Redeeming Words

Have you ever gone to the dictionary to define a word of which you think you know the meaning? I have...and I discovered I had been misusing it!

That started me on a journey to learn what other words I might have been wrongly using.


For the reasons I've outlined below, I've become a fan of Noah Webster's 1828 American Dictionary of the English Language, and I encourage you to use it and join me to reclaim the proper use of words.

While I hope you'll purchase your own personal copy of the 1828 for your household and progeny, here's a convenient online version for quick access.


Why?

Common misuse of words and political correctness have adulterated the proper meanings of words. 

In my personal study, I have found myself in err even when confident of a word's meaning. Therefore, this page reflects my desire to redeem the proper use and stewardship of God's gift of language.

A word that is repeatedly misapplied in our world today is "gay." The original meaning was:


Merry; airy; jovial; sportive; frolicksome. It denotes more life and animation than cheerful.

What a beautiful picture this word creates! 

The definition of "redeem" is:


To rescue; to recover; to deliver from.

Will you join me in redeeming this and other words?


Why the 1828? 

1. The 1828 Dictionary was compiled and written at the peak of American literacy, 97-99%.

2. Known as the Founding Father of American Scholarship and Education, Mr. Webster was a true scholar of language, devoting 27 years to this project. Having learned 20 different languages or dialects, he painstakingly explored the field of etymology (origin of words) and thus revealed the meanings of 70,000 words.

3. Mr. Webster "set a standard of purity when he refused to admit putrifying streams of cant and vulgarism into the main flow of American language."

4. Mr. Webster provided selections from Scripture and classic literature for usage examples.

5. Mr. Webster recognized the need for a truly American Dictionary unique to the New World. If we are to rightly discern the writings of America's Founding Fathers, we must use a study resource consistent with usage of their day.
The 1828 Dictionary "included a new vocabulary directly related to the American philosophy of government. The Christian concept of individual liberty and property established under the United States Constitution had produced, for the first time in human history, unlimited opportunity for every man and woman. An explosion of interest and exploration in every field occurred and invention and the arts flourished...New terms in science, industry and commerce were multiplying daily and these were significant in a country where men were independent and 'masters of their own persons and Lords of their own soil' (Webster)."

For a real treat, I highly recommend a study of the life of Noah Webster. In the front of the 1828 Dictionary, published by the Foundation for American Christian Education, you will find a rich biography of Mr. Webster written by Ms. Rosalie Slater.

"When I had come to the last word, I was seized with a trembling which made it somewhat difficult to hold my pen steady for writing. The cause seems to have been the thought that I might not then live to finish the work, or the thought that I was so near the end of my labors. But I summoned strength to finish the last word, and then walking about the room a few minutes I recovered." 
~ Noah Webster, upon completion of the 1828 Dictionary

All quotes above are taken from Ms. Slater's aforementioned article.





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