The vocabulary was vastly expanded in Webster's New International editions of and , totaling over half a million words, with the edition retrospectively called Webster's Second International or simply "The Second Edition" of the New International. The Collegiate Dictionary was introduced in and the series is now in its eleventh edition. Following the publication of Webster's International in , two Collegiate editions were issued as abridgments of each of their Unabridged editions.
Merriam overhauled the dictionary again with the Webster's Third New International under the direction of Philip B.
Gove , making changes that sparked public controversy. Many of these changes were in formatting, omitting needless punctuation , or avoiding complete sentences when a phrase was sufficient.
Others, more controversial, signaled a shift from linguistic prescriptivism and towards describing American English as it was used at that time. With the ninth edition Webster's Ninth New Collegiate Dictionary WNNCD , published in , the Collegiate adopted changes which distinguish it as a separate entity rather than merely an abridgment of the Third New International the main text of which has remained virtually unrevised since Some proper names were returned to the word list, including names of Knights of the Round Table.
The most notable change was the inclusion of the date of the first known citation of each word, to document its entry into the English language.
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The eleventh edition published in includes more than , definitions, and more than , entries. This dictionary is preferred as a source "for general matters of spelling" by the influential The Chicago Manual of Style , which is followed by many book publishers and magazines in the United States. The Chicago Manual states that it "normally opts for" the first spelling listed.
The G. Merriam Company lost its right to exclusive use of the name "Webster" after a series of lawsuits placed that name in public domain. Previous publications had used " A Merriam-Webster Dictionary " as a subtitle for many years and will be found on older editions. Since the s, the company has added many specialized dictionaries, language aides, and other references to its repertoire. In , Merriam-Webster launched its first website, which provided free access to an online dictionary and thesaurus. On February 16, , Merriam-Webster announced the launch of a mobile dictionary and thesaurus service developed with mobile search-and-information provider AskMeNow.
Consumers use the service to access definitions, spelling and synonyms via text message. Services also include Merriam-Webster's Word of the Day —and Open Dictionary , a wiki service that provides subscribers the opportunity to create and submit their own new words and definitions. The Merriam-Webster company once used a unique set of phonetic symbols in their dictionaries—intended to help people from different parts of the United States learn how to pronounce words the same way as others who spoke with the same accent or dialect did. Hence, to enable computerized access to the pronunciation without having to rework all dictionaries to IPA notation, the online services of Merriam-Webster specify phonetics using a less-specific set of ASCII characters.
Merriam creates entries by finding uses of a particular word in print and recording them in a database of citations. Merriam-Webster's citation file contains more than 16 million entries documenting individual uses of words. Millions of these citations are recorded on 3-by-5 cards in their paper citation files. The earliest entries in the paper citation files date back to the late 19th century. Since , all new entries are recorded in an electronic database.
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