Understanding Nephi with the Help of Noah Webster

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Abstract: Dictionaries, especially Noah Webster’s 1828 American Dictionary of the English Language, can be useful and informative resources to help us better understand the language of the Book of Mormon. This article compares definitions of words and phrases found in the book of 1 Nephi, using Webster’s 1828 dictionary and the New Oxford American Dictionary as references. By comparing these two dictionaries, we can see how word usage and meanings have changed since the original publication of the Book of Mormon in 1830. We can also gain a greater appreciation of the text of the Book of Mormon in a way that its first readers probably understood it.

Some time ago I decided to read Charles Dickens’ famous story A Christmas Carol. Published in 1843, it tells the fictional account of the amazing transformation of a selfish and greedy miser — Ebenezer Scrooge — into a loving and generous man. Although I was able to follow the story well enough, there were certain words and phrases that challenged my understanding, requiring me to consult the Internet and dictionaries for clarification. In one scene, Mrs. Cratchit entered the room “with the pudding, like a speckled cannon-ball, so hard and firm, blazing in half of half-a-quartern of ignited brandy, and bedight with Christmas holly stuck into [Page 98]the top.”1 When I read this, several things popped out at me. First, having never seen a pudding that was “like a speckled cannon ball, so hard and firm,” I wondered what it could be. Second, what was a quartern? Finally, what did bedight mean?

From various sources on the Internet, I learned that Mrs. Cratchit’s “cannon ball” was actually plum pudding and would probably be considered cake by Americans.2 I also learned that the “plums” in this pudding were probably raisins. One of the definitions for plum at that time was “a grape dried in the sun; a raisin.”3 A quartern, as it turns out, is a quarter of a pint, or a half of a cup.4 Today, this word is considered archaic and is no longer used.5 So, a “half of half-a-quartern” of brandy would actually be 1/16th of a pint, or 1/8th of a cup. Finally, although considered archaic today,6 bedight, during Dickens’s time, meant “to adorn; to dress; set off with ornaments.”7

Dictionaries are wonderful tools that can help us understand the meaning of words and phrases, especially those from a particular time and culture. Dictionaries can also allow [Page 99]us to see how word usage and meanings change over time. If I had not consulted a dictionary while reading A Christmas Carol, I still would have been able to picture in my mind the flaming dessert with the holly on top, but I would have missed many of the nuances of the story. A “half of half-a quartern” is a paltry amount of brandy. It is possible that Dickens intended by this measurement to show that, in spite of their poverty, the Cratchits were still able to celebrate Christmas festively, although meagerly.

First published in 1830, the Book of Mormon can pose many of the same challenges to our modern minds as Dickens’s famous Christmas story. When readers study the Book of Mormon, many of the subtleties and nuances can be missed if they do not understand how particular words and phrases were used at the time of the book’s initial publication.

Before delving into the body of this paper, it is necessary to cite the primary sources that I have used and their notations in order to prevent any confusion on the part of the reader:

  1. First, The Book of Mormon: The Earliest Text, edited by Royal Skousen (New Haven and London: Yale University Press, 2009). I refer to this source as “earliest text.” Unless otherwise stated, I have used this edition as my source for all Book of Mormon words and citations.
  2. The Book of Mormon published by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (2013). I refer to this source as “LDS.”
  3. Noah Webster’s first edition of American Dictionary of the English Language, republished in facsimile edition by the Foundation for American Christian Education (2010). This text is a facsimile copy of Webster’s two-volume American Dictionary of the English Language, which was originally published in 1828. I refer to this source as “Webster.” I have utilized this dictionary in an attempt to understand the usage of English words and [Page 100]phrases in America at the time of the translation and initial publication of the Book of Mormon.
  4. Finally, the New Oxford American Dictionary, third edition, published by the Oxford University Press (2010). I refer to this source as “Oxford.” I used this dictionary as a source for definitions of English words and phrases as currently used in America.

Fortunately for our study of the Book of Mormon, in 1828, proximate with the translation and publication of the Book of Mormon, Noah Webster published a dictionary of the English language as it was spoken and understood in post-colonial America. Webster published his first dictionary, A Compendious Dictionary of the English Language, in 1806 at the age of 48.8 On April 14, 1828, he published his updated and expanded second dictionary, American Dictionary of the English Language, in New Haven, New York.9 Two days earlier, and 100 miles southeast of New Haven, Martin Harris arrived at the Joseph Smith Jr. farm in Harmony, Pennsylvania, to act as Joseph’s scribe for the translation of the Book of Mormon.10

While it is unknown if Joseph Smith Jr. owned, came in contact with, or was otherwise influenced by Webster prior to the publication of the Book of Mormon, it is reasonable to assume that this dictionary accurately reflected the common understanding of English words and phrases in use at that period of time and geographic locale. It is credibly certain, however, that Oliver Cowdery, a key participant in the translation and printing of the Book of Mormon, did consult and quote from a dictionary on at least one occasion prior to the publication of the Book of Mormon. Oliver, responding on behalf of Martin [Page 101]Harris to an inquiry about the question of Joseph’s authorship of the Book of Mormon, wrote the following on November 9, 1829:

Your first inquiry was, whether it was proper to say, that Joseph Smith Jr., was the author? If I rightly understand the meaning of the word author, it is, the first beginner, or mover of any thing, or a writer [emphasis added]. Now Joseph Smith Jr., certainly was the writer of the work, called the book of Mormon, which was written in ancient Egyptian characters, — which was a dead record to us until translated. And he, by a gift from God, has translated it into our language. Certainly he was the writer of it, and could be no less than the author.11

The italicized portion of Oliver’s letter reads like a citation from a dictionary. In fact, several sources for this likely citation are possible, including Webster. Published in London in 1755, but widely circulated in America, Samuel Johnson’s Dictionary of the English Language included the following for the word author: “1. The first beginner or mover of any thing; he to whom any thing owes its original. 2. The efficient; he that effects or produces any thing. 3. The first writer of anything; distinct from the translator or compiler [emphasis in original]. 4. A writer in general.”12

[Page 102]In 1797, John Walker published his Critical Pronouncing Dictionary in London with a similar but shortened definition: “The first beginner or mover of any thing; the efficient, he that effects or produces any thing; the first writer of anything; a writer in general.”13 Interestingly, he omitted the phrase “distinct from the translator or compiler” from his definition. This dictionary underwent many publications, including one in New York in 1825, which incorporated the identical definition for the word author, and which would have been readily accessible to Oliver.14 Webster, also available to Oliver in 1829, defined author as: “1. One who produces, creates, or brings into being; as God is the author of the Universe.

2. The beginner, former, or first mover of any thing; hence, the efficient cause of a thing. It is appropriately applied to one who composes or writes a book, or original work, and in a more general sense, to one whose occupation is to compose and write books; opposed to compiler or translator.”15 While maintaining similar wording to Johnson and Walker, Webster added new definitions and restored Johnson’s interpretation of a translator or compiler as distinct from that of an author.

Webster has been cited in many LDS scholarly papers as a useful source to aid our understanding of the Book of Mormon. A quick search of the Neal A. Maxwell Institute for Religious Scholarship website (http://maxwellinstitute.byu.edu) yielded 44 results containing the phrase “American Dictionary of the English Language.” All but two of those results referenced Webster’s 1828 dictionary. However, even with all of this attention, I was unable to find any published papers that made [Page 103]a systematic comparison between Webster and our modern (Oxford) understanding of English words and phrases as they appear in the Book of Mormon.

My purpose in conducting this study was to discover how usage and definitions of words and phrases from the Book of Mormon differed from its initial publication in 1830, using Webster as my source of definitions, to our present time, using Oxford as my modern source. I decided to restrict the scope of this study to the words of Nephi as found in 1 Nephi. I chose not to include chapters 20 and 21 of 1 Nephi for two reasons. First, those chapters are essentially the words of Isaiah, not Nephi. Second, the English usage in those chapters is more closely aligned with language from the 1611 kjv bible, which would render any comparisons to Webster’s 1828 dictionary of limited value.

I operated from two fundamental suppositions in my research. First, the meanings of words and phrases are prone to change over time. While some of these changes may be subtle, others can be very significant. Second, if we are not familiar with words and phrases in the context and culture in which they were originally understood, we may not be able to fully grasp the message they were intended to convey. Included in this second supposition is the belief that the Lord revealed the Book of Mormon to Joseph Smith Jr. in a language that he and others of his time understood and with which they felt comfortable. Also included in this supposition is the belief that if the Book of Mormon had been revealed in our day for the first time, the word usage would have been adapted to fit our current understanding and usage of the language.

In the body of this paper, I have provided a limited number of examples of definitional changes of words and phrases. A complete listing of observed changes is included in the annexed table. One example of a definitional variation is our modern understanding of the phrase “by and by,” an expression used [Page 104]five times in the Book of Mormon. According to Oxford, this idiom means “before long; eventually.”16 Webster defines this as “a phrase denoting nearness in time; in a short time after; presently; soon.”17 While these two definitions are similar in that they both refer to a future event, the immediacy of Webster’s definition is missing from Oxford.

A more significant change can be found in the phrase “to fall down.” Both Oxford and Webster include the sense of collapsing, sinking, or coming to the ground. Additionally, Webster includes “to prostrate one’s self in worship” and “to bend or bow as a suppliant,”18 definitions not given in Oxford. An added meaning is given in Oxford: “to be shown to be inadequate or false; fail.”19 In Lehi’s vision of the Tree of Life, Nephi tells us that his father saw four distinct groups of people. In his description of one of these groups, he states that when they arrived at the tree they “fell down and partook of the fruit” (1 Nephi 8:30). While it is possible that this group simply collapsed to the ground from exhaustion and fatigue, it is most probable that the individuals prostrated themselves in worship upon recognizing the significance of the tree. Most certainly, this was not an act of inadequacy, falsehood, or failure, as the modern definition could indicate. The idea that “fell down” should be understood as “prostrate oneself in worship” is given credence by an incident that occurred while building the ship in Bountiful. Nephi stretched out his hand to his brothers and the Lord shook them. Nephi wrote that when this happened the brothers “fell down before me, and were about to worship me” (1 Nephi 17:55).

Nephi, in the first verse of the Book of Mormon, describes his parents as “goodly.” Contrary to the belief of many modern [Page 105]readers, goodly does not mean good in the contemporary sense. Oxford defines this word as meaning “considerable in size or quantity.”20 Oxford also defines the word as meaning “attractive, excellent or admirable,”21 but only in archaic usage. Webster defined this word as: “1. Being of a handsome form; beautiful; graceful; 2. Pleasant; agreeable; desirable; 3. Bulky; swelling; affectedly turgid.”22 It is reasonably certain that Nephi did not describe his parents as “goodly” because they were large people or because they were beautiful. Nephi’s intended meaning must have been closer to Webster’s second definition, “pleasant; agreeable; desirable,” which strongly aligns with Oxford’s archaic usage of “excellent or admirable.” In this example, using Oxford’s modern definition would lead us to significantly misunderstand this passage.

The Lord told Lehi that his sons were to “take daughters to wife that they might raise up seed unto the Lord in the land of promise” (1 Nephi 7:1). Interestingly, while allowing the word “raise” to be used with plants and animals, Webster does not use it with children or families, with one exception. Webster includes “to give beginning of importance to; to elevate in reputation; as, to raise a family.” 23 Raise, in this sense, however, refers to elevating the family in the eyes of the world rather than to the nurturing or rearing a family as the phrase is used today. In support of this latter meaning, one of Oxford’s definitions for raise is to “bring up (a child),” followed by the example sentence: “He was born and raised in San Francisco.”24 But, Lehi did not just use the word “raise” — he used “raise [Page 106]up.” Webster gave us a possible meaning for that phrase: “To rebuild. They shall raise up the former desolations. Is. Lxi [Isaiah 61].”25 So, it is possible that instead of “raising” children, in the contemporary sense of the word, the Lord’s intention was for Lehi’s family to “rebuild” seed unto the Lord in the land of promise or, in other words, to rebuild the Lord’s people. This interpretation makes sense in light of the fact that the people of Jerusalem had just been destroyed or carried away captive into Babylon.

During his vision of the Tree of Life, we are told that Lehi and others “partook of the fruit” of the tree (1 Nephi 8:12; 8:24; 8:30). According to Oxford, the phrase “partake of” means “to eat or drink (something).”26 Webster, on the other hand, includes no such definition. Instead, Webster defines partake as: “to take a part, portion or share in common with others; to have a share or part; to participate; usually followed by of, sometimes less properly by in.”27 In other words, “partaking of” something, according to Webster, was a communal act where, as part of a group, one shared things in common with the others in the group. Webster’s usage is consistent with Moroni’s when he tells us that the members of the church “did meet together oft to partake of bread and wine in remembrance of the Lord Jesus” (Moroni 6:6). Echoing these words of Moroni, we are still instructed that, “It is expedient that the church meet together often to partake of bread and wine in the remembrance of the Lord Jesus” (D&C 20:75). Partaking of the sacrament, then and now, is not merely an act of eating and drinking nor something to be performed in isolation. Rather, it is an act in which we “take a part, portion or share in common” of the body and blood of Jesus Christ with our fellow Saints.

[Page 107]In 1 Nephi 2:11 and 17:20, we are told that Laman and Lemuel blamed their father for leading them out of the land of Jerusalem because of the “foolish imaginations” of his heart. Oxford defines foolish as “lacking good sense or judgement; unwise.”28 It defines imagination as: “The faculty or action of forming new ideas, or images or concepts of external objects not present to the senses.”29 Compiling these two words together, we could understand from Oxford that Laman and Lemuel thought that their father Lehi lacked good sense and was someone who unwisely carried out new ideas or concepts. Webster, while agreeing with these definitions, offers additional insights. Included in Webster’s definition of foolish is “wicked; sinful; acting without regard to the divine law and glory, or to one’s own eternal happiness.” For imagination, Webster includes “contrivance; scheme [plan] formed in the mind.”30 Webster defines contrivance as “artifice; plot; scheme.”31 So, with these definitions in mind, it is very possible that Laman and Lemuel were actually accusing their father not just of being an unwise dreamer but of creating a wicked plot to lead them far away with the purpose of depriving them of happiness.

