If you\u2019re super cool, like us, you\u2019re probably excited about today (October 16) being National Dictionary Day. And to celebrate, we\u2019ve prepared a very quick history of dictionaries. If big books full of alphabetized words are your thing, then, read on and find out where they came from!\r\nEarly Lexicons, Glossaries and Non-English Dictionaries\r\n\r\n[caption id="attachment_49191" align="alignright" width="276"] Part of the Urra=hubullu tablet.[\/caption]\r\n\r\nThe earliest "dictionaries" we know of are glossaries from the Akkadian Empire (an ancient Mesopotamian civilization). The Urra=hubullu, for instance, is a second millennium BCE cuneiform tablet that lists words in both Sumerian and Akkadian.\r\nOver the years, similar lexicons emerged in various languages, including Chinese, Sanskrit, and Japanese. And medieval Europe produced many glossaries, such as the Catholicon from 1287, which list Latin terms alongside their everyday translations.\r\nThe earliest monolingual dictionary, meanwhile, was the Erya, which dates to the third century BCE and included around 4,300 words in Chinese. But in Europe, we have to wait until 1611 and the Spanish-language Tesoro de la lengua castellana o Espa\u00f1ola, written by Sebasti\u00e1n de Covarrubias, before we see a dictionary in the modern sense! You\u2019ll notice, though, that none of these are in English! So, when did English dictionaries come along?\r\nEnglish Dictionaries and Dr Johnson\r\nIf you know anything about the history of dictionaries, you\u2019re probably waiting for us to mention Samuel Johnson. And we will! But not quite yet!\r\n\r\n[caption id="attachment_49207" align="alignright" width="247"] A portrait of renowned lexicographer Dr Johnson. Possibly thinking about a tricky spelling.[\/caption]\r\n\r\nSeveral people compiled English-language dictionaries before Dr Johnson. The first was Robert Cawdrey, who wrote A Table Alphabeticall in 1604. But it only contained 2,543 words and was not considered reliable, nor were many that followed.\r\nBy comparison Johnson\u2019s A Dictionary of the English Language, first published in 1755, was much more like a modern dictionary. Containing 42,773 words arranged alphabetically and references to show their usage, this book soon became the standard English dictionary. And it remained so until the completion of the Oxford English Dictionary in 1928.\r\nIn addition, we should mention the Dictionarius. Written by John of Garland around the year 1200, this was actually a glossary of Latin and Old French. But it is important its title gave us the English word "dictionary."\r\nNoah Webster and Spelling Reform\r\nA passionate advocate of spelling reform, Noah Webster believed English spelling to be unnecessarily complex. And with this in mind, he began simplifying various words, such as dropping the "u" from "colour," giving us many of the American English spellings we know today.\r\nNoah Webster's masterpiece was the American Dictionary of the English Language. First published in 1828, this expanded on previous dictionaries by around 12,000 words. And it formed the basis of the Merriam-Webster dictionary that we still have today, making it hugely influential.\r\n\r\n[caption id="attachment_49195" align="aligncenter" width="419"] The 1828 edition of An American Dictionary of the English Language (complete with portrait of Noah Webster).\r\n(Photo: Jim Heaphy)[\/caption]\r\n\r\nFinally, it\u2019s worth noting that Noah Webster was born on October 16, 1758. Yup, National Dictionary Day was established to honor this giant of the dictionary world! So, let's end this post with three cheers for Noah!\r\nExpert Proofreading\r\nA dictionary is helpful if you want to avoid spelling errors, but hiring a proofreader is better! Our expert editors can help you polish every aspect of your writing, including spelling, grammar, and punctuation. And you can find out how this works today by uploading a 500-word trial document for free.