A Dictionary of the English Language
In 1747, he wrote his Plan of a Dictionary of the English Language. In this work he developed the methods and exact plan to create his masterpiece. He was aware of the fact that he was not the first to compile such a dictionary. He benefited from earlier efforts and saw no problem in adopting parts or borrowings from his predecessors.
At the end his Dictionary contained 42,773 words. An innovation of Johnsonís way of lexicography was to show the meaning of words by adding literary quotations. Shakespeare rated among the authors most often referred to. Another innovation was the description of the usage of the word, instead of just telling the meaning. Unlike todayís dictionaries, Johnsonís Dictionary contained a lot of humour and even prejudice. Another very interesting aspect is the linguistically conservatism transported especially in the spelling.
The etymology and pronunciation has to be considered as poor from todayís point of view, but nevertheless A Dictionary of the English Language a landmark for the English language. The first edition of the Dictionary was published in 1755. In his later career he did not only write several poems and essays but kept on working on his masterpiece as an editor.
Johnson died in 1784 and was buried in Westminster Abbey.