This idea, that Laman and Lemuel felt that their father had created a wicked scheme, is bolstered by other passages in 1 Nephi. Immediately after accusing their father of having “foolish imaginations,” Laman and Lemuel complained to Nephi that “these many years we have suffered in the wilderness, which time we might have enjoyed our possessions and the land of our inheritance; yea, and we might have been happy” (1 Nephi 17:21). In the verse that follows, the brothers accused Lehi of wrongfully judging the Jews, whom they claimed were a “righteous people” (1 Nephi 17:22). After the death of Ishmael, [Page 108]Laman revolted against his father and against Nephi. Laman said that Nephi, whom he also accused of being “like unto our father” (1 Nephi 17:20), had planned to “lead us away into some strange wilderness; and after he has led us away, he has thought to make himself a king and a ruler over us, that he may do with us according to his will and pleasure” (1 Nephi 16:38).

Laman and Lemuel also accused Lehi of being a “visionary man” (1 Nephi 2:11). Oxford defines visionary in mostly positive terms: “thinking about or planning the future with imagination or wisdom. Of, relating to, or able to see visions in a dream or trance, or as a supernatural apparition.”32 Only in the archaic sense does it imply a negative meaning: “(of a scheme or idea) not practical.”33 As a noun, Oxford positively defines visionary as “a person with original ideas about what the future will or could be like.”34 However, Webster’s definition of visionary is not as flattering. As an adjective, it meant: “affected by phantoms; disposed to receive impressions on the imagination. Imaginary; existing in imagination only; not real; having no solid foundation.” As a noun Webster defined visionary as, “1. One whose imagination is disturbed. 2. One who forms impracticable schemes; one who is confident of success in a project which others perceive to be idle and fanciful.”35 It can be seen that Laman and Lemuel, contrary to the modern definition of the word, did not intend the use of the word visionary as a compliment, but, rather, as an insult.

Early on in the Book of Mormon, we are told that Lehi “dwelt at Jerusalem in all his days” (1 Nephi 1:4). Although Nephi did not give us a precise location where Lehi lived, his later words suggest that it was somewhere outside of Jerusalem itself. Following their first attempt to acquire the plates of brass [Page 109]from Laban, Nephi convinced his brothers to “go down to the land of our father’s inheritance” and get “gold and silver and all manner of riches” that they had left behind, and to use these to barter with Laban for the plates (1 Nephi 3:16). Webster, I believe, can help explain why “at Jerusalem” could have been an appropriate phrase when describing where Lehi lived, even though he may not have lived “in Jerusalem.” Webster’s definition for “at” states that: “In general, at denotes nearness, or presence; as at the ninth hour, at the house; but it is less definite than in or on; at the house, may be in or near the house. It denotes also towards, versus; as, to aim an arrow at a mark” [underlining added, emphasis in original].36 Oxford does not include any such clarifying explanation. Instead, its definition is much more specific: “Expressing location or arrival in a particular place or position.”37 As defined by Webster, at Jerusalem could very well be described as near Jerusalem.

Similarly, critics of the Book of Mormon often point out what they consider to be a glaring flaw in the text — the use of the phrase “at Jerusalem” when speaking of the birth of Jesus.38 Alma, in preaching to the members of the church in Gideon, said that Jesus would “be born of Mary at Jerusalem, which is the land of our forefathers” (Alma 7:10). The Bible, on the other hand, says that “Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judaea” (Matthew 2:1). While Jerusalem and Bethlehem are geographically near to each other — less than six miles or nine kilometers apart — they are, and always have been, discrete communities. Recently, although wrongly, Stephen Webb wrote that “the Book of Mormon places the birth of Jesus in Jerusalem [emphasis added], much to the delight of biblical [Page 110]fundamentalists who use such discrepancies to score debating points.”39 Unaware of Webster’s definition of “at” and given the Oxford definition, it is understandable how someone could arrive at the conclusion that at Jerusalem was intended by Nephi to mean in Jerusalem rather than near Jerusalem.

In a final example of definitional changes, Laman accused Nephi of working “many things by his cunning arts” in order to deceive the others in the group (1 Nephi 16:38). Oxford defines cunning as “having or showing skill in achieving one’s ends by deceit or evasion.”40 While Webster includes similar definitions for cunning, it also indicates that these “senses occur frequently in our version of the scriptures, but are nearly or quite obsolete.”41 Instead, Webster primarily defines cunning as “knowing; skillful; experienced; well-instructed. It is applied to all kinds of knowledge, but generally and appropriately, to the skill and dexterity of artificers, or the knowledge acquired by experience.”42

Oxford defines the arts as “the various branches of creative activity, such as painting, music, literature, and dance” and arts as “subjects of study primarily concerned with human creativity and social life, such as languages, literature, and history (as contrasted with scientific or technical subjects).”43 Webster’s definition is much more expansive:

1. The disposition or modification of things by human skill, to answer the purpose intended. In this sense art stands opposed to nature. 2. Arts are divided into useful or mechanic, and liberal or polite. The mechanic arts [Page 111]are those in which the hands and body are more concerned than the mind; as in making clothes and utensils. These arts are called trades. The liberal or polite arts are those in which the mind or imagination is chiefly concerned; as poetry, music and painting. 3. Skill, dexterity, or the power of performing certain actions, acquired by experience, study or observation [Emphasis added].44

Given these definitions from Webster, it would be reasonable to conclude that Laman did not accuse Nephi of using some type of creative trickery to deceive them. Rather, he most likely felt that Nephi was using skills or knowledge that he had acquired, possibly his knowledge of metallurgy, to deceive them.

Comparing definitions from Webster and Oxford or other modern dictionaries enables us to see how word usage and meanings have shifted since the early 19th century. As shown in the preceding examples, using Webster as a tool in our study of the Book of Mormon can help modern-day readers appreciate the text in a way that the first readers most likely understood it, which will enhance personal study.

The attached table includes the complete list of 164 words and phrases from 1 Nephi in which changes or variations in definition were encountered between Webster and Oxford. Not all of these are substantive. In fact, a few may be considered somewhat whimsical. For example, Webster defines “wroth” as “very angry; much exasperated” and then adds: “an excellent word and not obsolete.”45 I included this word, along with others like it, because, even though Oxford considers its usage archaic today, it was “an excellent word and not obsolete” at the time of the original publication of the Book of Mormon.

[Page 112]In the first and second columns of the table, I have listed the chapter, verse, and relevant text of the Book of Mormon verse under study. I do not always cite the entire verse due to space limitations. I bolded and underlined the word(s) of interest in the verse. These scriptural passages do not always represent the first occurrence of the word(s) in the text but often do. In the third column, I provided possible alternate wording, based on definitions from Webster, in order to enhance understanding of the text. In the fourth column, I have shown the definitional differences between Webster (identified as “W” in the table) and Oxford (“O” in the table). In this column, I have underlined key terms and definitions. Furthermore, I identified 35 definitional changes and variations that I considered to be the most significant, which are marked with an asterisk (*) underneath the chapter and verse in the first column. Finally, my own comments have been given in italics.

 

1st Nephi Verse

Alternate Words

Notes

11:27

And after that he was baptized, I beheld the heavens open and the Holy Ghost come down out of heaven and abode upon him in the form of a dove.

rest, tarry, stay, remain

ABIDE, v. W: 1. To rest, or dwell. 2. To tarry or stay for a short time. 3. To continue permanently or in the same state; to be firm and immovable. 4. To remain, to continue. O does not include these definitions, except to say that the archaic usage includes to live or dwell.

4:19

I took the garments of Laban and put them upon mine own body, yea, even every whit; and I did gird on his armor about my loins.

around, encircling

ABOUT, prep. W: literally, around, on the outside.] Around; on the exterior part or surface. W: AROUND 1. About; on all sides; encircling; encompassing.

O: definition of about does not include the sense of being around or encircling.

17:7[Page 113]

And it came to pass that after I Nephi had been in the land Bountiful for the space of many days, the voice of the Lord came unto me, saying: Arise, and get thee into the mountain. And it came to pass that I arose and went up into the mountain and cried unto the Lord.

ascend, get up, be active, begin to act

ARISE, v. W: 1. To ascend, mount up or move to a higher place. 5. To revive from death; to leave the grave. 6. To begin to act; to exert power; to move from a state of inaction. 8. To be put in motion; to swell or be agitated. 9. To be excited or provoked. 10. To emerge from poverty, depression or distress. 11. To appear in a particular character; to enter upon an office. 12. To begin sedition, insurrection, or mutiny. 13. To invade, assault or begin hostility; followed by against. O does not include these definitions.

18:23

And it came to pass that after we had sailed for the space of many days, we did arrive to the promised land.

come to the shore, reach

ARRIVE, v. W: 1. Literally, to come to the shore, or bank. Hence to come to or reach in progress by water, followed by at. 2. To come to or reach by traveling on land. O does not include the underlined definitions.

16:38
*

Now he saith that the Lord hath talked with him, and also that angels hath ministered unto him. But behold, we know that he lieth unto us. And he telleth us these things, and he worketh many things by his cunning arts that he may deceive our eyes, thinking perhaps that he may lead us away into some strange wilderness.

skills

ART, n. W: 1. The disposition or modification of things by human skill, to answer the purpose intended. In this sense art stands opposed to nature. 2. Arts are divided into useful or mechanic, and liberal or polite. The mechanic arts are those in which the hands and body are more concerned than the mind; as in making clothes and utensils. These arts are called trades. The liberal or polite arts are those in which the mind or imagination is chiefly concerned; as poetry, music and painting. 3. Skill, dexterity, or the power of performing certain actions, acquired by experience, study or observation. O excludes ”useful or mechanic” arts in its definition.

[Page 114]16:10

And it came to pass that as my father arose in the morning and went forth to the tent door, and to his great astonishment he beheld upon the ground a round ball of curious workmanship,

amazement, confusion, fear, surprise

ASTONISHMENT, n. W: Amazement; confusion of mind from fear, surprise or admiration, at an extraordinary or unexpected event. O: great surprise

1.4
*

– my father Lehi having dwelt at Jerusalem in all his days –

near to, towards

AT, prep. W:[primarily denotes presence, meeting, nearness, direction towards.] In general, at denotes nearness, or presence; as at the ninth hour, at the house; but it is less definite than in or on; at the house, may be in or near the house. O: expressing location or arrival in a particular place or position. W defines the word in broader terms than O. When Nephi states that his father ”dwelt at Jerusalem,” this could mean in or near Jerusalem.

1.8
*

And being thus overcome with the Spirit, he was carried away in a vision, even that he saw the heavens open and he thought he saw God sitting upon his throne, surrounded with numberless concourses of angels in the attitude of singing and praising their God.

position, posture

ATTITUDE, n. W: 1. In painting and sculpture, the posture or action in which a figure or statue is placed; the gesture of a figure or statue; such a disposition of the parts as serves to express the action and sentiments of the person represented. 2. Posture; position of things or persons. These definitions refer to physical posture, with only hints to the sentiments or feelings of the person or object representing a person. O: a settled way of thinking or feeling about someone or something, typically one that is reflected in a person’s behavior. O’s focus is on thoughts and feelings as opposed to physical posture.

[Page 115]13:32

Neither will the Lord God suffer that the Gentiles shall forever remain in that state of awful wickedness which thou beholdest they are in because of the plain and most precious parts of the gospel of the lamb which hath been kept back by that abominable church, whose formation thou has seen.

fearful, dreadful

AWFUL, adj. W. 1. That strikes with awe [fear mingled with admiration or reverence]; that fills with profound reverence; as the awful majesty of Jehovah. 2. That fills with terror and dread; as the awful approach of death. 3. Struck with awe; scrupulous. O: 1. Very bad or unpleasant. Extremely shocking; horrific, [attributive] used to emphasize the extent of something, especially something unpleasant or negative, (of a person) very unwell, troubled, or unhappy. 2. archaic, inspiring reverential wonder or fear. W does not include the underlined definitions.

7:17

O Lord, according to my faith which is in me, wilt thou deliver me from the hands of my brethren? Yea, even give me strength that I may burst these bands with which I am bound.

cords, restraints

BAND, n. W: 1. A fillet; a cord; a tie; a chain; any narrow ligament with which a thing is bound, tied or fastened, or by which a number of things are confined together. O: archaic: a thing that restrains, binds, or unites.

18:7

And now my father had begat two sons in the wilderness;

fathered

BEGET, v. W: 1. To procreate, as a father or sire; to generate; as, to beget a son. O: (typically of a man, sometimes of a man and a woman) bring (a child) into existence by the process of reproduction.

1:17

Behold, I make an abridgment of the record of my father upon plates which I have made with mine own hands.

look, see, pay attention, take notice. An exclamation often without any significant meaning.

BEHOLD, v. W: 1. to look; to direct the eyes to an object. 2. To fix the attention upon an object; to attend; to direct or fix the mind. O: archaic or literary, see or observe (a thing or person, especially a remarkable or impressive one). In addition to indicating that the word is archaic, O defines this word strictly in a physical sense, whereas W defines the word more broadly.

[Page 116]17:20

Yea, he hath led us out of the land of Jerusalem, and we have wandered in the wilderness for these many years. And our women have toiled being big with child,

pregnant (any stage of pregnancy)

BIG, adj. W: 1. Bulky; protuberant; pregnant, applied to females. Big, in the sense of pregnant, is followed by with; as, big with child. The use of , big of child, is not good English. O: Archaic, in a late stage of pregnancy.

7.8

Behold, thou art mine elder brethren, and how is it that ye are so hard in your hearts and so blind in your minds that ye have need that I, your younger brother, should speak unto you?

dark, lacking light, depraved

BLIND, n. W: 4. Dark; obscure; not easy to be found; not easily discernible; 6. In scripture, blind implies not only want of discernment, but moral depravity. O does not include these definitions.

