A Table Alphabeticall is the first English dictionary, meaning that it is the earliest known book dedicated exclusively to defining English words in terms of other English words. In this work, Cawdrey only defines the common yet difficult words, making no attempt to be complete in the modern sense.

The nice people at http://www.library.utoronto.ca/utel/ret/cawdrey/ provided the original transcription, removing forms of s and r, as well as ligatures, and brevigraphs.

Not content with a mere transcription, I have also translated Cawdrey's 400 year old English into modern E2 English, through a process involving the OED, much research and many educated guesses.

The main entries may appear in as many as five parts :
          Original {Corrected} [Repaired] (Modern) <E2>

  • Original is exactly as it appears in Cawdrey.
  • Corrected fixes what I believe to be a typo.
    a good clue for typos is words not in alphabetical order
  • Repaired swaps I with J, and U with V, as necessary for current alphabetic usage.
  • Modern gives the modern American spelling.
    often this only involves changing ie to y, or removing one of a double letter
  • E2 removes plurals and verb endings and such, so it links to an existing node.

Each operation is performed on its left-hand neighbor. The results are omitted if nothing changed. Only the rightmost word is hard-linked.

If an entry is marked with clueless, then my search for a modern version of the word has come up empty.

If you notice any errors or omissions in the parts I've done, please msg me.


The first edition from 1604 contained 2543 headwords, with later editions (1609, 1613 and 1617) eventually raising this number to more than 3200. The definitions themselves were usually just a few words, with occasional additional notations for Greek, French or kind of.

As with all lexicographers, Cawdrey borrowed extensively from his predecessors. These include :

Latin-English dictionaries such as

Didactic texts such as and other texts such as The title page reads :
A Table Alphabeticall, conteyning and teaching the true writing, and understanding of hard usuall English wordes, borrowed from the Hebrew, Greeke, Latine, or French. &c.

With the interpretation thereof by plaine English words, gathered for the benefit & helpe of Ladies, Gentlewomen, or any other unskilfull persons.

Whereby they may the more easilie and better understand many hard English wordes, which they shall heare or read in Scriptures, Sermons, or elswhere, and also be made able to use the same aptly themselves.

Legere, et non intelligere, neglegere est.
As good not read, as not to understand.

AT LONDON, Printed by I. R. for Edmund Weaver, & are to be sold at his shop at the great North doore of Paules Church. 1604. Contents :

Introductory material including a dedication, an epistle and "to the reader".

A, B, C, D, E, F, G, H, I/J, L, M, N, O, P, Q, R, S, T, U/V,

There are no entries under K, W, X or Y.

Z has only one entry, which is

zodiack (zodiac)
(g) a circle in the heaven, wherein be placed the 12 signes, and in which the Sunne is mooved.

The translation through 400 years of English is slow going. Currently, only A through Q have been translated.

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