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Merriam-Webster's Collegiate Dictionary
ISBN 0877797072 / 9780877797074 / 0-87779-707-2
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The 1998 10th edition of Merriam-Webster's Collegiate Dictionary marks the 100th anniversary of this distinguished and popular reference standard, and this is more than just an interesting statistic--it means that Merriam-Webster brings years of experience and reams of citation files to the creation of this latest edition. Improving on their last dictionary, they've added more than 100 pictorial illustrations and supplemented the synonym paragraphs with examples. Along with the English dictionary, which forms the heart of the reference, the editors at Merriam-Webster have included a brief introduction to the English language and a history of the English dictionary, a guide to pronunciation, and a series of appendices that include chemical element abbreviations and symbols, foreign words and phrases, extensive sections with biographical and geographical names, signs and symbols, and a handbook of style.
But getting back to the book itself--it's impressively comprehensive for a collegiate dictionary, with more than 215,000 definitions. Each item includes a pithy wealth of information, with first usage date, etymology, and pronunciation, and clear, precise definitions. In addition, there are often usage notes, synonym cross-references, illustrative quotations, variant spellings and pronunciations, regional labels, and information on capitalization, function, and inflections. Then there are the extra touches. Under bible, for example, there's a chart detailing books of the Old Testament, Jewish Scripture, Protestant apocrypha, and books of the New Testament. Under months is a table listing the months of the principal calendars--Gregorian, Jewish, and Islamic. And wonderful line drawings illustrate terms such as mackerel, lyrebird, hedgehog, and the ancient Celtic stringed instrument known as a crowd. All this makes it a valuable reference--detailed enough for editors and writers, accessible enough for students and casual definition seekers, updated with the new vocabulary of technology, and rigorous enough for the linguistic perfectionists. --Stephanie Gold [via]