The Century Dictionary

ONE does not need to be very old — he may be no older in years of discretion than The Atlantic itself — to recall the wordy war which ravaged the country when Webster and Worcester, in quartos which were as alike to the superficial observer as Tweedledum and Tweedledee, made the air blue with advertising shouts. America is the paradise of dictionaries and encyclopædias, the happy hunting - ground of indexmakers. The mechanical genius which expends itself in labor-saving devices in the field of manual toil is equally energetic in the domain of the literature of knowledge ; it may be that the habit of helping ourselves to the literature of other countries has engendered the habit of systematizing and arranging all this material. There is little doubt that the publishing and editorial faculty of the country has been affected by the steady immigration of foreign books, which have all the duties and none of the rights of citizenship.

Be this as it may, the great energy displayed in the making of dictionaries and encyclopædias is having its result in an emancipation of the people from the tyranny of the dictionary. The habit which has grown up in America of referring to the dictionary as a final authority is like the habit of referring all theological questions to proof texts. When the Revisers had done their work, they had done more than was asked of them. They had destroyed forever the lingering faith in textual inspiration. As long as there was only one dictionary, or at the most two, it was quite possible, as the phrase goes, to swear by Webster or by Worcester, as the case might be. But the more dictionaries there are in the field, the thinner is the film of authority, and it is not impossible that both the makers of dictionaries and the users of them will come to agree that these books are records, and not rulers.

The latest of the great dictionaries 1 may justly be valued as a splendid triumph of editorial and publishing organization. Its foundations have been laid deep and broad. We must, at the outset, give the thanks of all educated Americans to a firm which honors the demands of scholarship by projecting so vast a scheme, and carrying it forward with unflagging zeal and swiftness of movement. One is tempted to speculate upon the possibility that great publishing houses may fulfill some of the functions of universities, and organize research. It is interesting also to note that such a work as the Century Dictionary is no longer the expression of one controlling genius, but represents the collaboration of many scholars. The varied learning called for is not at the command of any one student, but must be found by laying under contribution specialists in all departments of learning.

Yet it would not be just to treat this work as if it were in any sense a pioneer, and we are glad to take this occasion to speak of the dictionary which inevitably occurs to the mind as its great peer, — the New English (Oxford) Dictionary, under the editorship of Dr. J. A. H. Murray. The history of the origin and progress of this great enterprise of the Clarendon Press is by this time well known to students of the English language, but, for the sake of comparison, it may be in place to remind the general reader that the work is the offspring of the Philological Society of England, which proposed, in 1857, at the suggestion of Archbishop Trench, “that materials should be collected for a new English dictionary, which, by the completeness of its vocabulary, and by the application of the historical method to the life and use of words, might be worthy of the English language and of English scholarship.” Several hundred readers, including among Americans George Perkins Marsh and Richard Grant White, entered on the task of selecting typical quotations, for the use of words, from all the great English writers of all ages and from writers on special subjects. In 1878, there had been amassed upwards of two million quotations, specimens of which, prepared by Dr. Murray, were submitted, on behalf of the society, to the delegates of the Clarendon Press. They consented to bear the expense of publication, and Dr. Murray began to arrange the materials in hand and to solicit additional quotations from specified books. Over eight hundred readers responded to this appeal, including a large number in the United States under the superintendence of Professor March, of Lafayette College. In the course of three years the total number of quotations, from the works of over five thousand authors of all periods, was raised to about three and a half millions. Through the enthusiastic labors of the editor and a large corps of sub-editors, the dictionary began to put out its leaves in 1884. Part I. (pp. xvi, 352) goes to Ant. Three other parts (as far as C) have since appeared. The plan of this greatest work in English philology yet undertaken may be given in the editor’s own words : —

“ The aim of this dictionary is to furnish an adequate account of the meaning, origin, and history of English words now in general use, or known to have been in use during the last seven hundred years. It endeavors (1) to show, with regard to each individual word, when, how, in what shape, and with what signification it became English; what development of form and meaning it has since received ; which of its uses have, in the course of time, become obsolete, and which still survive ; what new uses have since arisen, by what processes, and when : (2) to illustrate these facts by a series of quotations, ranging from the first known occurrence of the word to the latest, or down to the present day; the word being thus made to exhibit its own history and meaning : and (3) to treat the etymology of each word on the basis of historical fact and in accordance with the methods and results of modern philological science.”

