September 24, 1847

First Merriam-Webster Dictionary Published in Springfield


On this day in 1847, Charles and George Merriam of Springfield published the first edition of The American Dictionary of the English Language. Four years earlier, the brothers had decided to take a major risk. The great lexicographer Noah Webster had just died, leaving behind a large stock of expensive, unsold dictionaries. They purchased the books and the right to publish any revisions. Priced at $6.00, the new, shorter edition was an immediate success. Massachusetts ordered a copy for every school in the state. Building on Noah Webster's original idea that the American nation needed a dictionary that reflected its distinctive use of the English language, Merriam-Webster's has been setting the standards for American English for the past 150 years.

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