Robert Cawdrey, A Table Alphabetical (1604)
to the reader:
BY this Table (right Honourable & Worshipfull) strangers that blame our tongue of difficultie, and vncertaintie may heereby plainly see, & better vnderstand those things, which they haue thought hard. Heerby also the true Orthography, that is, the true writing of many hard English words, borrowed from the Greeke, Latine & French, and how to know one from the other, with the interpretation thereof by plaine English words, may be learned and knowne. And children heerby may be prepared for the vnderstanding of a great number of Latine words: which also will bring much delight & iudgement to others, by the vse of this little worke. Which worke, long ago for the most part, was gathered by me, but lately augmented by my sonne Thomas, who now is Schoolemaister in London.
SVch as by their place and calling, (but especially Preachers) as haue occasion to speak publiquely before the ignorant people, are to bee admoni-
[fr] ABandon, cast away, or yeelde vp, to
combustible, easily burnt
from Nathaniel Bailey's New Universal Dictionary (4th ed., 1759), an essay on language history:
from Nathaniel Bailey's Dictionarium Britannicum (1730) --
Bailey uses woodcuts to illustrate some words:
A Foreigner finds it very difficult to learn how to pronounce our a, in different Words; it having four distinctly differing Sounds; two long, as in Wake, Wall; and two short, as in Wax, Was, and hardly any Rules how to distinguish them, but what are liable to a greater Number of Exceptions.
The Dipthongs form'd with it are liable to as great Difficulties.
Bailey distinguished astrology and astronomy:
Bailey even gives some advice on WMD:
Some illustrations are basic:
some are more complex, like this illustration of a logarithmic curve:
Samuel Johnson's Dictionary (1755)
The dictionary includes --
Giglet - a wanton
Fireman - a man of violent passions
and these --
peacock is derived from "peak cock, from the tuft of feathers on its head". In fact, the word is based on the Old English bird name pea, in turn derived from the Latin pava.
Johnson defines windward and leeward as synonyms, when in fact they are opposites (he also says that leeward is an adjective, windward, an adverb):
some are witty insults, like this dig at Boswell and his fellow Scots:
and some are self-deprecating: