These dictionaries were, however, very different from dictionaries written nowadays in the sense that they contained only difficult and unusual words. A large number of learned words from other languages were introduced into the English language during that period and it was not always easy for a common man to be fully conversant with the exact shade of meaning conveyed by those words.

The dictionaries published during this period were intended to give all the information that a common man needed to understand those words. The purpose of these dictionaries can be understood from their subtitles.

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The full title of Bullokar’s dictionary was An English Expositor: Teaching the Interpretation of the hardest Words used in our Language, with sundry Explications, Descriptions and Discourses. The full title of Cockeram’s dictionary was The English Dictionary: An Interpreter of hard English Words. Cawdrey’s dictionary, which is the very first Dictionary of the English Language, contained some archaic native words in addition to words borrowed from Hebrew, Greek, Latin and French.

In the minds of these lexicographers, particularly in the mind of Bullokar, there was no sharp line of distinction between a dictionary and an encyclopedia. So in addition to just giving the bare meaning of words, Bullokar tried at times to provide the kind of information that one would normally expect in an encyclopedia these days. This is evident from the words descriptions and discourses in the title of Bullokar’s book.