Such, in brief description, is the great work with which the Century Dictionary will inevitably be compared. Many social and political changes will doubtless take place before the end is reached. It will contain over 250,000 words, all words used by writers of English since 1150, or known to be in use at that date. Its vocabulary is therefore fuller than the Century’s, which will contain about 200,000. The latest edition of Webster has 118,000. On comparing Part I. of each, it will be found that from A to Answer the Oxford Dictionary has 350 quarto pages, the Century 230 pages of the same size. A (a-) in the Oxford takes up 11 columns, in the Century 6; all occupies 10 columns in the Oxford, 4 in the Century; again and against, 8½ in the Oxford, 2 in the Century. The large number of quotations introduced in the former will account, mainly, for this difference. To test the extent of inclusion or exclusion of rare or obsolete words, we glanced over Morris and Skeats’s Specimens of English Literature for test-words, and then looked them up in the dictionaries. The first reference was acouped (blamed), from a line of Robert Mannyng’s Handlyng Synne : —

“ How that he acouped was.”

It is not found in the Century; the Oxford gives it about two inches of space in etymology, and extracts from English authors, including Hampole, Langlande, and Caxton, but not including the passage above. Aby (to pay the penalty of), accidie (sloth), culaw (wake up), amene (pleasant), atter-cop (the old word for spider, whence cobweb), are found in both. Anerly (alone, only), as in Barbour’s Bruce, —

“ That he was left swa anerly, ” —

is in the Oxford, but not in the Century, though the recognized legal form allen - arly is given in the latter. Alout (bow low), alkatran (pitch), used by Mandeville, are not in the Century. To multiply examples would be tedious. The few we have given will enable the reader to form an opinion as to the scope of each of these great dictionaries. The restraint of the Century Dictionary will render it all the more acceptable to the busy man, while the special student of the English language will find the Oxford Dictionary indispensable, standing, as it does, in relation to all other dictionaries as the Britannica to all other encyclopædias.

Americanisms, provincialisms, colloquialisms, slang, are all duly treated in the Century. The compilers rightly hold that to omit such words and phrases is to give but an inaccurate idea of the growth of our language, and especially to hamper the student of the literature of the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. In carrying out this purpose, the editors have certainly done well. As to colloquial terms and the cant terms of various kinds in our literary history, the new dictionary is more inclusive than any of its predecessors. Students of the English drama will he glad to find that the admission of even the canting terms of plays like The Beggars’ Bush and Brume’s Jovial Crew gives promise of a completeness in this direction which will make wearisome consultation of footnotes and glossaries unnecessary. When the dictionary is complete, one should not need to turn to Dodsley or to Dyce for an explanation of such terms as anterior most, clapperdudgeons, etc. However, the dictionary is well supplied with words that once were slang, but gradually came into good use, — words like catchpoll, for an under-officer of the sheriff.

The question arises whether these literary words and cant phrases are well defined. Some definitions are admirable, some are only fairly successful, some wholly fail. There is not, as one glances over the pages of the dictionary, the feeling that often comes in looking at the dictionaries of a dozen or twenty years ago, — that a vague term is defined by a generality. Light is thrown upon the meaning of each word, though the strength of that light varies. For instance, the word avocation is admirably managed. The often - confused distinction between this word and vocation is well brought out in the definitions and in the illustrative quotations. The word actual is well treated, and one of its meanings is made clear once for all by an admirable selection from Sir W. Hamilton. This clearness appears especially in the definitions of weapons, musical instruments, and articles of dress of past times. The editors are not satisfied with some vague rendering for cithern, like " a musical instrument,” but carefully explain the appearance of the instrument both in olden and in more modern days.

