Do dictionaries change how we think?

In 1806, Noah Webster published a dictionary unlike any other: it had slang words. Critics said it polluted English. But for him, it truly reflected the language people used. This animation charts the history of the dictionary, its purpose and impact on language itself.

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Activities

  1. The definition of wife has changed since Webster’s first dictionary. Use the internet to research another word and its different definitions over the past 200 years. How has it changed and why?
  2. As a group, vote on a word you think should be included in the dictionary. It can be a new word, something that has a new meaning or a new piece of slang. Write a letter to Meriam-Webster arguing your point.