Noah Webster at 250

Laurence Horn laurence.horn at YALE.EDU
Wed Oct 15 23:51:49 UTC 2008

At 5:08 PM -0500 10/15/08, Dennis Baron wrote:
>OK, Larry, where is the preposterous cite? I don't see it under
>preposterous in my 1828 facsimile. is it in the 1806 (thought there
>weren't cites in that).?

It's from Arthur Schulman's edition of the the 1828 compilation of
the Nue Merrykin Dikshunary.  The full entry is:

PREPOSTEROUS. Perverted;  wrong;  absurd;  contrary to nature or
reason; not adapted to the end;  as, a republican government in the
hands of females, is preposterous...

More goodies at random from the same source:

SCOFF. To treat with insolent ridicule, mockery or contumelious
language;  to manifest contempt by derision;  with at. To scoff at
religion and sacred things is evidence of extreme weakness and folly,
as well as of wickedness.

SWEAR. To be profane;  to practice profaneness. Certain classes of
men are accustomed to swear. For men to swear is sinful, disreputable
and odious;  but for females or ladies to swear, appears more
abominable and scandalous.

>Webster had fanciful etymologies, and his self-promotion was rampant
>-- didn't he also write reviews of his works under fake names? did he
>originate that practice, or am i misremembering.

I'm afraid I can't remember either.


>Dennis Baron
>Professor of English and Linguistics
>Department of English
>University of Illinois
>608 S. Wright St.
>Urbana, IL 61801
>office: 217-244-0568
>fax: 217-333-4321
>read the Web of Language:
>On Oct 15, 2008, at 9:30 AM, Laurence Horn wrote:
>>Preposterous_ is illustrated by 'A republican government in the
>>hands of females is preposterous'
>The American Dialect Society -

The American Dialect Society -

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