The Romanes Lecture (1900)

Welcome to the facsimile text of The Evolution of English Lexicography, which is the text of the Romanes Lecture delivered by James Murray in the Sheldonian Theatre in Oxford on 22 June 1900. Murray’s lecture was the ninth Romanes Lecture to take place, this annual event having been founded in 1891 at the University of Oxford by eminent physiologist George John Romanes (1848-94).

The first edition, which is presented here, was published in 1900 by Henry Frowde, M.A., publisher to the University of Oxford at the Clarendon Press.

Go to facsimile text. Please note that this link takes you to an external site. Oxford University Press is not responsible for the content or performance of external websites.


  • Title page
  • The Lecture
  • ‘As to their language, [Dictionaries] were in the first place..Latin: as to their substance, they consisted..of glosses’, p. 7
  • ‘four of the most ancient glossaries of English origin..’, p. 11
  • ‘A momentous advance was made about 1440..the English-Latin vocabulary’, p. 16
  • ‘a new stage of development was marked by the appearance of dictionaries of English with another modern language’, p.23
  • ‘A work..explaining the meaning, of these new-fangle ‘‘hard words’’’, p. 27
  • ‘though Englishmen might not need to be told the meaning of man or woman.., they might want a hint as to their derivation’, p. 35
  • ‘the illustration of the use of each word by a selection of literary quotations..’, p. 38
  • ‘indication of the Orthoepy or Pronunciation’, p. 42
  • ‘A dictionary without definitions or explanations of meaning’, p. 44
  • ‘A new English Dictionary on Historical Principles..’, p. 46