17:46

Yea, and ye know that by his word he can cause that rough places be made smooth and smooth places shall be broken up.

opened, plowed, harrowed up

BREAK, v. W: To break up, to dissolve or put an end to. 1. To open or lay open; as, to break up a bed of earth. 2. To plow ground the first time, or after lying long unplowed; a common use in the U. States. O does not include the underlined definitions.

18:17

Now my father Lehi had said many things unto them and also unto the sons of Ishmael, but behold, they did breathe out much threatenings against anyone that should speak for me.

threaten, express

BREATHE, v. W: 2. To expire; to eject by breathing; followed by out; as, to breathe out threatening and slaughter. While O includes to breathe out, it is used strictly as a physiological process and not as a threat of violence as in W.

16:25

And it came to pass that the voice of the Lord came unto my father; and he was truly chastened because of his murmuring against the Lord, insomuch that he was brought down into the depths of sorrow.

bring down (physical). Cast down, humble or abase (spiritual).

BRING down, v. W: to cause to come down; also, to humble or abase. O does not include the underlined definition.

[Page 117]19:11

The Lord God surely shall visit all the house of Israel at that day, some with his voice, because of their righteousness, unto their great joy and salvation, and others with the thunderings and the lightnings of his power, by tempest, by fire, and by smoke, and vapor of darkness, and by the opening of the earth, and by mountains which shall be carried up.

extended, brought up

CARRY, v. W: 10. To extend or continue in time, as to carry a historical account to the first ages of the world; but usually with a particle, as to carry up or carry back, to carry forward. It appears from W’s wording that to carry up means to extend, while to carry back or carry forward are references to time. O does not include this definition.

11:1

wherefore as I sat pondering in mine heart, I was caught away in the Spirit of the Lord,

snatched, taken suddenly, carried

CATCH, v. W: 8. To snatch; to take suddenly; as, to catch a book out of the hand. AWAY, adv. W: 4. With verbs, it serves to modify their sense and form peculiar phrases. O does not include the underlined definition, nor does it include this explanation for away.

16:39

yea, even the voice of the Lord came and did speak many words unto them and did chasten them exceedingly. And after that they were chastened by the voice of the Lord they did turn away their anger.

correct, punish, afflict, purify

CHASTEN, v. W: 1. To correct by punishment; to punish; to inflict pain for the purpose of reclaiming an offender. 2. To afflict by other means. 3. To purify from errors or faults. O: 1(of a reproof or misfortune) have a restraining or moderating effect on. Archaic, (especially of God) discipline; punish.

2:20

And inasmuch as ye shall keep my commandments, ye shall prosper and shall be led to a land of promise; yea, even a land which I have prepared for you, a land which is choice above all other lands.

preferred, select, valuable, selected with care

CHOICE, adj. W: 1. Worthy of being preferred; select; precious; very valuable. 2. Holding dear; preserving or using with care, as valuable; frugal; as, to be choice of time or of advantages. 3. Selecting with care, and due attention to preference; as, to be choice of ones company. O: 1 (especially of food) of very good quality. 2 (of words, phrases, or language) rude and abusive.

[Page 118]7:15

And now if ye have choice, go up to the land, and remember the words which I speak unto you, that if ye go, ye will also perish.

judgment or skill in giving a preference, determination of mind, vote

CHOICE, n. W: 1. The act of choosing; the voluntary act of selecting or separating from two or more things that which is preferred; or the determination of the mind in preferring one thing to another; election. 3. Care in selecting; judgment or skill in distinguishing what is to be preferred, and in giving a preference. 5. The best part of any thing; that which is preferable, and properly the object of choice. 6. The act of electing to office by vote; election. O does not include the underlined definitions.

5:6

And after this manner of language did my father Lehi comfort my mother Sariah concerning us while we journeyed in the wilderness up to the land of Jerusalem to obtain the record of the Jews.

strengthen, cheer, enliven, reassure

COMFORT, v. W: 1. To strengthen; to invigorate; to cheer or enliven. 2. To strengthen the mind when depressed or enfeebled; to console; to give new vigor to the spirits; to cheer, or relieve from depression, or trouble. O: make (someone) feel less unhappy.; console; help (someone) feel at ease; reassure. W appears to allow for the use of comfort even when the person is not depressed, unhappy, or in need of reassurance, while O seems to presuppose a state of unhappiness or apprehension.

[Page 119]18:12
*

And it came to pass that after they had bound me, insomuch that I could not move, the compass which had been prepared of the Lord did cease to work;

instrument for directing the course at sea or in the desert

COMPASS, n. W: 5. An instrument for directing or ascertaining the course of ships at sea, consisting of a circular box, containing a paper card marked with the 32 points of direction, fixed on a magnetic needle, that always points to the north, the variation excepted. 7. An instrument used in surveying land, constructed in the main like the mariners’ compass; but with this difference, that the needle is not fitted into the card, moving with it, but plays alone. This instrument is used in surveying land, and in directing travelers in a desert or forest, miners, etc. O makes no distinction between the traditional magnetic compass (definition 7 of W) and the mariners’ compass (definition 5 of W). Even though the Liahona, as Alma called it, probably was not a magnetic instrument, and varied from the construction of the modern magnetic compass (two spindles or needles versus one), it did fill the role of directing the course of the ship at sea and of the travelers in the desert.

11:16
*

And he said unto me: Knowest thou the condescension of God?

voluntary descent, submission, kindness

CONDESCENSION, n. W: Voluntary descent from rank, dignity or just claims; relinquishment of strict right; submission to inferiors in granting requests or performing acts which strict justice does not require. Hence, courtesy. O: an attitude of patronizing superiority; disdain.

[Page 120]14:2

And they shall be a blessed people upon the promised land forever. They shall be no more brought down into captivity, and the house of Israel shall no more be confounded.

mingle, perplex, shame, terrify, dismay, destroy

CONFOUND, v. W: 1. To mingle and blend different things, so that their forms or natures cannot be distinguished; to mix in a mass or crowd, so that individuals cannot be distinguished. 2. To throw into disorder. 4. To perplex; to disturb the apprehension by indistinctness of ideas or words. 5. To abash; to throw the mind into disorder; to cast down; to make ashamed. 6. To perplex with terror; to terrify; to dismay; to astonish; to throw into consternation; to stupify [sic] with amazement. 7. To destroy; to overthrow. O does not include the underlined definitions.

17:48

In the name of the Almighty God I command you that ye touch me not, for I am filled with the power of God, even unto the consuming of my flesh.

burning, destroying, devouring

CONSUMING, ppr. W: 1. Burning; wasting; destroying; expending; eating; devouring. O: CONSUME, v. 1. Eat, drink or ingest (food or drink). 2. Buy (goods or services). 3.Use up (a resource). 4. (esp. a fire) to completely destroy. 5. (of a feeling) absorb all the energy and attention of (someone). W does not include the underlined definitions.

9:4

And upon the other plates should be engraven an account of the reigns of the kings and the wars and contentions of my people

struggles, violence, quarrels, debates

CONTENTION, n. W: 1. Strife; struggle; a violent effort to obtain something, or to resist a person, claim or injury; contest; quarrel. 3. Strife or endeavor to excel; emulation. 4. Eagerness; zeal; ardor; vehemence of endeavor. O: Heated disagreement. An assertion, especially one maintained in argument.

[Page 121]14:7

a work which shall be everlasting, either on the one hand or on the other, either to the convincing of them unto peace and life eternal or unto the deliverance of them to the hardness of their hearts and the blindness of their minds, unto their being brought down into captivity,

persuade, compel, convict, constrain, prove

CONVINCE, v. W: 1. To persuade or satisfy the mind by evidence; to subdue the opposition of the mind to truth, or to what is alledged [sic], and compel it to yield its assent. 2. To convict; to prove guilty; to constrain one to admit or acknowledge himself to be guilty. 3. To envince [sic]; to prove. 4. To overpower; to surmount; to vanquish. O does not include the underlined definitions.

17:12

I will make that thy food shall become sweet, that ye cook it not.

prepare

COOK, v. W: 1. To prepare, as victuals for the table, by boiling, roasting, baking, broiling, &c. To dress, as meat or vegetables, for eating. 2. To prepare for any purpose. O does not include the underlined definition.

19:7

I say trample under their feet, but I would speak in other words — they set him at naught, and hearken not to the voice of his counsels.

will, directions, truth, doctrines 

COUNSEL, n. W: 7. In a scriptural sense, purpose; design; will; decree. 8. Directions of Gods word. 9. The will of God or his truth and doctrines concerning the way of salvation. O does not include these definitions.

19:10

yea, the God of Abraham and of Isaac and the God of Jacob yieldeth himself according to the words of the angel as a man into the hands of wicked men, to be lifted up according to the words of Zenoch, and to be crucified according to the words of Neum,

rejected and despised, subdued, mortified

CRUCIFY, v. W: 1. To nail to a cross; to put to death by nailing the hands and feet to a cross or gibbet, sometimes anciently, by fastening a criminal to a tree, with cords. 2. In scriptural language, to subdue; to mortify; to destroy the power or ruling influence of. 3. To reject and despise. O does not include the underlined definitions.

[Page 122]16:38
*

Now he saith that the Lord hath talked with him, and also that angels hath ministered unto him. But behold, we know that he lieth unto us. And he telleth us these things, and he worketh many things by his cunning arts that he may deceive our eyes, thinking perhaps that he may lead us away into some strange wilderness.

skillful, curious (see curious below), deceitful, trickish

CUNNING, adj. W: 1. Knowing; skillful; experienced; well-instructed. It is applied to all kinds of knowledge, but generally and appropriately, to the skill and dexterity of artificers, or the knowledge acquired by experience. 2. Wrought with skill; curious; ingenious. (The foregoing senses occur frequently in our version of the scriptures, but are nearly or quite obsolete.) 3. Artful; shrewd; sly; crafty; astute; designing; 4. Deceitful; trickish; employing stratagems for a bad purpose. O does not include the underlined definitions.

16:10
*

And it came to pass that as my father arose in the morning and went forth to the tent door, and to his great astonishment he beheld upon the ground a round ball of curious workmanship,

Carefully made, elegant, artful, finished, singular

CURIOUS, adj. W: 1. Strongly desirous to see what is novel, or to discover what is unknown; solicitous to see or to know; inquisitive. 2. Habitually inquisitive; addicted to research or enquiry; as a man of a curious turn of mind; sometimes followed by after, and sometimes by of. 3. Accurate; careful not to mistake; solicitous to be correct.4. Careful; nice; solicitous in selection; difficult to please. 5. Nice; exact; subtile [sic]; made with care. 6. Artful; nicely diligent. 7. Wrought with care and art; elegant; neat; finished; 8. Requiring care and nicety; as curious arts. 10. Rare; singular. O: 1. eager to know or learn something; expressing curiosity, 2. strange; unusual. Nephi describes the Liahona as ”a round ball of curious workmanship.” Curious, in this case, would have meant made with care, wrought with care and art, neat, finished, singular or remarkable. In other words, it was a well-crafted object that they had never before witnessed.

[Page 123]7:1

And now I would that ye might know, that after my father Lehi had made an end of prophesying concerning his seed, it came to pass that the Lord spake unto him again saying that it was not meet for him Lehi that he should take his family into the wilderness alone; but that his sons should take daughters to wife that they might raise up seed unto the Lord in the land of promise.

women, female inhabitants

DAUGHTER, n. W: 1. The female offspring of a man or woman; a female child of any age. 2. A daughter in law; a son’s wife. 3. A woman; plu. female inhabitants. 4. A female descendant; lineage of females. O does not include the underlined definitions. In 1 Ne. 7:1 we are told that Lehi was instructed by the Lord that ”his sons should take daughters to wife,” without specifying whose daughters they should be. It is possible that the use of ”daughters” in this verse is the same as W’s ”female inhabitants,” or, in other words, women.

16:38
*

Now he saith that the Lord hath talked with him, and also that angels hath ministered unto him. But behold, we know that he lieth unto us. And he telleth us these things, and he worketh many things by his cunning arts that he may deceive our eyes, thinking perhaps that he may lead us away into some strange wilderness.

mislead, cheat, frustrate, rob

DECEIVE, v. W: 1. To mislead the mind; to cause to err; to cause to believe what is false, or disbelieve what is true; to impose on; to delude. 2. To beguile; to cheat. 3. To cut off from expectation; to frustrate or disappoint. 4. To take from; to rob. O does not include the underlined definitions. In Alma 20:13 the father of Lamoni says, ”Behold, [Nephi] robbed our fathers; and now his children are also come amongst us that they may, by their cunning and their lyings, deceive us, that they again may rob us of our property.” Deceive, in this usage, fits with W’s definition of to take from or to rob.

14:7

a work which shall be everlasting, either on the one hand or on the other, either to the convincing of them unto peace and life eternal or unto the deliverance of them to the hardness of their hearts and the blindness of their minds, unto their being brought down into captivity,

Definition W2 for 1 Ne 1:20; Definition W4 for 1 Ne 14:7; Definition W1 for Alma 14:26.

DELIVERANCE, n. W: 1. Release from captivity, slavery, oppression, or any restraint. 2. Rescue from danger or any evil. 4. The act of giving or transferring from one to another. 6. Acquittal of a prisoner, by the verdict of a jury. O: 1. the action of being rescued or set free. 2. a formal or authoritative utterance. W allows for a much expanded use of the word than O.

[Page 124]4:3

Now behold, ye know that this is true. And ye also know that an angel hath spoken unto you. Wherefore can ye doubt? Let us go up. The Lord is able to deliver us, even as our fathers, and to destroy Laban, even as the Egyptians.

kill (people). Also used in the heading to First Nephi where the Jews sought ”to destroy his [Lehi’s] life.”

DESTROY, v. W: 5. To kill; to slay; to extirpate; applied to men or other animals. O: Kill (a sick, savage, or unwanted animal) by humane means. Nephi, trying to encourage his brothers, said that ”the Lord is able to deliver us, even as our fathers, and to destroy Laban, even as the Egyptians.” (1 Ne 4:3) Nephi did not just mean that the Lord could defeat Laban, but kill him, ”even as [he killed] the Egyptians.”

