About The Joy of English

Samuel Johnson's Dictionary of the English
1756 – online edition

This online version of Johnson's Dictionary (1756) was put together by whichenglish.com and the author of The Joy of English.

It was produced by combining OCR and sophisticated GREP, in addition to pure, time-consuming search-and-replace grunt for formatting and clean-up. It is by no means a clean, perfect text reproduction (yet) but it is an ongoing project. The sheer volume of code behind these pages (137,000 lines of code) means that there is only so much one man can do. The overall integrity of the contents of the dictionary is here.

A few notes about this online version of the dictionary. First, it is not perfect. Most of the 47,000 headwords will be highlighted in bold and each definition in separate p-tags. Many did not succeed during conversion and the sheer volume of entries prohibits be from doing them all manually one by one. Second, not every word came out accurately in the OCR process and so many definitions will have garbled words and entries. Again, the volume here means that the time it would take to fix manually would be enormous. At present it is not just feasible for one person (me) to clean up. Third, not ALL of the entries ARE actually garbled. This is because the spelling of the 1700s was different from what we recognize today. The most notable difference here is the letter s, printed at the time as ſ because it is a long s. So, instead of appearing as sensual. Samuel Johnson's Dictionary rendered it as ſenſual. So these are not mistakes – it just takes a little getting your head round it.

Today's letter s was at the time of printing Johnson's Dictionary typically rendered ſ. So, sounds looks on these pages as ſounds, English looks like Engliſh. This is not mistake. Equally italic long s looks like Shakʃpeare in the word Shakespeare.

English long s

As you can see from these 18th-century chiselled gravestones, the f (left) and long s (right, between i and h) are distinctly different. So, please don't be offended if you see ſuck, it is merely 18th-century suck.


Anyway, I hope you enjoy browsing. Jesse.


This page last updated: 20 October 2014


X is a letter, which, though found in Saxon words, begins no word in the Engliſh language.