John Ash (divine)
Ash was born in Dorset about 1724. He studied for the ministry at Bristol, under Bernard Foskett, became pastor at Loughwood Meeting House, a Baptist chapel in Dorset, and while there contributed to periodicals. He settled in the ministry at Pershore in 1746, as the result of a compromise between different parties in the congregation.
He obtained a degree of LL.D. from a Scottish university in 1774, and died at Pershore in March or April 1779, aged 55.
Ash is best known as a lexicographer, author of:
- New and Complete Dictionary of the English Language, 2 vols. 1775, 2nd edition 1795.
Ash's New and Complete Dictionary was noteworthy for the number of obsolete and provincial words contained in it. It incorporated most of Nathan Bailey's collection of canting words. This dictionary was the first to define in English the previously omitted words fuck and cunt. His debt to Samuel Johnson was demonstrated in a famous error in his etymology of curmudgeon, as deriving from the French for "unknown correspondent"; Johnson's A Dictionary of the English Language from twenty years before explains that the word derives from "cœur méchant" (malicious-hearted), attributing his information to an "unknown correspondent".
An earlier work was:
- Grammatical Institutes. It has been commented that "Ash understood much better than Lowth what it took to write a grammar for children."
- 'Sentiments on Education,' 2 vols. 1777; Sermon, 1778; 'Dialogues of Eumenes.'
- This article incorporates text from a publication now in the public domain: Wood, James, ed. (1907). "article name needed". The Nuttall Encyclopædia. London and New York: Frederick Warne.
- Linguistic History notes
- Notes about John Ash at Random House's Word of the Day
- Reference to Ash's New and Complete Dictionary.
- Bibliography of Primary and Secondary Texts pertaining to the Study of English in Eighteenth-Century Great Britain (at Emory.edu)
- The codifiers and the English language: tracing the norms of Standard English
- Micklethwait, David (2000). Noah Webster and the American Dictionary. Jefferson, NC: McFarland. p. 49. ISBN 978-0-7864-2157-2.
- "Ash, John (1724?-1779)". Dictionary of National Biography. London: Smith, Elder & Co. 1885–1900.
- Grammatical Institutes; or, an Easy Introduction to Dr. Lowth's English Grammar: Designed for the Use of Schools, and to lead Young Gentlemen and Ladies into the Knowledge of the First Principles of the English Language. London, 1760.
- Grammatical Institutes; or, An Easy Introduction to Dr. Lowth's Grammar, 1785 ed. (facsimile ed., 1979, Scholars' Facsimiles & Reprints, ISBN 978-0-8201-1339-5).