14:3

yea, that great pit which hath been digged for the destruction of men shall be filled by those who digged it,

dug

DIGGED, v. W: pret. and pp. of dig. O: past and past participle, dug. O identifies dug as the preterit and past participle of dig rather than digged.

5:19

Wherefore he said that these plates of brass should never perish, neither should they be dimmed any more by time.

tarnished

DIM, v. W: 5. To render less bright; to tarnish or sully; as, to dim gold. O does not include the underlined definitions.

4:3

And ye also know that an angel hath spoken unto you. Wherefore can ye doubt?

fear, be apprehensive

DOUBT, v. W: 2. To fear; to be apprehensive; to suspect. O does not include these definitions.

8:4
*

But behold, Laman and Lemuel, I fear exceedingly because of you. For behold, methought I saw a dark and dreary wilderness.

gloomy and solitary

DREARY, adj. W: 1. Dismal; gloomy; as a dreary waste; dreary shades. This word implies both solitude and gloom. There is no indication of solitude in O. Dreary is only used twice in the Book of Mormon, both times to describe the conditions in which Lehi discovered himself at the beginning of the vision of the Tree of Life. Lehi said that he was in a ”dark and dreary wilderness” and a ”dark and dreary waste.” In addition to being dark (gloomy), it appears that Lehi, except for the man dressed in the white robe, was alone, or at least felt that he was alone.

[Page 125]18:18

Yea, their gray hairs were about to be brought down to lie low in the dust; yea, even they were near to be cast with sorrow into a watery grave.

grave, low condition

DUST, n. W: 1. Fine dry particles of earth or other matter, so attenuated that it may be raised and wafted by the wind; powder. 2. Fine dry particles of earth; fine earth. 3. Earth; unorganized earthy matter. 4. The grave. 5. A low condition. O does not include these definitions.

17:41

He sent fiery flying serpents among them. And after they were bitten, he prepared a way that they might be healed. And the labor which they had to perform was to look; and because of the simpleness of the way, or the easiness of it, there were many who perished.

lack of difficulty, ease, prompt compliance

EASINESS, n. W: Freedom from difficulty; ease. Easiness and difficulty are relative terms. 1. Flexibility; readiness to comply; prompt compliance; a yielding or disposition to yield without opposition or reluctance. 2. Freedom from stiffness, constraint, effort or formality; applied to manners or to the style of writing. 3. Rest; tranquillity [sic]; ease; freedom from pain. 4. Freedom from shaking or jolting. 5. Softness. O does not include the underlined definitions.

19:6

Nevertheless I do not write any thing upon plates save it be that I think it be sacred. And now if I do err, even did they err of old – not that I would excuse myself because of other men, but because of the weakness which is in me according to the flesh, I would excuse myself.

wander, deviate, stray, ramble. mistake, commit error

ERR, v. W: 1. To wander from the right way; to deviate from the true course or purpose. 2. To miss the right way, in morals or religion; to deviate from the path or line of duty; to stray by design or mistake. 3. To mistake; to commit error; to do wrong from ignorance or inattention. Men err in judgment from ignorance, from want of attention to facts, or from previous bias of mind. 4. To wander; to ramble. O does not include the underlined definitions.

17:35

Behold, the Lord esteemeth all flesh in one; he that is righteous is favored of God.

value, prize, repute, hold

ESTEEM, v. W: 1. To set a value on, whether high or low; to estimate; to value. 2. To prize; to set a high value on; to regard with reverence, respect or friendship. 3. To hold in opinion; to repute; to think. O does not include the underlined definitions.

[Page 126]10:15

And after this manner of language did my father prophesy and speak unto my brethren, and also many more things which I do not write in this book; for I have written as many of them as were expedient for me in mine other book.

suitable, practical, proper

EXPEDIENT, adj. W: 1. Literally, hastening; urging forward. Hence, tending to promote the object proposed; fit or suitable for the purpose; proper under the circumstances. Many things may be lawful, which are not expedient. 2. Useful; profitable. O: (of an action) convenient and practical, although possibly improper or immoral. (of an action) suitable or appropriate. Notice the lack of any sense of being ”improper or immoral” in W.

11:13
*

And it came to pass that I looked and beheld the great city Jerusalem and also other cities. And I beheld the city of Nazareth. And in the city of Nazareth I beheld a virgin, and she was exceeding fair and white.

beautiful, pleasing, unblemished, unspotted

FAIR, adj. W: 3. Pleasing to the eye; handsome or beautiful in general. 13. Frank; civil; pleasing; not harsh. 17. Free from stain or blemish; unspotted; untarnished. Among its many definitions, O does include beautiful and gentle as archaic meanings, but it does not include the underlined definitions from W.

2:1

For behold, it came to pass that the Lord spake unto my father, yea, even in a dream, and saith unto him: Blessed art thou Lehi because of the things which thou hast done. And because thou hast been faithful and declared unto this people the things which I commanded thee, behold, they seek to take away thy life.

firm or constant in adherence to duties, true to one’s word, conformed to the letter and spirit

FAITHFUL, adj. W: 1. Firm in adherence to the truth and to the duties of religion. 2. Firmly adhering to duty; of true fidelity; loyal; true to allegiance; as a faithful subject. 3. Constant in the performance of duties or services; exact in attending to commands. 4. Observant of compact, treaties, contracts, vows or other engagements; true to one’s word. 5. True; exact; in conformity to the letter and spirit. 6. True to the marriage covenant. 7. Conformable to truth. 8. Constant; not fickle. 9. True; worthy of belief. O does not include the underlined definitions.

[Page 127]17:15

Wherefore I Nephi did strive to keep the commandments of the Lord, and I did exhort my brethren to faithfulness and diligence.

truth, strict performance of promises, vows and covenants

FAITHFULNESS, n. W: 1. Fidelity; loyalty; firm adherence to allegiance and duty. 2. Truth; veracity. 3. Strict adherence to injunctions, and to the duties of a station. 4. Strict performance of promises, vows or covenants; constancy in affection. O does not include the underlined definitions.

17:55
*

And they fell down before me and were about to worship me, but I would not suffer them,

prostrate oneself in worship (see also 1 Nephi 8:30)

FALL, v. W: To fall down. (a) To prostrate one’s self in worship. (b) To sink; to come to the ground. (c) To bend or bow, as a suppliant. O: fall down, be shown to be inadequate or false; fail.

2:5

And he did travel in the wilderness with his family, which consisted of my mother Sariah and my elder brethren, which were Laman, Lemuel, and Sam.

household

FAMILY, n. W: 1. The collective body of persons who live in one house and under one head or manager; a household, including parents, children and servants, and as the case may be, lodgers or boarders. O does not include the underlined persons in its definition.

1:1
*

And having seen many afflictions in the course of my days, nevertheless having been highly favored of the Lord in all my days,

aided, supported, regarded kindly, spared.

FAVORED, pp. W: 1. Countenanced; supported; aided; supplied with advantages; eased; spared. 2. Regarded with kindness; as a favored friend. O: preferred or recommended. Unlike O, W does not focus on preferential treatment or feelings towards others.

[Page 128]17:17
*

And when my brethren saw that I was about to build a ship, they began to murmur against me, saying: Our brother is a fool, for he thinketh that he can build a ship. Yea, and he also thinketh that he can cross these great waters.

idiot, wicked, weak

FOOL, n. W: 1. One who is destitute of reason, or the common powers of understanding; an idiot. 3. In scripture, fool is often used for a wicked or depraved person; one who acts contrary to sound wisdom in his moral deportment; one who follows his own inclinations, who prefers trifling and temporary pleasures to the service of God and eternal happiness. 4. A weak christian; a godly person who has much remaining sin and unbelief. O does not include the underlined definitions.

2:11
*

And this they said that he had done because of the foolish imaginations of his heart.

Ridiculous, wicked, sinful.

FOOLISH, adj. W: 4. Ridiculous; despicable. 5. In scripture, wicked; sinful; acting without regard to the divine law and glory, or to one’s own eternal happiness. 6. Proceeding from depravity; sinful; as foolish lusts. Both W and O agree that FOOLISH means to be void of understanding or sound judgment, or unwise. However, O does not contain the additional definitions above.

8:30

But to be short in writing, behold, he saw other multitudes pressing forwards [forward in LDS]. And they came and caught hold of the end of the rod of iron. And they did press their way forward, continually holding fast to the rod of iron, until they came forth and fell down and partook of the fruit of the tree.

forward

FORWARD, adv. W: Forwards is also used, but it is a corruption. O does not include the underlined clarification.

[Page 129]8:1
*

And it came to pass that we had gathered together all manner of seeds of every kind, both of grain of every kind and also of the seeds of fruits [fruit in LDS] of every kind.

plants (see also 1 Nephi 18:6)

FRUIT, n. W: 1. In a general sense, whatever the earth produces for the nourishment of animals, or for clothing or profit. Among the fruits of the earth are included not only corn of all kinds, but grass, cotton, flax, grapes and all cultivated plants. In this comprehensive sense, the word is generally used in the plural. 2. In a more limited sense, the produce of a tree or other plant; the last production for the propagation or multiplication of its kind; the seed of plants, or the part that contains the seeds; as wheat, rye, oats, apples, quinces, pears, cherries, acorns, melons, &c. O: the sweet and fleshy product of a tree or other plan that contains seed and can be eaten as food. As shown above, W’s definition is much more inclusive than O’s.

10:17

I Nephi was desirous also that I might see and hear and know of these things by the power of the Holy Ghost, which is the gift of God unto all those who diligently seek him.

reward, bestowal

GIFT, n. W: 3. An offering or oblation. 4. A reward. 5. A bribe; any thing given to corrupt the judgment. O does not include these definitions.

6:1

AND now I, Nephi, do not give the genealogy of my fathers in this part of my record; neither at any time shall I give it after upon these plates which I am writing; for it is given in the record which has been kept by my father; wherefore, I do not write it in this work.

write or speak, but only in certain circumstances.

GIVE, v. W: 2. To transmit from himself to another by hand, speech or writing; to deliver. No similar definition exists in O. Nephi appears to use the words give and write interchangeably in 1 Nephi 6:1.

[Page 130]11:28

And I beheld that he went forth ministering unto the people in power and great glory,

brightness, splendor

GLORY, n. W: 1. Brightness; luster; splendor. O does not include the underlined definitions.

1:1
*

I Nephi having been born of goodly parents, therefore I was taught somewhat in all the learning of my father.

pleasant, excellent

GOODLY, adj. W: Being of a handsome form; beautiful; graceful; 2. Pleasant; agreeable; desirable; 3. Bulky; swelling; affectedly turgid. O:1 considerable in size or quantity: 2 archaic attractive, excellent, or admirable.

18:18

Yea, their gray hairs were about to be brought down to lie low in the dust; yea, even they were near to be cast with sorrow into a watery grave.

white hairs

GRAY, adj. W: 2. White; hoary; as gray hair. We apply the word to hair that is partially or wholly white. O does not include the underlined definitions.

16:2

Wherefore the guilty taketh the truth to be hard, for it cutteth them to the very center.

wicked, corrupt

GUILTY, adj. w: Criminal; having knowingly committed a crime or offense, or having violated a law by an overt act or by neglect, and by that act or neglect, being liable to punishment; not innocent. 1. Wicked; corrupt; sinful. O does not include the underlined definitions.

12:18

And a great and a terrible gulf divideth them, yea, even the sword of the justice of the Eternal God and Jesus Christ which is the Lamb of God, of whom the Holy Ghost beareth record from the beginning of the world until this time and from this time henceforth and forever.

abyss, whirlpool, insatiable whirlpool

GULF, n. W: 1. A recess in the ocean from the general line of the shore into the land, or a tract of water extending from the ocean or a sea into the land, between two points or promontories; a large bay; A gulf and a bay differ only in extent. We apply bay to a large or small recess of the sea; but gulf is applied only to a large extent of water. 2. An abyss; a deep place in the earth. 3. A whirlpool; an absorbing eddy. 4. Any thing insatiable. O does not include the underlined definitions.

[Page 131]8:10

And it came to pass that I beheld a tree whose fruit was desirable to make one happy.

prosperous, blessed

HAPPY, adj. W: 3. Prosperous; having secure possession of good. 5. Dextrous [sic]; ready; able. 6. Blessed; enjoying the presence and favor of God, in a future life. 7. Harmonious; living in concord; enjoying the pleasures of friendship. 8. Propitious; favorable. O does not include these definitions.

13:8

Behold, the gold and the silver and the silks and the scarlets and the fine-twined linen and the precious clothing and the harlots are the desires of this great and abominable church.

prostitute, idolater, rogue, cheat

HARLOT, n. W: 1. A woman who prostitutes her body for hire; a prostitute; a common woman. 2. In Scripture, one who forsakes the true God and worships idols. 3. A servant; a rogue; a cheat. O does not include the underlined definitions.

2:18

But behold, Laman and Lemuel would not hearken unto my words. And being grieved because of the hardness of their hearts, I cried unto the Lord for them.

listen, give heed, observe, obey, comply with

HEARKEN, v. W: 1. To listen; to lend the ear; to attend to what is uttered, with eagerness or curiosity. 2. To attend; to regard; to give heed to what is uttered; to observe or obey. 3. To listen; to attend; to grant or comply with. O: archaic, listen. W’s definition is much more expansive than O’s.

9:2
*

And now as I have spoken concerning these plates, behold, they are not the plates upon which I [Page 132]make a full account of the history of my people, for the plates upon which I make a full account of my people I have given the name of Nephi; wherefore they are called the plates of Nephi after mine own name.

story, narration, observations

HISTORY, n. W: [History and story are the same word differently written.] 1. An account of facts, particularly of facts respecting nations or states; a narration of events in the order in which they happened, with their causes and effects. History differs from annals. Annals relate simply the facts and events of each year, in strict chronological order, without any observations of the annalist. History regards less strictly the arrangement of events under each year, and admits the observations of the writer. This distinction however is not always regarded with strictness. 2. Narration; verbal relation of facts or events; story. The underlined definitions are not included in O.

