Whose definition is it anyway?

A new online dictionary encourages users to define words how they like. What would Samuel Johnson have made of it?

One of the few things about which the great Samuel Johnson was in serious error was his definition of the lexicographer as a "harmless drudge". For while drudgery may certainly be involved in the writing of dictionaries and the "detailing of the signification of words", as he put it, the office of imposing limits and controls upon the principal tools we use to understand ourselves and the world we live in can hardly be described as "harmless"....

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