweaves an account of Gove's character and working habits with the evolution of the dictionary. In spite of its rocky initial reception, Webster's Third is now widely regarded as one of the greatest dictionaries of our time. Contains the tale of "dord," the mysterious ghost word!

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