5:13

and also the prophecies of the holy prophets from the beginning, even down to the commencement of the reign of Zedekiah,

godly, whole, perfect, pure

HOLY, adj. W: 1. Properly, whole, entire or perfect, in a moral sense. Hence, pure in heart, temper or dispositions; free from sin and sinful affections. Applied to the Supreme Being, holy signifies perfectly pure, immaculate and complete in moral character; and man is more or less holy, as his heart is more or less sanctified, or purified from evil dispositions. We call a man holy, when his heart is conformed in some degree to the image of God, and his life is regulated by the divine precepts. Hence, holy is used as nearly synonymous with good, pious, godly. O does not include the underlined definitions.

2:11

And this they said that he had done because of the foolish imaginations of his heart.

scheme (plan)

IMAGINATION, n. W: 3. Contrivance; scheme formed in the mind; device. O does not include these definitions.

1:2

Yea, I make a record in the language of my father, which consists of the learning of the Jews and the language of the Egyptians.

Israelites

JEW, n. W: a Hebrew or Israelite. O: a member of the people and cultural community whose traditional religion is Judaism and who trace their origins through the ancient Hebrew people of Israel to Abraham. It is interesting to note that W does not require that one be able to identify with Judaism as a religion, culturally or [Page 133]traditionally, in order to be a Jew. Neither W nor O require one to trace one’s origins through Judah to be a Jew. The definitions for the words Hebrew and Israelite in W only require one to be a descendant of Jacob to be considered a Jew.

3.9
*

And I Nephi and my brethren took our journey in the wilderness with our tents to go up to the land of Jerusalem.

travel

JOURNEY, n. W: 1. The travel of a day. 2. Travel by land to any distance and for any time, indefinitely. 3. Passage form one place to another. 4. It may sometimes include a passing by water. O: an act of traveling from one place to another. W’s definition is much more expansive than O’s. The underlined section may explain why Lehi took ”three days’ journey into the wilderness with his family” (1 Nephi heading).

17:22

And we know that the people which were in the land of Jerusalem were a righteous people, for they kept the statutes and the judgments of the Lord and all his commandments according to the law of Moses; wherefore we know that they are a righteous people. And our father hath judged them and hath led us away because we would hearken unto his word; yea, and our brother is like unto him.

censure rashly, pass severe sentence, doom to punishment

JUDGE, v. W: 1. To try; to examine and pass sentence on. 2. Rightly to understand and discern. 3. To censure rashly; to pass severe sentence. 4. To esteem; to think; to reckon. 5. To rule or govern. 6. To doom to punishment; to punish. O does not include the underlined definitions.

2:9

O that thou mightest be like unto this river, continually running into the fountain of all righteousness.

like, similar to

LIKE, adj. W: 2. Similar; resembling; having resemblance. Like is usually followed by to or unto, but it is often omitted. O does not include the underlined clarification in its definition.

[Page 134]13:7

And I also saw gold and silver and silks and scarlets and fine-twined linen and all manner of precious clothing, and I saw many harlots.

cloth

LINEN, n. W. 1. Cloth made of flax or hemp. O does not include hemp in its definition.

18:6

we did go down into the ship, with all our loading and our seeds and whatsoever thing we had brought with us,

cargo

LOADING, n, W: A cargo; a burden; also, any thing that makes part of a load. O does not include this definition.

17:2

And so great was the blessings of the Lord upon us that while we did live upon raw meat in the wilderness, our women did give plenty of suck for their children and were strong,

food, flesh

MEAT, n. W: 1. Food in general; any thing eaten for nourishment, either by man or beast. 2. The flesh of animals used as food. This is now the more usual sense of the word. O indicates that the use of meat for all types of food is archaic.

19:2

Wherefore the things which transpired before that I made these plates are of a truth more particularly made mention upon the first plates.

remarked, expressed

MENTION, n. W: A hint; a suggestion; a brief notice or remark expressed in words or writing; used chiefly after make. O: a reference to someone or something.

8:4

For behold, methought I saw a dark and dreary wilderness.

I thought, it appeared to me

METHINKS, v. W: It seems to me; it appears to me; I think. The word is not antiquated, but is not elegant. O indicates that the usage is archaic.

9:3
*

Nevertheless I have received a commandment of the Lord that I should make these plates for the special purpose that there should be an account engraven of the ministry of my people.

actions, operation, service

MINISTRY, n. W: 1. Agency; service; aid; interposition; instrumentality. O does not include the above definitions. W: AGENCY, 1. The quality of moving or of exerting power; the state of being in action; action; operation; instrumentality.

[Page 135]5:2

Behold, thou hast led us forth from the land of our inheritance, and my sons are no more, and we perish in the wilderness.

no longer, deceased, destroyed

MORE, n. W: No more, not continuing; existing no longer; gone; deceased or destroyed. O does not include the underlined definitions.

17:9

Lord, whither shall I go that I may find ore to molten that I may make tools to construct the ship after the manner which thou hast shewn unto me?

melt

MOLTEN, W: past participle of melt. Obsolete. MELT, v. W: The old participle molten, is used only as an adjective. W allowed molten to be used as an adjective. but not as a verb. O is in agreement.

18:3

And I Nephi did go into the mount oft, and I did pray oft unto the Lord; wherefore the Lord shewed unto me great things.

hillock, hill or mountain

MOUNT: n. W: 1. A mass of earth, or earth and rock, rising considerably above the common surface of the surrounding land. Mount is used for an eminence or elevation of earth, indefinite in highth [sic] or size, and may be a hillock, hill or mountain. 2. A mound; a bulwark for offense or defense. O: 1a mountain or hill (archaic except in place names).

1:3

And I know that the record which I make is true. And I make it with mine own hand, and I make it according to my knowledge.

my

MY, W: belonging to me; as, this is my book. Formerly, mine was used before a vowel, and my before a consonant; my is now used before both. O also indicates that the use is archaic, but does not provide the clarification found in W.

[Page 136]19:12
*

And because of the groanings of the earth, many of the kings of the isles of the sea shall be wrought upon by the Spirit of God to exclaim: The God of nature suffers.

God of creation, Creator, Author of created things

NATURE, n. W: 1. In a general sense, whatever is made or produced; a word that comprehends all the works of God; the universe. 2. By a metonymy of the effect for the cause, nature is used for the agent, creator, author, producer of things, or for the powers that produce them. By the expression, ”trees and fossils are produced by nature,” we mean, they are formed or produced by certain inherent powers in matter, or we mean that they are produced by God, the Creator, the Author of whatever is made or produced. The opinion that things are produced by inherent powers of matter, independent of a supreme intelligent author, is atheism. But generally men mean by nature thus used, the Author of created things, or the operation of his power. O does not mention the involvement or operation of God in nature, although it does mention Mother Nature and Mother Earth as synonyms (online edition).

19:7

I say trample under their feet, but I would speak in other words: they do set him at naught, and hearken not to the voice of his counsels.

disregard, despise

NAUGHT, n. W: To set at naught, to slight, to disregard or despise. O: archaic, disregard or despise.

3:18

wherefore it must needs be that he flee out of the land.

must necessarily

NEEDS, adv. W: Necessarily; indispensably; generally used with must. O agrees, but indicates that its usage is archaic.

[Page 137]6:1

AND now I, Nephi, do not give the genealogy of my fathers in this part of my record; neither at any time shall I give it after upon these plates which I am writing; for it is given in the record which has been kept by my father; wherefore, I do not write it in this work.

nor, when neither appears in the second part of a negative sentence or clause.

NEITHER, W: Neither, in the first part of a negative sentence, is followed by nor, in the subsequent part. It is neither the one nor the other. But or would be most proper, for the negative in neither, applies to both parts of the sentence. It is often used in the last member of a negative sentence instead of nor, as in the passage above cited. Ye shall not eat it , neither shall ye touch it. Here neither is improperly used for nor, for not in the first clause refers only to that clause, and the second negative refers only to the second clause. No such explanatory note appears in O. See also 1 Nephi 2:12-13 and 1 Nephi 5:19.

17:3

And if it so be that the children of men keep the commandments of God, he doth nourish them and strengthen them and provide means whereby they can accomplish the thing which he hath commanded them.

supply, feed, encourage, comfort, instruct

NOURISH, v. W: 3. To supply the means of support and increase; to encourage. 4. To cherish; to comfort. 5. To educate; to instruct; to promote growth in attainments. O does not include the underlined definitions.

15:15

Yea, at that day will they not receive the strength and nourishment from the true vine?

instruction, that which promotes growth

NOURISHMENT, n. W: 3. Instruction, or that which promotes growth in attainments. O does not include the underlined definition.

22:12

And they shall be brought out of obscurity and out of darkness, and they shall know that the Lord is their Savior and their Redeemer, the Mighty One of Israel.

darkness, state of being unknown, humble condition

OBSCURITY, n. W: 1. Darkness; want of light. 4. Illegibleness. 5. A state of being unknown to fame; humble condition. O does not include the underlined definitions.

[Page 138]3:25

And it came to pass that when Laban saw our property – that it was exceedingly great – he did lust after it, insomuch that he thrust us out and sent his servants to slay us that he might obtain our property.

keep (limited use)

OBTAIN, v. W: 2. To keep; to hold. O does not include the underlined definition.

4:31

And now I Nephi being a man large in stature, and also having received much strength of the Lord, therefore I did seize upon the servant of Laban and held him that he should not flee.

from, by means of

OF, prep. W: 1. From or out of; proceeding from, as the cause, source, means, author or agent bestowing. O does not include this definition. See also 1 Nephi 18:12. ”Prepared of the Lord,” in this verse, would be better rendered ”prepared by the Lord,” as its source or author.

13:41

Wherefore they both shall be established in one, for there is one God and one Shepherd over all the earth.

in union, in a single whole

ONE, n. W: In one, in union; in a single whole. O does not include this clarification.

8:11
*

And it came to pass that I did go forth and partook of the fruit thereof and beheld that it was most sweet, above all that I ever had before tasted.

take or have a part, share, participate

PARTAKE, v. W: 1. To take a part, portion or share in common with others; to have a share or part; to participate; usually followed by of, sometimes less properly by in. 2. To have something of the property, nature, claim or right. 3. To be admitted; not to be excluded. O: (partake in) formal, join in (an activity). (partake of) be characterized by (a quality). (partake of) eat or drink (something). W does not include eating or drinking in its definition, as does O. Rather, W defines partake as a communal act of sharing or participating with others. Partake in the Book of Mormon is always followed by “of” except in 1 Ne 8:13, which reads, ”and it was near the tree of which I was partaking the fruit.” In this case “of” precedes partake, but the meaning is the same.

[Page 139]17:46
*

And ye also know that by the power of his almighty word he can cause the earth that it shall pass away.

vanish, disappear

PASS, v. W: 3. To vanish; to disappear; to be lost. In this sense, we usually say, to pass away. O: Chiefly North American, die (used euphemistically).

4:34

Therefore if thou wilt go down into the wilderness to my father, thou shalt have place with us.

exist, be, have room, be part of the family

PLACE, n. W: To have place, to have a station, room or seat. 1. To have actual existence. O does not include these definitions.

16:38

And after that he hath led us away, he hath thought to make himself a king and a ruler over us, that he may do with us according to his will and pleasure.

approval, choice, favor, purpose, command, will, intention

PLEASURE, n. W: 3. Approbation. 4. What the will dictates or prefers; will; choice; purpose; intention; command. 5. A favor; that which pleases. 6. Arbitrary will or choice. These definitions are not included in O.

3:19

And behold, it is wisdom in God that we should obtain these records that we might preserve unto our children the language of our fathers,

keep or defend from corruption, save

PRESERVE, v. W: 1. To keep or save from injury or destruction; to defend from evil. 2. To uphold; to sustain. 5. To keep or defend from corruption; as, to preserve.

[Page 140]10:21
*

Wherefore, if ye have sought to do wickedly in the days of your probation, then ye are found unclean before the judgment-seat of God; and no unclean thing can dwell with God; wherefore, ye must be cast off forever.

trial, examination, experience through suffering, temptation

PROBATION, n. W: 1. Trial; examination; any proceeding designed to ascertain truth; in universities, the examination of a student. 3. Moral trial; the state of man in the present life, in which he has the opportunity of proving his character and being qualified for a happier state. Probation will end with the present life. 5. In general, trial for proof, or satisfactory evidence, or the time of trial. O: the release of an offender from detention, subject to a period of good behavior under supervision. The process of period of testing or observing the character or abilities of a person in a certain role, for example, a new employee. The underlined definition in O is not included in W. In all cases in W, probation is some form of trial [from try], not merely an observation of a person’s character or abilities. TRIAL, n. W: 1. Examination by a test ; experiment. 2. Experiment; act of examining by experience. 3. Experience; suffering that puts strength, patience of faith to the test; afflictions or temptations that exercise and prove the graces or virtues of men. 5. Temptation; test of virtue. 6. State of being tried.

1:1

yea, having had a great knowledge of the goodness and the mysteries of God, therefore I make a record of myproceedings in my days.

conduct, dealings

PROCEEDING, n. W: In the plural, a course of measures or conduct; course of dealings with others. O: an event or a series of activities involving a formal or set procedure.

1:4

and in that same year there came many prophets prophesying unto the people that they must repent or the [Page 141]great city Jerusalem must be destroyed.

preach, explain, exhort

PROPHESY, v. W: 1. To utter predictions; to make declaration of events to come. 2. In Scripture, to preach; to instruct in religious doctrines; to interpret or explain Scripture or religious subjects; to exhort. O: say that (a specified thing) will happen in the future.

13:37
*

Yea, whoso shall publish peace – that shall publish tidings of great joy – how beautiful upon the mountains shall they be!

proclaim, utter, circulate, read aloud

PUBLISH, v. W: 1. To discover or make known to mankind or to people in general what before was private or unknown; to divulge, as a private transaction; to promulgate or proclaim, as a law or edict. 2. To send a book into the world; or to sell or offer for sale a book, map or print. 3. To utter; to put off or into circulation. 4. To make known by posting, or by reading in a church. O does not include the underlined definitions.

