Resource 1: Webster’s 1828 American Dictionary

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Noah Webster's 1828 American Dictionary

Noah Webster

Noah Webster lived from 1758-1843. He wanted to create an American dictionary to standardize spelling and pronunciation. Instead of the British forms of spelling like “colour,” we have “color” today because of his work. His first dictionary contained 70,000 words, 12,000 of which had not appeared in a dictionary up to that point. Webster died in 1843 but sold the rights to his dictionary to George and Charles Merriam in 1840. They then created the popular Merriam-Webster dictionary.

Webster’s dictionary was the last single-person effort to create such a massive work. I can’t even fathom the effort to create such a work as this without the use of a computer. British dictionaries existed prior to his time which could have helped in this effort, but this was truly an amazing effort.

Webster wrote, “Language is the expression of ideas; and if the people of one country cannot preserve an identity of ideas, they cannot retain an identity of language.” His purpose was to preserve and transmit the ability to understand the political (ex. U.S. Constitution) and ecclesiastical (ex. Bible) meanings and intents of words for future generations. As such, this work becomes a valuable addition to understanding meanings in the King James version of the Bible, as well as the Book of Mormon and other LDS canonized scripture from that era. The Lord said he speaks according to our language so preserving the meanings Joseph Smith was familiar with is vital (2 Nephi 31:3).

Webster also said, “Education is useless without the Bible.” His dictionary contains over 6,000 references to the Bible to illustrate the meanings of words, as you’ll see in a minute.

(More on Webster for the curious) http://www.webstersdictionary1828.com/NoahWebster

Webster’s 1828 Dictionary Online

Bookmark this site in your browser of choice: (You can also find smartphone apps of this dictionary.) http://webstersdictionary1828.com

I highly recommend you take time to click the links on the left. They contain some very interesting groupings of words, as well as quotes (http://www.webstersdictionary1828.com/Quotes) from this amazing individual.

How’s the view from up there?

Today’s resource lesson came as I was reading in Mosiah 5:3 which reads, “And we, ourselves, also, through the infinite goodness of God, and the manifestations of his Spirit, have great views of that which is to come; and were it expedient, we could prophesy of all things.”

The word “views” stood out to me and I wanted to see how it is used in other scriptures to better understand what it meant here.

Look up the word view in Webster’s 1828 dictionary.

http://webstersdictionary1828.com/Dictionary/view

Websters-view

Read down the list of meanings and just get a feeling for the ways the word is defined. Notice too that Webster included a couple Biblical references for this word.

Now return to Scripture Notes and do a search for “view*” (note the asterisk wildcard). That way you’ll pick up all the variations of the word. Then convert the search to a collection note and title it “View”.

 

Scripture_Notes-view

Try to get a feeling for the ways the scriptures use this word. As you encounter a different use of the word, return to Webster’s definitions and review the list. You may do this several times to better understand the nuances of the words’ use.

References to viewing the land or people aren’t really relevant to what King Benjamin is talking about on a spiritual level, so remove verses like that as you go through the list. But, if there’s a chance you may be able to interpret it in a spiritual way with a different meaning, don’t remove it.

One thing I like to do if your browser will support this is press ctrl-F or command-F and type “view”. In some browsers that highlights all instances of that word which makes it a lot easier to scan the list of verses.

What are some ways the scriptures use the word view?

Physical views

Joshua 2:1, 7:2; 2 Kings 2:7, 15-behold lands or people

Ezra 8:15-an investigative view of the people

Nehemiah 2:13, 15; 1 Nephi 8:32-viewing things physically as they existed

How about these verses?

JS-H 1:46-Intentions

Mosiah 2:9-Something to be revealed

Mosiah 3:25; 4:2-an introspective view

Mosiah 2:9, 5:3-something your mind is opened up to

Alma 5:15-This is a future tense view and we are asked by the prophet if we are using our eye of faith to view (see spiritually and have hope and faith in) this eventual event of being resurrected.

D&C 17:1-2-spiritual sight of temporal things

Now closely examine Jacob 1:8. What is Jacob asking us to do when he says to “view his death”? Temporal? Spiritual? Through the eye of faith? Be a literal witness? Look back at Webster’s list of definitions and with a prayer in your heart, ponder the list of meanings and then record your thoughts in Scripture Notes. Write your thoughts by each verse and as a master note compile your overall thoughts about the collection of verses.

Another Webster’s

There is also another website that hosts an 1828 Webster’s dictionary. I would bookmark both. They each have different features. This one automatically does wildcard searches on the word you get defined. So if you type in “gathered” it will find “regathered” and “ungathered” which you probably wouldn’t have thought to search for. Just beware if you see a big list of words without the word you searched for, scroll down on the list to find it. Another cool thing on this site is it shows you the changes to the dictionary over time. Check out this listing for “view” and scroll down to see what I mean. Both sites have value. https://1828.mshaffer.com/d/word/view

If you want to see an interesting word definition evolution, check out the word “sin” as originally defined by Webster. Then check today’s Merriam-Webster definition and “view” how much meaning has been lost.

http://webstersdictionary1828.com/Dictionary/sin (1828 Original)

https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/sin (modern day)

Photo of title page of Noah Webster’s 1828 edition of the American Dictionary of the English Language by Jim Heaphy. Book owned by the California State Library. Licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0, from Wikimedia Commons)

Also visit LDS Scripture Study Aids for more resources.

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God, family, country, scriptures, soccer, Sanderson, disc golf, dessert, development. These are a few of my favorite things. :) - Oak Norton

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