There are times, however, when one wishes that the compilers had been a little more elaborate in statement, had defined with a little more clearness. For instance, a careful reading of the definitions of alternative as given in the Century Dictionary and in the Oxford will, we think, lead the reader to feel that the Englishman is clearer in his discussion of the word. One finds, too, an occasional lack in fullness of statement as to the older words. Calenture, that word so common in writings of the seventeenth century, is given as " a kind of delirium sometimes caused, especially within the tropics, by exposure to excessive heat, particularly on board ship.” The form of delirium usually associated with this fever is noted in the Oxford, and is admirably illustrated by this (quotation from Swift: —

“ So, by a calenture misled,
The mariner with rapture sees,
On the smooth ocean’s azure bed,
Enamell’d fields and verdant trees.”

The only reference in the Century Dictionary to this, the usual form of the delirium, is indirect. It is in the quotation from Dr. Holmes : —

“This calenture which shows me the maple - shadowed plains of Berkshire . . . beneath the salt waves which come feeling their way along the wall at my feet.”

The omission may seem unimportant, but certainly a word or two would have made the uses of calenture plainer.

One criticism there is which suggests itself here in connection with the subject of definition, and that is that it is a pity that the uses of words considered as doubtful by teachers of English should not be more distinctly marked. Often obs. or rare appears against a definition, but there are cases in which some modern adaptation of a word to a new and every-day use is allowed to pass without a word as to its status in the language. For instance, buxom, in the sense common to-day in expressions like a “ buxom bar-maid,” is not marked with any warning. Appreciate, too, in the sense of “ money has appreciated in the market,” stands without a word of comment. The editors can easily plead that a dictionary is not a rhetoric; yet they have marked some doubtful uses of words, and therefore why not all ? However, when one thinks how many people who will not take the trouble to study a treatise on rhetoric refer almost constantly to a dictionary, one cannot help wishing that more police work had been done by the editors. Simply to print the new uses as the last in the lists is to mark their age, not their respectability.

This last criticism as to position suggests a commendatory word on the way in which the different shades of meaning are traced. The method of the Oxford is followed, the earliest meaning coming first, with its illustrations, and the later developments in thieir order. An obs. or rare shows how many of these meanings are still in use. In the main these shades of meaning are finely distinguished.

This matter of definition has already led us into illustration, for the two go hand in hand in the Century Dictionary. First of all, then, let us admit that the arrangement of the quotations, as regards the eye and ease in using them, surpasses that of any of the earlier dictionaries. They are not crowded together, verse and prose, as in the Oxford, but are separated, and presented attractively to the eye. Moreover, the breadth in selection is very satisfactory. A word is not only traced in its first appearances in the early writings of our language, but is given as it appears in recent publications. The Anniversary Address of J. R. Lowell at Harvard in 1886 is quoted, and so is Dr. Holmes’s An Old Volume. The range of authors, too, is very great. One finds, in turning over the pages of the dictionary, not only all the well-known names of literature, but many of the less-known or newer writers, like Jones Very, C. E. Craddock, J. C. Harris. Even Grant’s Memoirs are quoted. In breadth of selection the Century Dictionary seems to rival, if not to surpass, the Oxford.

As to the fitness of these illustrative quotations more criticism can be made. Considering the immense quantity used and the number of words defined, we think the selection is remarkably good. Occasional cases there are, however, in which the reader cannot but wish that the lines threw more light upon the word under consideration. For instance, brawl, a dance, is far better illustrated by Skeats in his quotation from Cotgrave than in the Century Dictionary. Each defines it as a dance ; the Century Dictionary adds “ a braule.”Skeats says : “ It is a corruption of the French brausle, explained by Cotgrave as ‘ a totter, swing, shake, shock, etc.; also a brawle or daunce, wherein many men and women, holding by the hands, sometimes in a ring, and other whiles at length, move all together.’ ” The Century Dictionary illustrates as follows : —

“ Thence did Venus learn to lead
The Idalian brawls.”

