About Us

Merriam-Webster FAQ

What is Merriam-Webster?

Merriam-Webster is America's foremost publisher of language-related reference works. In addition to its award-winning Merriam-Webster.com dictionary site, the company offers a diverse array of print and digital language references, including Merriam-Webster's Collegiate® Dictionary, Eleventh Edition—America's best-selling desk dictionary—and the online Merriam-Webster Unabridged, which is the successor to its famed Webster's Third New International Dictionary.

Does Merriam-Webster have any connection to Noah Webster?

Merriam-Webster can be considered the direct lexicographical heir of Noah Webster. In 1843, the company bought the rights to the 1841 edition of Webster's magnum opus, An American Dictionary of the English Language, Corrected and Enlarged. At the same time, they secured the rights to create revised editions of the work. Since that time, Merriam-Webster editors have carried forward Noah Webster's work, creating some of the most widely used and respected dictionaries and reference books in the world. For more information, see Noah Webster and America's First Dictionary.

When was Merriam-Webster founded?

In 1831, brothers George and Charles Merriam opened a printing and bookselling operation in Springfield, Massachusetts which they named G. & C. Merriam Co. The company, which was renamed Merriam-Webster, Incorporated, in 1982, has been in continuous operation since that time. For more information on the history of Merriam-Webster, see Merriam-Webster Continues Noah Webster's Legacy and Merriam-Webster's Ongoing Commitment.

How long has Merriam-Webster been publishing dictionaries?

The first Merriam-Webster dictionary was issued on September 24, 1847. It cost $6.00 per copy and earned the praise of such notable figures as President James K. Polk and General Zachary Taylor.

Which dictionary is used on Merriam-Webster.com?

The Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary is a unique, regularly updated, online-only reference.

Although originally based on Merriam-Webster's Collegiate® Dictionary, Eleventh Edition, the Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary has since been significantly updated and expanded with new entries and revised definitions. It also has additional content and engagement features specifically designed for the digital user.

In cases where discrepancies occur between the print Collegiate® Dictionary and the Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, the Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary typically provides the most up-to-date information.

Are all Webster's dictionaries alike?

No. After Noah Webster's death in 1843 and throughout the 19th century, Merriam-Webster produced the finest American dictionaries, building the reputation of the name "Webster's" to a point where it became a byword for quality dictionaries. But in the late 1800s and early 1900s, legal difficulties concerning the copyright and trademark of the name Webster arose, and eventually many different publishers—some rather unscrupulous—began putting dictionaries on the market under the Webster's name.

The net effect of the proliferation of Webster dictionaries is a reference-book marketplace in which consumers are unaware of or confused about what differentiates one Webster from another. In an attempt to draw attention to the issue, in 1982 our company changed its name from G. & C. Merriam Company to Merriam-Webster, Incorporated. In 1991, Merriam-Webster reinforced that move by introducing the phrase Not just Webster. Merriam-Webster™ to further identify and distinguish its products and to place greater emphasis on a tradition of quality Dictionary-making that we feel is uniquely ours.

Other publishers may use the name Webster, but only Merriam-Webster products are backed by over 150 years of accumulated knowledge and experience. The Merriam-Webster name is your assurance that a reference work carries the quality and authority of a company that has been publishing since 1831.

How can I contact Merriam-Webster with questions about their products?

You can e-mail Merriam-Webster. Or you can send a fax to the attention of the Sales Department at: (413) 731-5979. Or you can write to us the old-fashioned way at:

Merriam-Webster, Inc.
47 Federal Street
P.O. Box 281
Springfield, MA 01102