Popular handwritten dictionaries.

[18th century]

3 parts in an in-8 volume of 58 pp, 106 pp, 64 pp, period binding.

Exceptional collection of three dictionaries and a small lexicon of 18th-century manuscript marine terms, offering a total of around 2,000 alphabetically-sorted entries.

The entries are mainly nouns, but also verbs, adjectives and adverbial phrases. They are drawn from everyday life, with definitions of popular terms (e.g. “gaupe salope”, “dyke putain”), and many specific subjects such as physics, architecture, logic, history, philosophy, mythology and theology.
The writer sometimes specifies in his definition: term darchi, t. dagri, t. dephisi, t. de philo, t. de grammaire.
Definitions are often short, sometimes limited to a few words, leading us to guess that they are personal definitions, like transcriptions of oral explanations.
The only exception is the definition of the word “Insecte”, which is a quotation “de l'auteur du Spectacle de la nature”.
Definitions sometimes deviate from commonly accepted usage: “aperitif qui fait uriner” or “factice qui est fait expres”. This handwritten specimen is a far cry from the encyclopedic dictionaries of the day.

The definition “gobelins : lieu à paris ou l'on fait d'excellentes garnitures” might indicate that the manuscript is of provincial origin. The small marine lexicon may suggest a port city. An in-depth study of the terms in the volume could reveal regional specificities.

These anonymous dictionaries were written by the same hand in very legible handwriting. The heavily handled binding and slightly later text additions indicate that the volume was particularly consulted. The last two parts have been bound in a vellum tab.

An important unpublished source on the use of the French language that deserves further study.

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