13:25

Wherefore these things go forth from the Jews in purity unto the Gentiles, according to the truth which is in God.

cleanness (person), pure language (records), using proper words and phrases (records)

PURITY, n. W:1. Freedom from foreign admixture or heterogeneous matter. 2. Cleanness; freedom from foulness or dirt. 3. Freedom from guilt or the defilement of sin; innocence. 4. Chastity; freedom from contamination by illicit sexual connection. 5. Freedom from any sinister or improper views; as the purity of motives or designs. 6. Freedom from foreign idioms, from barbarous or improper words or phrases; as purity of style or language. The underlined definitions are not included in O.

18:8

And it came to pass that after we had all gone down into the ship and had taken with us our provisions and things which had been commanded us, we did put forth into the sea and were driven forth before the wind towards the promised land.

extend, send out

PUT, v. W: To put forth, to propose; to offer to notice. 1. To extend; to reach; as, to put forth the hand. 2. To shoot out; to send out, as a sprout; as, to put forth leaves. 3. To exert; to bring into action; as, to put forth strength. 4. To publish, as a book. O does not include any similar phrases for put forth. But, it does allow the use of put with ships: (of a ship or the people on it) proceed in a particular direction.

[Page 142]7:1
*

And now I would that ye might know that after my father Lehi had made an end of prophesying concerning his seed, it came to pass that the Lord spake unto him again that it was not meet for him Lehi that he should take his family into the wilderness alone, but that his sons should take daughters to wife that they might raise up seed unto the Lord in the land of promise.

rebuild, build up, lift up

RAISE, v. The definitions of raise are far too numerous in W and O to cite here, so a few examples will need to suffice. W: 1. To lift; to take up; to heave; to lift from a low or reclining posture. 4. To build; as, to raise a city, a fort, a wall, &c. 5. To rebuild. They shall raise up the former desolations. (Is. lxi.) 17. To give beginning of importance to; to elevate into reputation; as, to raise a family. 28. To cause to grow; to procure to be produced, bred or propagated; as, to raise wheat, barley, hops, &c.; to raise horses, oxen or sheep. O: 5. bring up (a child): he was born and raised in San Francisco. Breed or grow (animals or plants). Note that while O allows raise to be used with children, animals and plants, W limits its use to only animals and plants. W does allow for the phrase ”to raise a family,” meaning to raising it in importance and reputation rather than in the modern sense of to ”bring up.” Finally, W uses ”raise up” to mean rebuild. So, in 1 Ne 7:1 we could substitute rebuild for raise up, the result being that, concurrent with the destruction of Jerusalem and its people, Lehi’s family was to rebuild the people of the Lord in the land of promise.

2:16
*

And behold, he did visit me and did soften my heart that I did believe all the words which had been spoken by my father; wherefore I did not rebel against him like unto my brothers.

oppose, revolt against, renounce authority of, rise up in arms against

REBEL, v. W: 1. to revolt; to renounce the authority of the laws and government to which one owes allegiance. Subjects may rebel by an open renunciation of the authority of the government, without taking arms; but ordinarily, rebellion is accompanied by resistance in arms. 2. to rise in violent opposition against lawful authority. O: rise in opposition or armed resistance to an established government or ruler; (of a person) resist authority, [Page 143]control, or convention; show or feel repugnance for or resistance to something. O’s definition is much more inclusive than W’s, as W appears to limit the use of the term to rebellion against government or other lawful authority.

7:7
*

And it came to pass that in the which rebellion they were desirous to return unto the land of Jerusalem.

opposition, revolution, renunciation of authority, war

REBELLION, n. W: 1. An open and avowed renunciation of the authority of the government to which one owes allegiance; or the taking of arms traitorously to resist the authority of lawful government; revolt. Rebellion differs from insurrection and from mutiny. Insurrection may be a rising in opposition to a particular act or law, without a design to renounce wholly all subjection to the government. Insurrection may be, but is not necessarily, rebellion. Mutiny is an insurrection of soldiers or seamen against the authority of their officers. 2. Open resistance to lawful authority. O: an act of violent or open resistance to an established government or ruler; the action or process of resisting authority, control, or convention. See notes for REBEL.

3:3
*

For behold, Laban hath the record of the Jews and also a genealogy of my forefathers, and they are engraven upon plates of brass.

official or authentic account

RECORD, n. W: A register; an official or authentic copy of any writing, or account of any facts and proceedings, entered in a book for preservation; or the book containing such copy or account. Records are properly the registers of official transactions, made by officers appointed for the purpose, or by the officer whose proceedings are directed by law to be recorded. 2. Authentic memorial. O: a thing constituting a piece of evidence about the past, especially an account of an act or occurrence kept in writing or some other [Page 144]permanent form. The sum of the past achievements or actions of a person or organization; a person or thing’s previous conduct or performance. Of note is that W presupposes that the record contain an official or authentic account, and that it be recorded in a book.

10:5
*

And he also spake concerning the prophets, how great a number had testified of these things concerning this Messiah of which he had spoken, or this Redeemer of the world.

one who pays a debt or buys a person out of bondage or captivity.

REDEEMER, n. W: 1. One who redeems or ransoms. REDEEM W: 1. To purchase back; to ransom; to liberate or rescue from captivity or bondage, or from any obligation or liability to suffer or to be forfeited, by paying an equivalent; as, to redeem prisoners or captured goods. O: REDEEM, archaic, buy the freedom of. It is in this archaic sense that redeem and Redeemer are to be understood.

1:19

And it came to pass that the Jews did mock him because of the things which he testified of them, for he truly testified of their wickedness and their abominations. And he testified that the things which he saw and heard, and also the things which he read in the book, manifested plainly of the coming of a Messiah and also the redemption of the world.

deliverance from captivity or bondage

REDEMPTION, n. W: 1. Repurchase of captured goods or prisoners; the act of procuring the deliverance of persons or things from the possession and power of captors by the payment of an equivalent; ransom; release. 2. Deliverance from bondage, distress, or from liability to any evil or forfeiture, either by money, labor or other means. 6. In theology, the purchase of God’s favor by the death and sufferings of Christ; the ransom or deliverance of sinners from the bondage of sin and the penalties of God’s violated law by the atonement of Christ. O: 1 the action of saving or being saved from sin, error, or evil. 2 the action of regaining or gaining possession of something in exchange for payment, or clearing a debt. W’s definition is more expansive than O’s as it includes deliverance from captivity or bondage.

[Page 145]12:4

And I saw lightnings and I heard thunderings and earthquakes and all manner of tumultuous noises. And I saw the earth that it rent the rocks,

violently separate or split

REND, v. W: 1. To separate any substance into parts with force or sudden violence; to tear asunder; to split. 2. To separate or part with violence. O: Tear (something) into two or more pieces. Archaic, wrench (something) violently.

3:5

But behold, I have not required it of them, but it is a commandment of the Lord.

demand, insist, ask, request

REQUIRE, v. W: 1. To demand; to insist upon having; to claim as by right and authority; to exact; 2. To demand or exact as indispensable; to need. 3. To ask as a favor; to request. O does not include the underlined definitions.

8:5

And it came to pass that I saw a man, and he was dressed in a white robe. And he came and stood before me.

garment, clothing, attire

ROBE, n. W: 1. A kind of gown or long loose garment worn over other dress, particularly by persons in elevated stations. The robe is properly a dress of state or dignity, as of princes, judges, priests, &c. 2. A splendid female gown or garment. 3. An elegant dress; splendid attire. 4. In Scripture, the vesture of purity or righteousness, and of happiness. O: A long, loose outer garment. (often robes) A long, loose garment worn on formal or ceremonial occasions as an indication of the wearer’s office or profession. A dressing gown or bathrobe.

18:9

behold, my brethren and the sons of Ishmael and also their wives began to make themselves merry, insomuch that they began to dance and to sing and to speak with much rudeness, yea, even that they did forget by what power they had been brought thither; yea, they were lifted up [Page 146]unto exceeding rudeness.

coarseness, vulgarity, violence

RUDENESS, n. W: 1. A rough broken state; unevenness; wildness. 2. Coarseness of manners; incivility; rusticity; vulgarity. 3. Ignorance; unskillfulness. 4. Artlessness; coarseness; inelegance. 5. Violence; impetuosity. O: 1. lack of manners; discourteousness. 2. dated, roughness or simplicity.

12:2
*

And it came to pass that I beheld multitudes gathered together to battle one against the other. And I beheld wars and rumors of wars and great slaughters with the sword among my people.

story, factual report

RUMORS, n. W: 1. Flying or popular report; a current story passing from one person to another without any known authority for the truth of it. 2. Report of a fact; a story well authorized. 3. Fame; reported celebrity. O does not include the underlined definitions.

3:4

Wherefore, the Lord hath commanded me that thou and thy brothers should go unto the house of Laban and seek the records and bring them down hither into the wilderness.

search for, ask for, gain by any means possible

SEEK, v. W: 1. To go in search or quest of; to look for; to search for by going from place to place. 2. To inquire for; to ask for; to solicit; to endeavor to find or gain by any means. O does not include the underlined definition.

17:54

And it came to pass that I stretched forth my hand unto my brethren. And they did not wither before me, but the Lord did shake them, even according to the word which he had spoken.

make to tremble, throw down, remove the courage or resolution of

SHAKE, v. W: 1. To cause to move with quick vibrations; to move rapidly one way and the other; to agitate. 2. To make to totter or tremble. 3. To cause to shiver. 4. To throw down by a violent motion. 5. To throw away; to drive off. 6. To move from firmness; to weaken the stability of; to endanger; to threaten to overthrow. 7. To cause to waver or doubt; to impair the resolution of; to depress the courage of. 8. To trill. O does not include the underlined definitions.

11:22

And I answered him, saying: Yea, it is the love of God, which sheddeth itself abroad in the hearts of the children of men; wherefore it is the most desirable above all things.

scatter, diffuse

SHED, v. W: 1. To pour out; to effuse; to spill; to suffer to flow out. 2. To let fall; to cast. 3. To scatter; to emit; to throw off; to diffuse; as, flowers shed their sweets of fragrance. O does not include the underlined definitions. Interestingly, Nephi equated the Tree of Life with the love of God and said that it ”sheddeth itself abroad in the hearts of the children of men.” This reference to Tree of Life is very appropriate since trees cast [Page 147]their leaves and seeds which are then scattered by the wind.

1:15

for his soul did rejoice and his whole heart was filled because of the things which he had seen, yea, which the Lord had shewn unto him.

shown

SHOW, v. W: It is sometimes written shew, shewed, shewn, shewing. O: old-fashioned variant spelling of show.

7:4
*

And it came to pass that we went up unto the house of Ishmael, and we did gain favor in the sight of Ishmael, insomuch that we did speak unto him the words of the Lord.

eye, presence

SIGHT, n. O: dated, a person’s view or consideration. W does not include this definition. Sight in W is always related to physical sight. So, in 1 Ne 7:4, when Nephi states that ”we did gain favor in the sight of Ishmael,” he probably did not mean ”in the view (or consideration) of Ishmael.” Rather, he most probably meant ”in the presence (or physical sight) of Ishmael.”

17:45

Ye are swift to do iniquity but slow to remember the Lord your God.

late, not ready

SLOW, adj. W: 1. Moving a small distance in a long time; not swift; not quick in motion; not rapid.2. Late; not happening in short time. 3. Not ready; not prompt or quick. 4. Dull; in active; tardy. 5. Not hasty; not precipitate; acting with deliberation. O does not include the underlined definitions.

1:1

I Nephi having been born of goodly parents, therefore I was taught somewhat in all the learning of my father.

to some degree

SOMEWHAT, adv. W: In some degree or quantity. O: To a moderate extent or by a moderate amount. W does not specify to what degree, great or small, while O expresses a sense of moderation.

2:10

And he also spake unto Lemuel, saying: O that thou mightest be like unto this valley, firm and steadfast and immovable in keeping the commandments of the Lord.

spoke

SPEAK, v. W: pret. spoke, [spake, nearly obs.] At the time of W’s printing in 1828, spake was nearly obsolete.

[Page 148]9:3

Nevertheless I have received a commandment of the Lord that I should make these plates for the special purpose that there should be an account engraven of the ministry of my people.

particular, peculiar, appropriate

SPECIAL, adj. W: [This word and especial are the same.] 1. Designating a species or sort. 2. Particular; peculiar; noting something more than ordinary. 3. Appropriate; designed for a particular purpose. 4. Extraordinary; uncommon. 5. Chief in excellence. While O includes similar meanings, it places primary emphasis on being ”better, greater, or otherwise different from what is usual.”

22:6

Nevertheless, after that they have been nursed by the Gentiles, and the Lord hath lifted up his hand upon the Gentiles and set them up for a standard, and their children shall be carried in their arms and their daughters shall be carried upon their shoulders

ensign of war, staff with a flag of colors, model

STANDARD, n. W: 1. An ensign of war; a staff with a flag or colors. The troops repair to their standard. 2. That which is established by sovereign power as a rule or measure by which others are to be adjusted. 3. That which is established as a rule or model, by the authority of public opinion, or by respectable opinions, or by custom or general consent. O does not include the underlined definition.

2:16

And it came to pass that I Nephi being exceeding young, nevertheless being large in stature, and also having great desires to know of the mysteries of God, wherefore I cried unto the Lord.

physical height

STATURE, n. W: The natural highth [sic] of an animal body. It is more generally used of the human body. O: A person’s natural height. Importance or reputation gained by ability or achievement. W does not include the underlined definition. W limits the usage of this word to physical height.

17:22

And we know that the people which were in the land of Jerusalem were a righteous people, for they kept the statutes and judgments of the Lord and all his commandments according to the law of Moses;

laws, decrees

STATUTE, n. O: a written law passed by a legislative body. A rule of an organization or institution. Archaic (in biblical use) a law or decree made by a sovereign, or by God. Interestingly, W does not include laws or decrees made by God as statutes.