B. Jonson.

“ Good fellowes must go leavne to daunce.
The brydeal is full near-a;
There is a brall come ont of Fraunce,
The fyrst ye harde this yeare-a. ”
Good Fellowes (1569), Halliwell, Note to
Marston’s Plays.

Certainly Skeats makes this not uncommon word in the Elizabethans clearer than does the Century Dictionary. Alternative, too, of which we have already spoken, seems to us rather poorly illustrated, considering the many admirable examples of the correct and incorrect uses contained in Hodgson’s Errors in English. For the reader who already understands fairly well the proper and improper uses of this word the illustrations will .suffice ; but for him who turns to the dictionary to look the subject up for the first time, we think the illustrations would be more helpful were they a trifle simpler.

On the other hand, as we have said, the quotations are often admirably selected. For instance, the illustration from Sir W. Hamilton on the second meaning of actual makes it clear once for all. The interpretation given is: “In full existence ; real; denoting that which not merely can be, but is ; opposed to potential, apparent, constructive, and imaginary.” The quotation is as follows : “ Hermogenes, says Horace, was a singer even when silent; how ? — a singer not in actu, but in posse. So Alfenus was a cobbler, even when not at work ; that is, he was a cobbler potential, whereas, when busy in his booth, he was a cobbler actual.”

Again, take these lines from Herrick, illustrating buss : —

“ Kissing and bussing differ both in this,
We buss our wantons, but our wives we kiss.”

There is one division of the work in which the illustrations are especially clear and satisfactory, — that which contains the very praiseworthy discussions of synonyms. Whoever has struggled with Roget and with the dictionaries in an effort to corner a fleeting word that expresses a shade of meaning must turn to this feature of the new dictionary with relief. The illustrations in this part of the work are very apt. For instance, read the discussions on acrimony and its synonyms, on adroit, or on abandon. Occasionally, of course, as in illustrations to show the distinction between deed and action, the quotations miss a little in effectiveness, and really throw but little light. One other kind of illustration or of definition deserves a passing word of praise, — the lists like that under acts, which gives all of the important legislative acts of history. Lists, like this, of phrases and titles suggested by a word will be very helpful to the student.

The element of time or date is plainly of such importance in determining the value of a form in linguistic evidence, or of a citation in support of a meaning, that we regret in some cases the absence of more definite information. In the case of aback, the meanings “toward and at the back” are illustrated by quotations from Spenser’s Shepherd’s Calendar (June) : —

“ They drewe abacke, as half with shame confound ; ”

and Knolles’ History of the Turks : —

“ His gallie ... being set upon both before and abacke.”

The impression naturally given by such instances is that modern ones are lacking, even if the dictionary does not indicate that the meanings are obsolete. The Oxford Dictionary gives, in fact, quotations illustrative of these senses from four writers of the present century, Coleridge, Carlyle, William Morris, and Joaquin Miller. Both the old and the modern authors should be quoted in such a case. The best way of all is doubtless to follow the example of Littré and Dr. Murray, and give uniformly either the century or the year in which the words quoted were written. This attention to chronology has an incidental advantage, which appears in its aid to correctness in quotation.

The Preface states that “ all citations are given in the orthography (though not always with the punctuation) of the texts from which they are taken.” This statement is subject in practice to certain modifications, which are not, in our view, necessary. We refer to the practice of quoting Shakespeare and the 1611 version of the Bible in modernized orthography. While it is manifestly undesirable to think of substituting the original orthography of the 1611 Bible in copies intended for general use now, it is not unscholarly to treat a printed text of that age as a manuscript document would be treated, namely, with fidelity to its spelling. The dictionary leaves Spenser’s words in their original form, including quotations from his prose View of the Present State of Ireland. If the original spelling had been adhered to in Shakespeare’s case, the attention of the editor would probably have been called to the fact that it is going beyond his warrant to quote, as he does, under the word babble, “ A babbled of green fields ” (Henry V. ii. 3) as an example of Shakespeare’s use of the word. We can gladly admit with White that Theobald’s substitution of the above words for the senseless “ a Table of greene fields ” of the Folio is “ the most felicitous conjectural emendation ever made of Shakespeare’s text,” and at the same time refuse to accept it as Shakespeare’s language.

