Dictionaries tell stories of many kinds. The history of dictionaries, of how they were produced, published and used, has much to tell us about the language and the culture of the past. This monumental work of scholarship draws on published and archival material to survey a wide range of dictionaries of western European languages (including English, German, Latin and Greek) published between the early sixteenth and mid seventeenth centuries. John Considine establishes a new and powerful model for the social and intellectual history of lexicography by examining dictionaries both as imaginative texts and as scholarly instruments. He tells the stories of national and individual heritage and identity that were created through the making of dictionaries in the early modern period. Far from dry, factual collections of words, dictionaries are creative works, shaping as well as recording early modern culture and intellectual history.