London: T. Osborne, 1763. 20th edition with considerable improvements. Hardcover. Large octavo (8 1/4 x 5 1/4"). Unpaginated. Original full calf, with gold ruling along covers and raised bands. Decorative head-, tailpieces and initials.
First published in London in 1721, "An Universal Etymological English Dictionary" was the most popular English dictionary of the 18th century. Its popularity was such that the dictionary reached its 20th edition in 1763 (our copy) and its 27th edition in 1794. Its last edition (30th) was published in 1802.
In compiling his dictionary, Nathaniel Bailey borrowed greatly from John Kersey's "Dictionarium Anglo-Britannicum" (1706), which in turn drew from the later editions of Edward Phillips's "The New World of English Words." Like Kersey's dictionary, Bailey's dictionary was one of the first monolingual English dictionaries to focus on defining words in common usage, rather than just difficult words. Although Bailey put the word "etymological" in his title, he gives definitions for many words without also trying to give the word's etymology – because he doesn't know what the etymology is. A very high percentage of the etymologies he does give are consistent with what's in today's English dictionaries.
Joints and head and tail of spine rubbed. Front hinge slightly starting. Previous owner's inscription and name in ink, dated 1781 on inside of both covers and at upper margin of the first page of the Introduction (Esq. Clarke). Previous owner's Ex-libris on inside of title page (Wm. R. Blumenthal). Light water-staining along upper margin of first and last leaves. Sporadic age-toning and minor smudging along paper margin. Binding in overall good- to good, interior in good- to very good condition. g- to vg. Item #41203