The above quotation is also used as an instance under the word A, the provincial substitute for the pronouns of the third person. A far better example, among many, of Shakespeare’s practice, that is his printer’s, in the case of this word, is Hamlet IV. v. 185, “They say a made a good end,” Quarto of 1604, as against the Folio’s, “ They say he made a good end.”

If it could be assumed without examination that the dictionary would be abreast of the times in any department, that one would be the chief editor’s specialty, namely, etymology. The assurance that Professor Whitney’s name gives of the quality of this feature of the work is further supported by the authority of Dr. C. P. G. Scott, who wrote the etymologies, and several other well-known American scholars in the department of English. It is not in vain also to assure the general reader, as is done in the Preface, that the principles of comparative philology are established ; that is, are matters susceptible of proof, and not dependent on authority which a later generation of scholars may or must ignore. The labor of students of English etymology has now become mainly that of collecting and collating evidence in special cases, and in this process observing well-defined and well-known laws of historical sequence of sounds. It is work that is comparatively sure of reward, while, as in most other sciences, the chances of discovery of laws now unknown diminish constantly. In the care taken to give only those forms which are historically attested in support of a given derivation, and conscientiousness in marking with an asterisk purely supposititious ones, the dictionary proves that it deserves as nearly as may be perfect confidence. We have tested it in many critical words with a great degree of satisfaction. In the limitations as to fullness which Dr. Scott had to observe, the material is selected and arranged on a scientific basis. When the dictionary is completed, there will be no such body of facts, as to the history of our English words, elsewhere accessible in a single popular work. The rare cases of the recent establishment and proving of the etymology of a common word are fully treated, and with an evident use of the best authorities. The word bad is an instance in point; though the degree of probability as to its connection with Anglo-Saxon bœdel is somewhat greater than the dictionary would lead one to infer. Professor Zupitza deserves the credit of being the first to prove the derivation, and his name should not have been omitted from the account of the history of the word.

One has only to compare the etymology of acorn with that given in Webster (derived there from ac, oak, and corn), or of bless, or care, to be convinced that etymology is now a science, and no longer guess-work ; though it is plainly unfair to compare, in etymology, the Century with Webster, as there has been no revision of Dr. Malm’s etymologies in the latter since 1864. when etymology had hardly become a science. This applies more strictly to native English (Anglo-Saxon) words, the facilities for the study of which have greatly multiplied since the last revision of Webster. But in respect to etymology, we must still acknowledge the great authority of Skeats. In neither the Oxford nor the Century, we may note, under appetite, is reference made to petere (Gk. Trlropai), to fly at, which brings out the underlying image or metaphor, connecting it thus with pen, from penna. (feather), which is for pet-na.

Both in the Preface and in the article on Anglo-Saxon, the Century leans away from the views of the Green-Freeman school of historians and the modern school of English philologists, who see in our mother tongue an unbroken continuity of development from the earliest records of the English people to the present ; not a language “ which has been constructed ” of Anglo-Saxon, on the one hand, and of Anglo-French of the Normans, on the other. The well-known views of Professor March, regarding “Anglo-Saxon as a language separate and distinct from the English, are quoted at some length under Anglo-Saxon. The substitution of “ Old English ” for Anglo-Saxon,” which is merely one dialect of Old English, advocated by Professor Cook in his translation of Siever’s Angelsachsische Grammatik, is in accordance with the historical facts of the language, as set forth by some of the greatest living English scholars. Rest, bosom, stream, sand, sun-beam, etc., have always been English, and cannot properly be spoken of as derived from Anglo-Saxon rest, bosm, stream, sand, sunn-beam, etc. Stormonth, in the Preface to his dictionary, teaches sound doctrine on this point: “ AngloSaxon words have not been so generally introduced as etymologies, because, strictly speaking, they cannot be looked upon as belonging to a distinct language, but must simply be regarded as Old English.”This is not quoted as a criticism on etymology in the Century Dictionary, but only as favoring that view of our language that is destined to outgrow the narrower one.

