The Physical Book

This copy’s cover and binding were made with cracked oxblood leather, now ragged but with the stitches still intact so that there are no detached pages.

The book measures 17 by 12 cm, and is 5 cm thick. That is not so big for a dictionary, and it can easily fit into a bag and be carried around. As Blount’s preface addresses a scope much broader than the literary elite, Glossographia can be said to be partially designed for entertaining those who are functionally literate. For more speculation about why the small size, see Working Methods.

Glossographia is an octavo volume, in which 16 pages of text were printed, and folded 3 times to create 8 leaves or pages. You can clearly see the key word on the bottom right-hand corner of the left page, signalling the first word that begins the next page (top left-hand corner of the right page).



Glossographia 1661 edition title page

Something might also be said of the choice of Words, in our refined English tongue; which are to be liked and approved according to their tone, and the sweetness of their cadence, that is, as they run musically in the Ear.”

-Thomas Blount on Glossographia


This blog will introduce you to Thomas Blount’s 1661 edition of:

Glossographia: Or A Dictionary, Interpreting all such Hard Words of Whatshoever Language, now used in our refined English Tongue. With Etymologies, Definitions, and Historical Observations on the same. Also the Terms of Divinity, Law, Physick, Mathematicks, Heraldry, Anatomy, War, Musick, Architecture; and of several other Arts and Sciences Explicated. Very useful for all such as desire to understand what they read.

Blount constantly revised and updated his Glossographia, totaling up to the fifth edition of 1681, published posthumously. There are two different ‘second editions’ of Glossographia, one in 1659 being a reissue of the first of 1656, and this second edition of 1661 being a revision with new material. Each subsequent edition was revised and expanded. Blount’s Glossographia inspired many other early dictionaries. Noteworthy ones include: Edward Phillips’s The New World of English Words: Or, a General Dictionary (1658); John Dutton’s The Ladies Dictionary: Being a General Entertainment For the Fair Sex (1694); and Glossographia Anglicana Nova (1707).”

This blog is an exploration of:

-Angela Wu, 2018