And after that, and also for each word, there should be sentences that show the twists and turns of meanings—the way almost every word slips in its silvery, fishlike way, weaving this way and that, adding subtleties of nuance to itself, and then perhaps shedding them as public mood dictates.
This shows an important philosophical approach to lexicography, namely a fundamentally inductive way of looking at definition. Rather than focus on etymology, or other a priori or prescriptive methods, this shows definitions to be rooted in usage. Thus the approach is descriptive and rather than seeing language as static, shows that language is constantly evolving and that words can be polysemous and change over time.
In the sixteenth century in England, dictionaries such as we would recognize today simply did not exist. If the language that so inspired Shakespeare had limits, if its words had definable origins, spellings, pronunciations, meanings—then no single book existed that established them,...
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