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date: 24 November 2020

Abstract and Keywords

The key defining characteristic of a historical dictionary is that it presents the histories of individual words over time, grouping together material that shows a shared or common historical development, and presenting in separate entries material that shows a distinct history. This apparently simple criterion for the division and structuring of material in a historical dictionary in fact brings with it many challenges, and judgement calls for the lexicographer, some of the main categories of which are identified and illustrated in this chapter. Test cases investigated include: a large set of homonyms from the Oxford English Dictionary; words that show multiple inputs; and words that show lexical merger or split.

Keywords: historical dictionaries, historical lexicography, etymology, loanwords, word history, homonymy, polysemy, lexical merger, lexical split

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