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The American Heritage College Dictionary
ISBN 0395671612 / 9780395671610 / 0-395-67161-2
Publisher Houghton Mifflin
List price $25.00
Despite the word "college" in the title, The American Heritage College Dictionary is the best choice for anyone who's looking for a substantive desk dictionary but isn't quite ready to commit to the space an unabridged takes. With more than 200,000 definitions and biographical and geographical notes, along with crisp photos, drawings, and diagrams in every margin, The American Heritage College Dictionary packs a lot into its 1664 pages. Under "lock," for example, you'll find both a diagram explaining how your key fits into and opens one, as well as a photo of boats passing through a river lock in Heidelberg, Germany. The actual definition section for "lock" shows 5 uses as a noun and 14 as a verb, followed by the idioms "lock horns" and "lock, stock, and barrel," and an etymological note that the word comes from the Old English loc, meaning "bolt or bar." As with all of the American Heritage dictionaries, The American Heritage College Dictionary boasts clear typography, clean design, and terrific usage notes based on the opinions of its 173-member usage panel, a group of noted North American writers and scholars, including Daniel Boorstin, June Jordan, Calvin Trillin, and Eudora Welty. These usage notes (for example, "brunette" seldom refers to men, because "-ette" is too closely associated with the feminine gender), along with regional notes (in the Northern U.S., a "bubbler" is a drinking fountain) and word histories, are a valuable addition to the standard definitions and synonyms one would expect from a college dictionary, and they are what make The American Heritage College Dictionary stand out from the crowd. --Rebecca A. Staffel [via]