National Dictionary Day

Observed annually on October 16th, National Dictionary Day is a holiday that celebrates the birthday of the father of the American dictionary, Noah Webster. The dictionary is one of the most powerful tools of the English language and not only helps people spell and define the words they use today but also helps to document the words that people have used in the past. Since we believe in the power of language, we think that this is a holiday that everyone should consider celebrating.

The History of the Dictionary

Even though Noah Webster is considered to be the father of the American dictionary, he isn’t the father of the dictionary—not even the father of the English-version dictionary. Some of the earliest dictionaries in the world were created in Latin, French, and Spanish. The first English version of the dictionary wouldn’t be created until 1220 by John of Garland. This was a dictionary whose purpose was to help people with their diction of Latin.

The first reliable English dictionary was created by Samuel Johnson in 1755. In 1806, Noah Webster would create what many people consider to be the first American dictionary. It was called A Compendious Dictionary of the English Language. To make sure that he properly evaluated the etymology of words in his dictionary, he studied 26 different languages including Anglo-Saxon, German, Greek, Latin, Spanish, French, Arabic, and even Sanskrit.

Some Interesting Facts About Dictionaries

Can’t get enough information about dictionaries? Good, because we have a ton more facts to share with all of you on this day. We came across some interesting facts about dictionaries and decided to put them down below for everyone’s entertainment.

  • The first Merriam-Webster Dictionary cost about $6.
  • It took 50 years to create the first Oxford English Dictionary.
  • Noah Webster spent 27 years researching and compiling the American Dictionary of the English Language.
  • J.R.R. Tolkien worked as an editor’s assistant on the Oxford English Dictionary after WWI.
  • The study of dictionaries is known as lexicography.
  • Because language is always evolving, every dictionary is out of date almost as soon as it’s published.

Observing National Dictionary Day

Although there isn’t a whole lot to do on National Dictionary Day, you can take the time to learn a few new words. You can also take the time to learn more about Noah Webster. While you’re celebrating the dictionary, be sure to use the hashtag #NationalDictionaryDay to let the internet know of all the new words you’ve learned this day.

When is it?
This year (2024)
October 16 Wednesday
Next year (2025)
October 16 Thursday
Last year (2023)
October 16 Monday
Education & Reading