A brief history of economic dictionaries. An essay in bibliography, Ch. 2 of Crises and cycles in economic dictionaries and encyclopedias, edited by Daniele Besomi, London: Routledge.

This chapter outlines a history of specialized dictionaries in economics and allied disciplines, presenting them grouped by their scope in chronological order. The first dictionaries qualifying themselves as ‘economic’ were in reality concerned with practical arts and agriculture (18th and early 19th century). There followed a number of commercial and financial dictionaries in the 18th century and throughout the 19th century. The former eventually turned, early in the 20th century, into general business dictionaries, while financial dictionaries are still published nowadays. The first dictionary dedicated to political economy was published in 1826, it was followed by a dozen extensive works in the remainder of the century and a myriad of smaller sized works in the 20th century. Meanwhile more general dictionaries dedicated to social sciences also began to be published. In the late 20th century, a number of sectorial and biographical dictionaries also appeared. The chapter finally offers a quantitative survey of the distribution of dictionaries according to scope, size and language.

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