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The Concise Oxford Dictionary
ISBN 019860436X / 9780198604365 / 0-19-860436-X
Publisher Oxford University Press
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Anyone looking for a concise dictionary of English is currently faced with a difficult choice, since 2001 has seen the publication of new editions of three major works; the Concise Oxford Dictionary the Collins Concise Dictionary and the Encarta Concise Dictionary. All cover the same core material and at first sight seem much the same, giving definitions that place the most common sense first, guidance on such things as how formal or informal a word is and information on the origin of a word and when it first came into the language. However, a closer look at the text shows that they all have different strengths.
The Concise Oxford is the most grown up of the three. It saves space for other things by not giving pronunciation guidance for standard English vocabulary (such as "cheese") but only for words that might be difficult ("cheetah", "Chekhovian"). Instead it gives extra information on phrases, so that the reader does not have to search through "hard" for "hard cheese" is under "cheese". There is no major encyclopaedic element, although "Chekhovian" will give you the basic information on Chekhov, and there is an appendix giving information on countries of the world, as well as others on proof marks, weights and measures, different alphabets, abbreviations used in texting and an extensive guide to good English. This is the only one of the three to give good coverage of obsolete words, and is particularly strong on science and foreign words used in English. --Julia Cresswell [via]