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TOPICAL AND SYNONYMIC LEXICON:
SEVERAL THOUSANDS OF THE MORE USEFUL TERMS OF
CLASSIFIED BY SUBJECTS,
ARRANGED ACCORDING TO THEIR AFFINITIES OF MEANING;
ACCOMPANYING ETYMOLOGIES, DEFINITIONS, AND ILLUSTRATIONS.
TO WHICH ARE ADDED
1.-LISTS OF FOREIGN TERMS AND PHRASES FREQUENTLY OCCURRING IN
Entered, according to Act of Congress, in the year 1859,
BY JOHN WILLIAMS,
In the Clerk's office of the District Court for the Southern District of Ohio.
THERE are but few of our schools in which any attention is paid to definitions, and in none does this subject receive the degree of attention which its importance demands: nor is there more than here and there a person who, at any period of his life, has endeavored to improve his acquaintance with the signification of words by the use of a dictionary. It follows, therefore, as a consequence of this twofold neglect, that most persons have no other knowledge of the meaning of words than such as they have acquired by observation.
Now, those who rely solely on observation are liable to frequent mistakes. Persons who have often met with a word in reading are apt to imagine that they understand it, because it is familiar to the eye, and because they have, mentally, attached some kind of a meaning to it; yet, on examination, it may be found that they have either mistaken the meaning entirely, or that they have, at best, but a confused idea of the sense of the term. Of the young men and women of our country, there is hardly one in ten who can define the words fragrant, verdant, royal, omniscient, omnipotent, celestial, terrestrial, gratitude, fortitude, and hundreds of others equally common and useful. They would, if interrogated, give definitions like the following: Fragrant means beautiful; Verdant signifies fresh; Royal means delicious; etc., etc. The foregoing definitions, and hundreds of others similar to them, have actually been given before a Board of County Examiners, of which the author has been a member.
It is important that young persons should form a habit of referring to a dictionary in all cases of words which they do not understand. But to be able to use a dictionary advantageously requires a certain amount of preparatory discipline. Those who have had no practice in the study of definitions, are apt to be confused rather than enlightened in consulting a common dictionary. The definitions themselves often need to be defined, and the student is frequently at a loss to make an appropriate selection from several different definitions of the same word.
One object of the present work is to prepare the student for a discrim inating and profitable use of the dictionary. The author trusts that his definitions will be found sufficiently simple and intelligible for the use of all pupils who are old enough to engage in the study of a class-book of definitions.
Another object has been to collect and define so large a proportion of the most common and useful words of the language, as in a good measure to supersede the necessity of using a dictionary.
To attain these ends, the topical, instead of the alphabetical principle of arrangement, has been adopted.
The following are some of the advantages of the classification of words by topics: