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On 15 April 1755, Dr Johnson published his Dictionary of the English Language. In the previous 150 years over 20 English dictionaries had been published, but these had all had serious shortcomings of organisation or scope which limited their usefulness. Dr Johnson was commissioned to make his dictionary by a group of publishers who needed a definitive authority for English grammar, definition and spelling. There had been a huge expansion of books, newspapers and pamphlets in the Eighteenth...