Memorable Monday: Celebrating ‘American’ words!


On April 14, 1828, the American Dictionary of the English Language was published, thanks to Noah Webster.

A lawyer and member of the Connecticut militia during the American Revolution, Webster is revered for his interest in language and education. He was a political writer, editor and author who was dedicated to producing a lexicon that would include “distinctly American words.”

And Webster did just that! Over the course of two decades and the learning of 26 languages, Webster introduced a dictionary that featured more than 10,000 “Americanisms” and played a critical role in standardizing English spelling.

His first spelling book was titled The First Part of the Grammatical Institute of the English Language. In 1786, it became The American Spelling Book and then was The Elementary Spelling Book in 1829. Most people simply knew the spelling books as the “Blue-Backed Speller” — so named because of the books’ blue covers. For 100 years, Webster’s book — which had 385 editions in his lifetime — taught children how to read, spell, and pronounce words.

If you’ve ever been in a spelling bee, you can thank Noah Webster. His spelling books were an impetus for the modern-day competitions throughout the nation.

(Illustration by Stuart Miles,



Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *