Alicia Rodríguez-Álvarez Universidad de Las Palmas de Gran Canaria ”The medical entries in John Kersey’s abridged Dictionarium Anglo-Britannicum (1708) or how to retain highly demanded lexical material in a short dictionary.”


The eighteenth century is characterised by efforts to make science accessible to the general public. In this sense, dictionaries played an important role as agents of popularisation of science. This essay focuses on a particular type of scientific entry, that of medical terms, included in John Kersey’s Dictionarium Anglo-Britannicum (1708), an abridged version of Kersey’s revision of Edward Phillips’s The New World of Words (1706). Kersey’s revision had featured the inclusion of a high number of scientific and technical terms from John Harris’s Lexicon Technicum, but in the abridgement Kersey had to make editorial decisions to shorten this massive work but still include scientific entries that could be of interest to common readers. This study discusses these methods of abridgement and assesses the importance given to medical terminology in portable volumes of this kind by comparing Kersey’s (1708) Dictionarium with the Glossographia Anglicana Nova (1707), since both shared the same target readership, the same purposes and the same emphasis on scientific terminology.

Keywords: medical terminology, abridged dictionaries, John Kersey, Dictionarium Anglo-Britannicum, Glossographia Anglicana Nova.

full text