Dr. Johnson was a great lexicographer, but he could have used a copy editor
"I have, notwithstanding this discouragement, attempted a dictionary of the English language, which, while it was employed in the cultivation of every species of literature, has itself been hitherto neglected, suffered to spread, under the direction of chance, into wild exuberance, resigned to the tyranny of time and fashion, and exposed to the corruptions of ignorance, and caprices of innovation."
— Samuel Johnson, from the preface to A Dictionary of the English Language
I bought an abridged edition of the great book a few months ago. In honor of the book's birthday, here is a surprise I found within:
"asshead n.s. [from ass and head] One slow of apprehension; a blockhead.The remarkable thing, other than the word's beguiling punch, is that the line is not, in fact, from Hamlet, but rather from Twelfth Night, Act V, Scene i
"Will you help an asshead, and a coxcomb, an a knave, a thin-faced knave, a gull."
© Peter Rozovsky 2014