Spoiler alert: You might need a dictionary to complete today’s Crossword! We will provide you with definitions, and you have to guess which words we are referring to.
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Did you ever wonder how dictionaries – marvelous books that instantly enlighten and clarify – came to be? According to Oxford English Dictionary’s website, the number of words used in English more than doubled between 1500 and 1650. At the time, London was becoming an urban city – its population increased by eight times over these years.
Many of the new words were borrowed by English speakers from Greek or Latin during the Renaissance, or from far-off lands visited by travellers and traders. With printed matter becoming more easily accessible, and the emergence of grammar schools, it was the perfect time for the creation of the English dictionary.
In fact, a schoolmaster named Robert Cawdrey is credited with creating a wordlist for his students in 1604 that could be considered the first ever English dictionary.
However, most early dictionaries were bilingual and served a practical need – Latin-English dictionaries for example, were used by people in various professions, such as medicine and law.
Today’s dictionaries, especially digital ones, hold practically every word under the sun. But the earliest dictionaries were more specific – they contained only difficult words and simplified them for readers. For instance, some inclusions dealt with technical terms and foreign language words that were used by traders but not known to everyone.
Do you still refer to the dictionary when you are confused by a word or need some clarity? Play today’s Crossword and let us know at firstname.lastname@example.org.