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Monday, April 22, 2002

The Century Dictionary On-line (1901)

The usual 'net dictionaries don't let me flip through from page to page, looking at interesting words. Indeed, they usually only provide me with a definition for a single word. What fun is that?

The Century Dictionary ("An encyclopedic dictionary of English considered by many to be the finest ever produced in the US." - Oxford Companion to the English Language) is fun, a hundred years old, twelve volumes worth of words, more than 10K pages, more than 500K definitions.

The dictionary has been put online in DjVu format, which gives you the actual page format and look of the original.

Search for a word, "towse," f'rex.

Look at the results in DjVu format, DjVu format with highlighting or as a JPEG.

You'll see the whole page of the dictionary with the word you wanted, or where the word you wanted would've been if it had been in the dictionary.

The search field &c. remains in the left sidebar in case you get "towse, v. See touse."
Search: touse

touse (touz), v.; pret. and pp. toused, ppr. tousing. [Formerly also touze, towse; [snips ...] Connection with the equiv. tease, tose, is doubtful. Hence tousle.]

I. trans.
1. To tear or pull apart; rend.
We'll touse you
Joint by joint, but we will know his purpose.
Shak., M. for M., v.1.313.

2. To tease; comb.
Welcome, Welchman! Here, nurse, open him and have him to the fire, for God's sake; they have touzed him, and washed him thoroughly, and that be good.
Peele, Edw. I.

3. To harass; worry; plague.
As a Beare whom angry curres have touzd.
Spenser, F.Q., II.xi.33.

4. To pull about; handle roughly or carelessly; hence, to rumple, dishevel; tousle.
Like swine, touse pearl without respect.
Ford, Honour Triumphant, i.

I will be tousing
Their fair madonas.
Massinger, Duke of Milan, iii.1.

Belinda. Am I not horribly touz'd?
Araminta. Your Head's a little out of order.
Congreve, Old Batchelor, iv.8.

II. intrans.

... &c. and so forth.

Reduce. Zoom. Turn 90deg. Page forward. Page back.

Jeffery Triggs says, in the intro, "As I mentioned above, no dictionary is everything to everybody, and The Century Dictionary Online is no exception. You will not find terms like "bad hair day," "ribbit," "Rogernomics," or even "Reaganomics" here. After all, the last edition of The Century Dictionary came out when Reagan was a toddler. More seriously, you will not find terms like "AIDS," "motherboard," "television," "World Wide Web," and even some common words I have used here. Dictionary publicists always like to emphasize their new words, but we cannot hide the fact that The Century Dictionary Online, advanced as it was in its day, has no newer words yet. However, this should not obscure the more important fact that the vast majority of English words, and virtually all the words of the core vocabulary of English, were already known more than a century ago and are in fact beautifully, deeply defined in The Century Dictionary."

This link can be found in the Word Stuff|Dictionaries subsection of

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Internet Resources for Writers