A cursory examination, mainly, of Part I. will hardly justify any minute criticism. On page 2, in the article on A (a-), the eye falls on a passage that sounds a little strange to modern ears : “ This construction [" is being built ”]|. though condemned by logicians and purists, is well established in popular speech, and will probably pass into correct literary usage,” —a prophecy longago fulfilled in the usage of the best writers of the present century. In the same article, the distinction between the verbal noun (-ing) and the present participle (-ing) is not made, we think, with sufficient emphasis.

The genesis of the colloquial " they are a,coming ” (active) is from the participle, not from the verbal noun. The prepositional prefix (a-) arises from confusion with such expressions as “the house was a-building ” (passive), in which “ building ” is a pure verbal noun. Professor Max Müller was clearly off his guard when he wrote that “ the vulgar or dialectic expression ‘ he is a going ’ is far more correct than ‘ he is going, ” as has been pointed out by Dr. Morris in English Accidence. “ He is coming ” is directly traceable to “ he is cominde,” the southern form, in middle English, of Anglo-Saxon “ he is cumende ” (present participle), one of the oldest idioms in the language. At a much later period, " he is a coming ” (active) arose from confusion with the correct passive construction, as “ the ark was a preparing/’

The dictionary, as a matter of course, recognizes the strong influence upon technical lexicography which results from the fecundity of science in wordmaking ; and no class of scientific men will have more cause for satisfaction in the new lexicon than that large group, consisting of physicians, sanitarians, zoologists, and botanists, included under the general term “ biologists.” Biology certainly had peculiar claims to a large hospitality, as is admitted in the Preface, and also to “ a degree of prominence corresponding to the remarkable recent increase in its vocabulary.” But it is doubtful if this alone would have justified so generous a treatment of the biological sciences in a work of this character. It is rather the profound and almost all-embracing influence which biology has wielded in language, in history, in literature, and in religion, as well as the fermentation which it has generated in social and speculative philosophy, that entitles it to preëminent consideration. Since 1850 biology has actually achieved the difficult feat of effecting for mankind an almost universal change in its intellectual point of view.

Here, then, for the first time, the casual reader, and the searcher for the meaning of many words new to our literature, will find what they seek. But so full and rich is the treatment in this special department that the lexicon may serve equally well as a technical glossary for the biologist, in the laboratory, the museum, and the seminary. Moreover, it fills as well as anything can a void so complete as to have been virtually a vacuum. There has been hitherto not only nothing like it, but it might almost be said that there has been nothing at all. Since the several authors had literally, therefore, no guide to follow, it would be obviously unfair to expect the work to be in all respects complete. It is too much to ask that all the biological sciences should be fully or even equally represented, or that the treatment of so vast and so new a subject should be always symmetrical or balanced. If ornithology and ichthyology seem to occupy too much space, and embryology and physiology too little, it must not be forgotten that, historically speaking, the former have been the more attended to by our American scientific men.

The biological definitions are generally good, though not always above criticism ; as, for example, in the case of aberrant, the zoölogical definition of which would do as well or better for varying, and is actually misleading in giving, as it does, the impression that its etymological meaning does not apply in practice, while in fact it fulfills precisely the modern post-Darwinian usage. The definition of algæ might easily have been simplified, and the encyclopædic portion of the definition of blood describes the red corpuscles of mammalian blood merely as “ flat disks,” although every school-boy knows that in most mammals they are flattened biconcave disks.

In carrying out the encyclopaædic features of the lexicon, much success has been achieved within astonishingly narrow compass ; but physicians and bacteriologists will be disappointed to find that the term agar-agar (the native name of Bengal isinglass) has been transferred with its definition from the Imperial Dictionary, without any hint whatsoever of its great scientific and practical importance as a medium for the “ culture " of disease germs and other bacteria at the blood heat, where gelatine — its principal rival — melts and is worthless. It is also a serious omission that no mention is made, under color, of Hering’s theory of color sensation alongside of the Young-Helmholtz theory (which is mentioned), and which it is threatening to supersede. The definition of conjugation is made so comprehensive as to include, without remark, fertilization, to which in botany, at least, it has often stood opposed.

The only noteworthy departure which we have noticed in orthography is the use of chlorophyl instead of chlorophyle, a usage which prevails throughout the book in this word and in others having the same ending. We observe with pleasure among words of long standing apochromatic, a word invented in 1887, and now universally adopted to characterize microscope objectives made with the “ new glass.”

The figures are generally excellent, especially those of birds, fishes, and insects. Others are only tolerable, like that of the moonwort fern, Jiotrychium, or are coarse and suggest careless k‘ process ” work, like that of the peristome of a moss given under cilium. In only one case, however, have we noticed thoroughly had work, namely, in the figure of human blood corpuscles on page 592. As a rule, admiration silences criticism in all these particulars, as the pages, one by one, are turned ; yet it would he difficult to find a figure less adapted to show the real relations of that important embryonic respiratory organ, the allantois, than tlie one referred to under that word. It is an old figure, chosen in the place of many better and newer ones.

It is the inclusion of the innumerable technical terms, doubtless, that biologists should be most grateful for ; but even here there ought to be a limit, and we see no sufficient reason for admitting Aclidæ, “ a family of ptenoglossate pectinibranchiate gasteropods, typified by the genus Aclis with a much-curved minute odontophove, densely hirsute, with simple uncinate teeth and a rimate turreted shell,” especially as there appear to be only " two genera, represented by four species in Norway.” The use of the term u protovertebræ ” in the explanation of the figure on page 897 is old-fashioned and no longer sanctioned by the best authorities, for the reason that the bodies referred to are not merely protovertebræ, but form also other portions of the dorsal region. The genus Clathrocystis — a humble group of algæ, or, more strictly, of cyanophyceæ — is included ; but the writer of the definition evidently had in mind only the rosy Clathrocystis, which produces, for example, the trouble known as “ red codfish,”at Gloucester, etc., and fails to add, as he might have done, that other kinds are troublesome in drinking-water, where they often choke up or discolor stored waters. It is also quite incorrect to describe the genus as “consisting of minute rose-colored cells,” since the commonest fresh-water form has blue-green cells. Typographical errors seem to be very rare, the only one we have observed being Balbiana for Balbiani, under acinetiform. On the other hand, it is difficult to see how any working biologist can dispense with the lexicon, or how any one having occasion to find a particular word can fail to get here at least a clue to its meaning or usage.

After all, however, all criticism upon the new dictionary must at present be made with reservations. It is hard to praise without conditions, for in this first volume the editors have had as far as C the very valuable aid of the Oxford Dictionary, while in the later volumes they must -work without it. Moreover, there are many words yet to be considered which the student wishes to see treated before giving any final impression of the dictionary. For instance, inasmuch as the editors claim they are able to throw much light upon the etymologies and the growth of words, it will be interesting to see how they will treat words like dudgeon in its use as a dagger; firk, that word of many meanings in the old drama ; and the many words that the adaptive minds of the Elizabethans framed from other languages for their needs. The reader must bear in mind that we have before us only the first of the six volumes which are to comprise the work, and that it includes the words only from A to Cono ; but it would be uncivil to leave so monumental a work without attention in The Atlantic until the whole was completed. Indeed, it has probably dawned upon the reader by this time that any criticism of such a book must be fragmentary and somewhat disconnected, and that the critic himself would probably prefer to tackle one volume rather than six.

It only remains to be said that the Century Dictionary is as beautiful to the eye as it is satisfying to the inquiring mind ; and, as it will be completed in two years, every one who can afford a high-priced dictionary will, of necessity, buy it, rather than wait, even if his preference runs that way, for the New English Dictionary. But if we may parody a phrase familiar to the users of dictionaries, we should say, Get Both.

  1. The Century Dictionary. An Encyclopædic Lexicon of the English Language. Prepared under the superintendence of WILLIAM DWIGHT WHITNEY. In six volumes. Vol. I. A-Cono. New York: The Century Company. [1889.]