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Skeat, Walter William

Walter William Skeat, 1835–1912, English scholar and philologist. Skeat took holy orders in 1860, but illness cut short his church career. At Cambridge he served as a lecturer in mathematics (1864–71), began the study of Old English, and was professor of Anglo-Saxon (1878–1912). In 1873 he founded the English Dialect Society, which brought about the English Dialect Dictionary, edited by Joseph Wright (1896–1905). Skeat was the author of a number of textbooks, contributed freely to learned journals, and led the way in the study of English place names. Among the many works he edited are Lancelot of the Laik (1865), Piers Plowman (1867–85), John Barbour's The Bruce (4 parts, 1870–89), Ælfric's Lives of Saints (2 parts, 1881–1900), and a seven-volume edition of Chaucer (1894–97). His important work, An Etymological Dictionary of the English Language (1882), was a standard reference for many years.

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