Happy Birthday Samuel Johnson. The man who brought us the Dictionary of the English Language would have been 308 today!
Born in Lichfield, Staffordshire in 1709, Johnson is perhaps best known as a Londoner, most famous for his quote – When a man is tired of London, he is tired of life; for there is in London all that life can afford.
First published in 1755, his dictionary (while not the first) had over 42,000 entries and was considered to be the most comprehensive achievement of scholarship back in the day.
It provided valuable insights into the language and culture of 18th century as well as some words that are still in common parlance today including the word fart – see below.
“Fart, noun: Wind from behind.
Love is the fart
Of every heart;
It pains a man when ‘tis kept close;
And others doth offend, when ‘tis let loose”
You can see 25 weird and wonderful examples from his first dictionary here.
And while his dictionary was said to include every word known to man at the time, in this great comic sketch below from Blackadder – C is for Contrafibularity – Lord Blackadder tries to convince the great man that he may just have missed a few out!