[Page 149]18:13

wherefore they knew not whither they should steer the ship, insomuch that there arose a great storm, yea, a great and terrible tempest, and we were driven back upon the waters for the space of three days.

violent wind, tempest

STORM, n. W: 1. A violent wind; a tempest. Thus a storm of wind, is correct language, as the proper sense of the word is rushing, violence. It has primarily no reference to a fall of rain or snow. But as a violent wind is often attended with rain or snow, the word storm has come to be used, most improperly, for a fall of rain or snow without wind. The underlined clarification is not found in O.

8:20
*

And I also beheld a straight and narrow path which came along by the rod of iron, even to the tree by which I stood.

unbending, direct, narrow

STRAIGHT, adj. W: [It is customary to write straight, for direct or right, and strait, for narrow, but this is a practice wholly arbitrary, both being the same word. Strait we use in the sense in which it is used in the south of Europe. Both senses proceed from stretching, straining.] 1. Right, in a mathematical sense; direct; passing from one point to another by the nearest course; not deviating or crooked. 2. Narrow; close; tight. [See strait, as it is generally written.] O defines STRAIGHT as ”without a curve or bend,” while it defines STRAIT as ”narrow,” but archaic. O does not allow the two words to be used interchangeably. It is apparent that what we now consider to be two separate words was not necessarily the case in the early 1800’s.

8:32

And it came to pass that many were drowned in the depths of the fountain, and many were lost from his view, wandering in strange roads

foreign, unfamiliar, odd

STRANGE, adj. W: 1. Foreign; belonging to another country. 2. Not domestic; belonging to others. 3. New; not before known, heard or seen. 4. Wonderful; causing surprise; exciting curiosity. 5. Odd; unusual; irregular; not according to the common way. 6. Remote. [Little used.] 7. Uncommon; unusual. 8. Unacquainted. O hints at the underlined meanings, but only remotely.

[Page 150]18:17

And my parents being stricken in years and having suffered much grief because of their children, they were brought down, yea, even upon their sick beds.

advanced, far gone

STRICKEN, pp. W: 1. Struck; smitten. 2. Advanced; worn; far gone. O does not include the underlined definitions.

13:29

and because of these things which are taken away out of the gospel of the Lamb, an exceeding great many do stumble, yea, insomuch that Satan hath great power over them.

trip, err, fall, slide into error

STUMBLE, v. W: 1. To trip in walking or moving in any way upon the legs; to strike the foot so as to fall, or to endanger a fall. 2. To err; to slide into a crime or an error. 3. To strike upon without design; to fall on; to light on by chance. O does not include the underlined definitions.

14:1

And it shall come to pass that if the Gentiles shall hearken unto the Lamb of God in that day, that he shall manifest himself unto them in word and also in power, in very deed, unto the taking away of their stumbling blocks,

any cause of stumbling, that which causes to err

STUMBLING BLOCK, n. W: Any cause of stumbling; that which causes to err. O: a circumstance that causes difficulty or hesitation.

17:2

And so great were the blessings of the Lord upon us that while we did live upon raw meat in the wilderness, our women did give plenty of suck for their children and were strong, yea, even like unto the men.

breast milk

SUCK, n. W: The act of drawing with the mouth. 1. Milk drawn from the breast by the mouth. O does not include the underlined definition.

15:27

And I said unto them that the water which my father saw was filthiness. And so much was his mind swallowed up in other things that he beheld not the filthiness of the water.

engulf, absorb, occupy, employ, engage completely

SWALLOW, v. W: 1. To take into the stomach; to receive through the gullet or esophagus into the stomach. 2. To absorb; to draw and sink into an abyss or gulf. To ingulf [sic]; usually followed by up. 4. To engross; to appropriate. 5. To occupy; to employ. 6. To seize and waste. 7. To engross; to engage [Page 151]completely. 8. To exhaust; to consume. O does not include the underlined definitions.

17:45

Ye are swift to do iniquity but slow to remember the Lord your God.

quick, prompt, ready

SWIFT, adj. W: 1. Moving a great distance or over a large space in a short time; moving with celerity or velocity; fleet; rapid; quick; speedy. Swift is applicable to any kind of motion. 2. Ready; prompt. O does not include the underlined definition.

18:15

Wherefore they came unto me and loosed the bands which was upon my wrists, and behold, they had swollen exceedingly; and also mine ankles were much swollen, and great was the soreness thereof..

swelled

SWOLLEN, W: past participle of swell; irregular and obsolescent. The regular participle, swelled, is to be preferred. O: past participle of swell.

17:25

Now ye know that the children of Israel were in bondage, and ye know that they were laden with tasks which were grievious to be borne.

burdens or labor imposed by another

TASK, n. W: 1. Business imposed by another, often a definite quantity or amount of labor. 2. Business; employment. 3. Burdensome employment. O does not include the underlined definition.

[Page 152]18:13

wherefore they knew not whither they should steer the ship, insomuch that there arose a great storm, yea, a great and terrible tempest, and we were driven back upon the waters for the space of three days.

violent storm, hurricane, cyclone, typhoon

TEMPEST, n. W: 1. An extensive current of wind, rushing with great velocity and violence; a storm of extreme violence. We usually apply the word to a steady wind of long continuance; but we say also of a tornado, it blew a tempest The currents of wind are named, according to their respective degrees of force or rapidity, a breeze, a gale, a storm, a tempest; but gale is also used as synonymous with storm, and storm with tempest. Gust is usually applied to a sudden blast of short duration. A tempest may or may not be attended with rain, snow or hail. O does not disagree with W. This word was included because of W’s expressively descriptive definition.

10:19

For he that diligently seeketh shall find, and the mysteries of God shall be unfolded to them by the power of the Holy Ghost as well in this time as in times of old, and as well in times of old as in times to come; wherefore the course of the Lord is one eternal round.

who (when referring to people)

THAT, W: 3. That is used as the representative of a noun, either a person or a thing. In this use, it is often a pronoun and a relative. When it refers to persons, it is equivalent to who, and when it refers to a thing, it is equivalent to which. O: It is sometimes argued that, in relative clauses, that should be used for nonhuman references and who should be used for human references: a house that overlooks the park, but the woman who lives next door. In practice, while it is true to say that who is restricted to human references, the function of that is flexible. It has been used for both human and nonhuman references since at least the 11th century. In standard English, it is interchangeable with who in this context. W and O agree that the words who and that are interchangeable with each other when referring to a person, although O does concede that there are those who disagree with this position.

[Page 153]18:17

Now my father Lehi had said many things unto them and also unto the sons of Ishmael, but behold, they did breathe out much threatenings against anyone that should speak for me.

declarations to inflict evil

THREATENING, n. W: The act of menacing; a menace; a denunciation of evil, or declaration of a purpose to inflict evil on a person or country, usually for sins and offenses. O does not allow the use of this word as a noun (see threat).

13:37

Yea, whoso shall publish peace – that shall publish tidings of great joy – how beautiful upon the mountains shall they be!

news, advice

TIDINGS, n. W: News; advice; information; intelligence; account of what has taken place, and was not before known. O does not include the underlined definition.

18:1
*

And it came to pass that they did worship the Lord and did go forth with me, and we did work timbers of curious workmanship. And the Lord did show me from time to time after what manner I should work the timbers of the ship.

ribs, curving pieces of wood

TIMBER, n. W: 1. That sort of wood which is proper for building or for tools, utensils, furniture, carriages, fences, ships and the like. 5. In ships, a timber is a rib or curving piece of wood, branching outward from the keel in a vertical direction. One timber is composed of several pieces united in one frame. O: (usually timbers) a wooden beam or board used in building a house, ship, or other structure. When Nephi states that ”we did work timbers of curious workmanship,” he is most likely referring to the ribs of the ship that branched upward from the keel, and not just to wood in general.

[Page 154]17:48

And as they came forth to lay their hands upon me, I spake unto them, saying: In the name of the Almighty God I command you that ye touch me not, for I am filled with the power of God, even unto the consuming of my flesh. And whoso shall lay their hands upon me shall wither even as a dried reed, and he shall be as naught before the power of God, for God shall smite him.

hit, strike, try, afflict, distress

TOUCH, v. W: 1. To come in contact with; to hit or strike against. 2. To perceive by the sense of feeling. 3. To come to; to reach; to attain to. 4. To try. 5. To relate to; to concern. [This sense is now nearly obsolete.] 6. To handle slightly. 7. To meddle with. 8. To affect. 9. To move; to soften; to melt. 10. To mark or delineate slightly. 11. To infect. [Little used.] 12. To make an impression on. 13. To strike, as an instrument of music; to play on. 14. To influence by impulse; to impel forcibly. 15. To treat slightly. 16. To afflict or distress. O does not include the underlined definitions.

19:7

For the things which some men esteem to be of great worth, both to the body and soul, others set at naught and trample under their feet, yea, even the very God of Israel do men trample under their feet. I say, trample under their feet, but I would speak in other words: they set him at naught and hearken not to the voice of his counsels.

treat with pride, contempt, triumph, scorn or insult

TRAMPLE, v. W: 1. To tread under foot; especially, to tread upon with pride, contempt, triumph or scorn. 2. To tread down; to prostrate by treading; as, to trample grass. 3. To treat with pride, contempt and insult. O: 1. tread on and crush. 1.1 (trample on/over) treat with contempt.

[Page 155]2:5

And he came down by the borders near the shore of the Red Sea, and he traveled in the wilderness in the borders which was nearer the Red Sea. And he did travel in the wilderness with his family, which consisted of my mother Sariah and my elder brethren, which were Laman, Lemuel, and Sam.

walk or journey with toil

TRAVEL, v. W: 1. To walk; to go or march on foot; So we say, a man ordinarily travels three miles an hour. [This is the proper sense of the word, which implies toil.] 2. To journey; to ride to a distant place in the same country; 3. To go to a distant country, or to visit foreign states or kingdoms, either by sea or land. 4. To pass; to go; to move. 5. To labor. [See Travail – to labor with pain; to toil.] 6. To move, walk or pass, as a beast, a horse, ox or camel. A horse travels fifty miles in a day; a camel; twenty. The underlined definitions are not included in O.

19:13

And as for they which are at Jerusalem, saith the prophet, they shall be scourged by all people, saith the prophet, because they crucified the God of Israel and turned their hearts aside, rejecting signs and wonders and the power and glory of the God of Israel.

avert, turn away

TURN, v. W: To turn aside, to avert. This definition is not included in O.

16:39

And after they were chastened by the voice of the Lord, they did turn away their anger and did repent of their sins, insomuch that the Lord did bless us again with food that we did not perish.

avert, turn from, discard

TURN, v. W: To turn away, to dismiss from service; to discard; as, to turn away a servant. 1. To avert; as, to turn away wrath or evil. O: turn someone away: refuse to allow someone to enter or pass through a place. The underlined definition is not included in O.

4:20

And after I had done this, I went forth unto the treasury of Laban.

to

UNTO, prep. W: a compound of un, [on,] and to; of no use in the language, as it expresses no more than to. I do not find it in our mother tongue, nor is it ever used in popular discourse. It is found in writers of former times, but is entirely obsolete.

[Page 156]12:5
*

And it came to pass after I saw these things, I saw the vapor of darkness, that it passed from off the face of the earth.

smoke, fog, cloud

VAPOR, n. W: 1. In a general sense, an invisible elastic fluid, rendered aeriform by heat, and capable of being condensed, or brought back to the liquid or solid state, by cold. The vapor of water is distinguished by the name of steam, which see. 2. A visible fluid floating in the atmosphere. All substances which impair the transparency of the atmosphere, as smoke, fog, etc. are in common language called vapors, though the term vapor is technically applied only to an invisible and condensible [sic] substance, as in No. 1; fog, etc. being vapor condensed, or water in a minute state of division. vapor rising into the higher regions of the atmosphere, and condensed in large volumes, forms clouds. 3. Substances resembling smoke, which sometimes fill the atmosphere, particularly in America during the autumn. O does not include the underlined clarification.

14:1

And it shall come to pass that if the Gentiles shall hearken unto the Lamb of God in that day, that he shall manifest himself unto them in word and also in power, in very deed, unto the taking away of their stumbling blocks,

true, real

VERY, adj. W: True; real. O: archaic, real; genuine.

[Page 157]2:11
*

Now this he spake because of the stiffneckedness of Laman and Lemuel. For behold, they did murmur in many things against their father because that he was a visionary man and that he had led them out of the land of Jerusalem, to leave the land of their inheritance and their gold and their silver and their precious things, to perish in the wilderness. And this they said that he had done because of the foolish imaginations of his heart.

imaginative, impracticable, foolhardy, quixotic

VISIONARY, adj. W: 1. Affected by phantoms; disposed to receive impressions on the imagination. 2. Imaginary; existing in imagination only; not real; having no solid foundation; as a visionary prospect; a visionary scheme or project. O: 1 (especially of a person) thinking about or planning the future with imagination or wisdom. Archaic (of a scheme or idea) not practical. 2 of, relating to, or able to see visions in a dream or trance, or as a supernatural apparition. Archaic, existing only in a vision or in the imagination. While O allows for this word to be used in positive or flattering ways, W does not. In fact, as a noun W includes the following two definitions of visionary: 1. One whose imagination is disturbed. 2. One who forms impracticable schemes; one who is confident of success in a project which others perceive to be idle and fanciful.

17:1

And we did travel and wade through much affliction in the wilderness, and our women bare children in the wilderness.

move or pass with difficulty or labor

WADE, v. W: 1. To walk through any substance that yields to the feet. 2. To move or pass with difficulty or labor. O does not include the underlined definition. For wade through, O includes ”read laboriously through (a long piece of writing).”

19:6
*

And now if I do err, even did they err of old – not that I would excuse myself because of other men, but because of the weakness which is in me according to the flesh, I would excuse myself.

want of physical strength or steadiness. Not a defect, failing or fault since the word is never found in the plural in the Book of Mormon.

