Samuel Johnson's Dictionary Timeline


Geoffrey Chaucer, the earliest author cited in SJ’s Dictionary, dies


Joannes Balbus’s Catholicon is the first dictionary to be printed with movable type


The Dictionary of Syr Thomas Eliot Knyght, a Latin–English work, is the first English printed book with dictionary in its title

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William Shakespeare, the most quoted author in the Dictionary, is born in Stratford-upon-Avon


Thomas Cooper publishes Thesaurus linguae Romanæ & Britannicæ, an important Latin–English dictionary


John Withals publishes A Shorte Dictionarie for Yonge Beginners Gathered of Good Authours, a Latin–English dictionary for children


Henri Estienne publishes his Thesaurus linguae graecae, a major Greek–Latin lexicon

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Sir Philip Sidney begins his first major work, Astrophel and Stella; in the Dictionary SJ writes, “I have fixed Sidney’s work for the [early] boundary, beyond which I make few excursions”


Robert Cawdrey publishes A Table Alphabeticall, the first monolingual English dictionary

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The King James Version of the Bible is published; it is the most quoted work in the Dictionary

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El Tesoro de la lengua castellana o española, the first general monolingual Spanish dictionary, is published

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The Vocabolario degli Accademici della Crusca, the first great European dictionary produced by a national academy, is published in Florence

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William Shakespeare dies

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William Bullokar publishes An English Expositor: Teaching the Interpretation of the Hardest Words Used in Our Language, with Sundry Explications, Descriptions and Discourses, the second monolingual English dictionary

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William Shakespeare’s colleagues publish Mr. William Shakespeare’s Comedies, Histories & Tragedies, known as the “First Folio”

Henry Cockeram publishes The English Dictionarie; or, An Interpreter of Hard English Words, an example of the tradition of “hard-word” dictionaries

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Thomas Blount publishes Glossographia; or, A Dictionary Interpreting the Hard Words of Whatsoever Language, Now Used in Our Refined English Tongue

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Edward Phillips publishes The New World of Words; or, A General Dictionary, the first English dictionary published in the large folio format; around half its entries are plagiarized from Blount’s Glossographia

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Charles II is restored to the throne after eleven years in which England had no king; Johnson focuses most of his attention on the language of “the writers before the restoration”


John Milton publishes Paradise Lost, one of the most cited works in the Dictionary