Webster had no help with his dictionary, and ultimately defined more than 70,000 words. In order to understand the roots from which words blossomed, he acquired a working knowledge of at least 20 languages, including Sanskrit...Ferreting out 20,000 more words for inclusion in his masterwork was a daunting task. Webster’s passion for investigating the origins of words slowed the process even more.
Webster was a born-again Christian who often displayed his deep religious convictions not on his sleeve, but in his definitions of words. For example, in showing how the word "fear" might be used in a sentence, he wrote, "We have reason to fear the punishment of our sins."
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