WEAKNESS, n. W: 1. Want of physical strength; want of force or vigor; feebleness. 2. Want of sprightliness. 3. Want of steadiness. 4. Infirmity; unhealthiness. 5. Want of moral force or effect upon the mind; as the weakness of evidence; the weakness of arguments. 6. Want of judgment; feebleness of mind; foolishness. 7. Defect; failing; fault; with a plural. O: 1 the state or condition of lacking strength. 1.1 [Page 158]a quality or feature regarded as a disadvantage or fault. 1.2 a person or thing that one is unable to resist or likes excessively. 1.3 [In singular] (weakness for) a self-indulgent liking for.

16:11

And it came to pass that we did gather together whatsoever things we should carry into the wilderness and all the remainder of our provisions which the Lord had given unto us.

whatever

WHATSOEVER, W: a compound of what, so, and ever, has the sense of whatever, and is less used than the latter. Indeed it is nearly obsolete. Whatso, in a like sense, is entirely obsolete. O indicates that the usage is archaic.

5:20

And it came to pass that thus far I and my father had kept the commandments wherewith the Lord had commanded us.

with which

WHEREWITH, adv. W: 1. With which. 2. With what, interrogatively. O indicates that the usage is archaic.

2:5

And he came down by the borders near the shore of the Red Sea, and he traveled in the wilderness in the borders which are nearer the Red Sea. and he did travel in the wilderness with his family, which consisted of my mother Sariah and my elder brethren, which were Laman, Lemuel, and Sam.

who (when referring to people)

WHICH, W: It does not in modern usage represent a person. O does not express an opinion on this. LDS has corrected most of the improper occurrences of which, but some still remain. For example, ”save it be those which are carried away captive into Babylon” (2 Ne 25:10), and ”they are restored to that God who gave them breath, which is the Holy One of Israel” (2 Ne 9:26).

5:5

But behold, I have obtained a land of promise, in the which things I do rejoice.

which

WHICH, W: The which, by the which. The use of the before which, is obsolete.

8:11

Yea, and I beheld that the fruit thereof was white to exceed all the whiteness that I had ever seen.

pure, clean, sanctified

WHITE, adj. W: 3. Having the color of purity; pure; clean; free from spot; as white robed innocence. 4. Gray; as white hair; a venerable man, white with age. 5. Pure; unblemished. 6. In a scriptural sense, purified [Page 159]from sin; sanctified. O does not include these definitions.

13:37

Yea, whoso shall publish peace – that shall publish tidings of great joy – how beautiful upon the mountains shall they be!

whoever or whomever

WHOSO, n. W: Any person whatever. O: Archaic term for whoever.

13:11

And it came to pass that the angel saith unto me: Behold, the wrath of God is upon the seed of thy brethren.

just punishment, violent anger, vehement exasperation

WRATH, n. W: 1. Violent anger; vehement exasperation; indignation. 2. The effects of anger. 3. The just punishment of an offense or crime. O: Extreme anger (chiefly used for humorous or rhetorical effect).

4:4

Now when I had spoken these words, they was yet wroth and did still continue to murmur.

very angry

WROTH, adj. W: Very angry; much exasperated. [An excellent word and not obsolete.] O: archaic, angry.

13:13

And it came to pass that I beheld the Spirit of God, that it wrought upon other Gentiles, and they went forth out of captivity, upon the many waters.

influenced, prevailed upon

WROUGHT, v. W: Wrought on or upon, influenced; prevailed on. O only indicates that wrought is the archaic preterit and past participle of work.

1. Charles Dickens, A Christmas Carol. In Prose. Being a Ghost Story of Christmas (London: Bradbury and Evans,1858), 57; http://books.google.com/books?id=f8ANAAAAQAAJ.

2. Heather Sheire, “English Plum Pudding aka Christmas Pudding aka Cake,” Livin’ the Pie Life, December 11, 2010, http://www.livinthepielife.com/2010/12/english-plum-pudding-aka-christmas-pudding-aka-cake/. Also see “Plum Pudding,” at Dickens and Christmas, http://charlesdickenspage.com/christmas.html; and Alicia, “Read//Eat: Plum Pudding From ‘The Christmas Carol,’” Yes and Yes: Because Yes is More Fun than No, December 5, 2013, http://www.yesandyes.org/2013/12/recipe-plum-pudding-a-christmas-carol.html.

3. Noah Webster, American Dictionary of the English Language, Noah Webster 1828, Original Facimile Edition (San Francisco: Foundation for American Christian Education, 2010), s.v. “plum.” Webster did not paginate this text, but the volume and signature numbers are printed at the bottom of every fourth leaf.

4. Webster, s.v. “quartern.”

5. New Oxford American Dictionary, 3rd ed. (New York: Oxford University Press, 2010), 1429, s.v. “quartern.”

6. Oxford, 147, s.v. “bedight.”

7. Webster, s.v. “bedight.”

8. “About Us,” Merriam-Webster Online, http://www.merriam-webster.com/info/noah.htm.

9. Webster, original title page.

10. Joseph Smith Jr., History of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. 6 vols. (Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Company, 1948), 1:20; https://byustudies.byu.edu/ hc/hcpgs/hc.aspx.

11. Oliver Cowdery to Cornelius Blatchly, November 9, 1829, Gospel Luminary 2/49 (December 10, 1829): 194. Transcribed in Robin, “1829 Mormon Discovery Brought to you by … Guest Erin Jennings,” The Juvenile Instructor, August 21, 2012, http://www.juvenileinstructor.org/1829-mormon-discovery-brought-to-you- by-guest-erin-jennings.

12. Samuel Johnson, A Dictionary of the English Language: In which the words are deduced from the originals, and illustrated in their different significations by examples from the best writers, (London: W. Strahan, 1755), 186, s.v. “author,” example sentences (between definitions) silently removed. Online at: http://johnsonsdictionaryonline.com/?page_id=7070&i=186.

13. John Walker, A Critical Pronouncing Dictionary and Expositor of the English Language, 2nd ed., (London: G.G. and J. Robinson, 1797), s.v. “author.” Online at: http://books.google.com/books?id=DnwCAAAAQAAJ.

14. John Walker, A Critical Pronouncing Dictionary and Expositor of the English Language, (New York: Collins and Hannay, 1825), s.v. “author.” Online at: http://books.google.com/books?id=QSMLQWoIXJEC.

15. Webster, s.v. “author.”

16. Oxford, 240, s.v., “by.”

17. Webster, s.v., “by.”

18. Webster, s.v., “fall.”

19. Oxford, 623, s.v., “fall.”

20. Oxford, 747, s.v., “goodly.”

21. Oxford, 747, s.v., “goodly.”

22. Webster, s.v., “goodly,” examples omitted.

23. Webster, s.v. “raise.” Definition 17 uses the phrase “to raise a family.” Definition 28 identifies the usage of the word with plants and animals. Webster includes that the word raise “in New England is never applied to the breeding of the human race, as it is in the southern states.”

24. Oxford, 1442, s.v. “raise.”

25. Webster, s.v. “raise,” definition 5.

26. Oxford, 1277, s.v., “partake.”

27. Webster, s.v. “partake,” definition 1.

28. Oxford, 674, s.v. “foolish.”

29. Oxford, 868, s.v., “imagination.”

30. Webster, s.v. “imagination,” definition 3.

31. Webster, s.v. “contrivance,” definition 3.

32. Oxford, 1933, s.v. “visionary.”

33. Oxford, 1933, s.v. “visionary.”

34. Oxford, 1933, s.v. “visionary.”

35. Webster, s.v. “visionary.”

36. Webster, s.v. “at.”

37. Oxford, 100, s.v. “at.”

38. Daniel C. Peterson, “A Scholar Looks at the Evidences of the Book of Mormon,” (Provo, Utah: FARMS, 1995), 14–16. Online as “Evidences of the Book of Mormon,” http://publications.maxwellinstitute.byu.edu/fullscreen/?pub=925.

39. Stephen H. Webb, “Mormonism Obsessed with Christ,” First Things (online), February 2012, http://www.firstthings.com/article/2012/01/mormonism-obsessed-with-christ.

40. Oxford, 422, s.v. “cunning.”

41. Webster, s.v. “cunning.”

42. Webster, s.v. “cunning.”

43. Oxford, 89, s.v. “art.”

44. Webster, s.v. “art.”

45. Webster, s.v. “wroth.”

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About Loren Blake Spendlove

Loren Spendlove (MBA, California State University, Fullerton and PhD, University of Wyoming) has worked in many fields over the last thirty years, including academics and corporate financial management. Currently, he and his wife design and manufacture consumer goods. A student of languages, his research interests center on linguistics and etymology.

6 thoughts on “Understanding Nephi with the Help of Noah Webster

  1. Thank you for this article. It shows that we must be careful in thinking we know what a word means. I believe presentism could be used for word usage as well as present-day attitudes, especially the tendency to interpret past events in terms of modern values and concepts.

    But what I do find very interesting.. it the words that are in the Book of Mormon.. that were NOT in the Webster 1828 Dictionary.

    Here is a at statement in the Book of Mormon.. Ether 9:19

    And they also had horses, and asses,
    and there were elephants and cureloms and cumoms;
    all of which were useful unto man,
    and more especially the elephants and cureloms and cumoms.

    Now we of course don’t know what a curelom and cumom is.. right? Yet.. we could guess. Just by seeing the grouping of the words.

    Here Moroni tells us about the animals that man used. And based on this list.. we can see that this list contains working animals. Horses, asses and elephants are pack animals.. and have been used by man to carry our stuff. So the curelom and cumom would also be a pack animal if we look at the grouping of the words.

    But.. Now Moroni does something wonderful.. he groups three of them together.. and gives them “additional” value.. “and more especially the elephants and cureloms and cumoms.”

    If we start thinking about old world type pack animals.. we can see where camels are used as such. And now looking at new world animals.. what kind of animals on this side of the world.. the South, Central, and North American continents.. what kind of animals are used as pack animals.. where their grouping with an elephant would be significant? I can think of two animals that would easily fit that group. The Llama and Alpaca.

    Now.. if indeed the Llama and Alpaca are the curelom and cumom.. why did Joseph not just write the words Llama and Alpaca? This is were it gets interesting.

    So.. lets turn to our trusty 1828 Websters dictionary and look up both of these words.

    They are not there!

    In 1828… there was no English word for Llama and Alpaca.

  2. MrNirom

    Thanks for your post. Your comments about llamas and alpacas is interesting, but not quite correct. Those words are in the 1828 dictionary, just spelled differently. Webster spelled llama with only one l – lama. He defined it as “a small species of camel, the camelus lama of South America.” He spelled alpaca as alpagna – “an animal of Peru, used as a beast of burden; the Cameuls Paco of Linne, and the Pacos of Pennant. Dict. of Nat. Hist.” But, this does not mean that cureloms and cumoms could not have been llamas and alpacas.

    We still do not have original English words for those two animals. We use the Spanish words for them.

  3. I too appreciate the article. I often look up words in the 1828 Webster’s Dictionary to try to understand what is meant. But, sometimes I wonder how Joseph Smith defined words. Definitions in that dictionary make a case and differences between then and now make for very interesting comparisons.

    For example, the meaning of “neck” or “neck of land” in the 1828 Webster’s doesn’t fit isthmus connecting two large land masses as we often interpret the three Book of Mormon verses about the “small neck of land” or “narrow neck of land.” The 1828 Webster’s has a definition of “neck” as “A long narrow tract of land projecting from the main body, or a narrow tract connecting two larger tracts; as the neck of land between Boston and Roxbury.” The first clearly doesn’t match an isthmus, the second definition connects a relative small land mass around Boston to the mainland. “Isthmus” in the 1828 Webster’s is defined as “A neck or narrow slip of land by which two continents are connected, or by which a peninsula is united to the mainland. Such is the Neck, so called,which connects Boston with the main land at Roxbury. But the word is applied to land of considerable extent, between seas; as the isthmus of Darien, which connects North and South America, and the isthmus between the Euxine and Caspian seas.” But, how did Joseph Smith interpret the terms?

  4. Mike

    Thanks for your comment. As you cited, Webster’s definition #2 for neck, gives two separate but related meanings. Webster then gave an example of the neck between Boston and Roxbury. Not being very familiar with that area, I looked at Google Earth and could see that Roxbury is on the mainland while Boston is at the end of the “neck.” Definitionally, this example seems to fit his first meaning the best – a long narrow tract of land projecting from the main body. I agree that this meaning would not work for the narrow neck of land in the Book of Mormon.

    But, I do believe that the second meaning – a narrow tract connecting two larger tracts – does fit with the isthmus of Tehuantepec theory. “Narrow” and “larger” as used in the definition are relative terms of course.

    • Loren, I appreciate your response.

      I find it very unlikely that the explanatory phrase in the 1828 Webster 2nd definition of “neck” was to elucidate the first definitional phrase. I think it has to refer back to the second. The first doesn’t need an explanation. Also, the definition of Isthmus which is about connecting continents refers to the same Boston-Roxbury neck (indicating Webster saw two tracts of land connected by the neck in this case), but then stated that the difference between isthmus and neck is in scale.

      The three versus in the Book of Mormon modify neck with either small or narrow, highlighting the possibility that this feature is on the smaller end of the definition as described in Webster 1828.

      None of the three references state that people transited the neck either across its length or breadth; however many of us (myself included) have projected such movements on the text. It can be read so, but doesn’t have to, in my opinion.

      I find myself teetering between the believing that the word means what Webster 1828 says, making most interpretations of the narrow neck of land problematic, or the translation really referred to “isthmus” but that word wasn’t in as much common use as Webster might imply.

      While I remain convinced that looking at Webster 1828 provides insight into usage at the time, I am not convinced that it proves the meaning intended in the translation of the Book of Mormon into English in every case.

      I can’t help wondering if the reference is to an isthmus between two large land masses or a reference to landmark clearly seen on a coastal road marking a major cultural transition. That might explain the narrow neck reference in Alma 63, as the place where Hagoth built his ships, such a neck extending out into the ocean could provide the harbor required for his action.

  5. Very interesting article. I found many of the nuances helpful–and I footnoted your commentary on the Liahona!
    FYI, if you want to find Charles Dicken’s reason for picking the name Ebenezer you’ll have to look in a Hebrew dictionary:)

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