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The Century Dictionary: Online in DjVu Format


The Century Dictionary Online is now the largest freely available online dictionary. Because DjVu images can be zoomed to 1200%, it is also in effect the only comprehensive "large print" dictionary on the web. The entire text - 12 volumes, more than 10,000 pages, more than 500,000 definitions, 22 million searchable words, a biographical Cyclopedia, and a colorful world atlas - is now available. With a user interface that includes headword browsing and lookup as well as fast full text searches made possible by DjVu's OCR capabilities, The Century Dictionary Online offers users a real experience of déjà vu, a chance to reëxperience the legendary beauty and renowned scholarship of The Century Dictionary in all its particulars and yet in ways never possible before.

Why The Century Dictionary?
A Preface to The Century Dictionary Online

A "NUMBER of people have asked us why we have gone to all this trouble to put a hundred-year-old dictionary on the World Wide Web. The answer can be summed up in three words: it's free, it's big, and it's beautiful. Not long after I finished working for the Oxford English Dictionary and started working with the DjVu development group at AT&T Labs, I realized that the DjVu format offered exciting, new possibilities for publishing dictionaries and other large-scale reference works online.........

.... In a way The Century Dictionary can be considered the Titanic of dictionaries, fabled in its day as the largest, most comprehensive dictionary yet completed. (In fact, with one exception, it is still the largest English language dictionary in existence.) Its chief editor, William Dwight Whitney, Professor of Comparative Philology and Sanskrit at Yale, was the most renowned English-speaking linguist of his time. Funded by the Century Company of New York, which also published the Century Magazine and St. Nicholas, Whitney, who had been an editor of the famed 1864 edition of Webster's, was able to assemble a staff of contributors that included such luminaries of American scholarship as Charles Peirce, Gifford Pinchot, and John Dewey. The printer of The Century Dictionary was Theodore Low De Vinne, the finest American printer of the time, and the contributing artists included the young Ernest Thompson Seton.....

.... Indeed, The Century Dictionary is still considered by many scholars to be the greatest American dictionary of all time....

.... To return at last to the premise with which this little preface began (in our beginnings, after all, we may find our ends), we created The Century Dictionary Online because it is free, it is big, and it is beautiful. I should add finally, a couple of more reasons: married to DjVu technology, it is innovative, and perhaps most important, it is still an American treasure."


    MADISON, N.J., March 20th, 2001.