Joined: 22 Mar 2007
|Posted: Mon Oct 08, 2012 1:59 pm Post subject: My favorite dictionaries
|After citing the OAD in a post, I decided to give a more complete description of the dictionaries I use most often.
The New Oxford American Dictionary from Oxford University Press (my copy is a 2001 edition 8.5"x11" hardback with 2062 pages). Usually the first one I check for current language, this has very good usage notes and shows many British / American differences.
The Compact Edition of the Oxford English Dictionary from Oxford University Press (my copy is a 1971 edition with 4116 pages each showing 4 page images, plus a 1987 supplement with 1412 four-page pages). This is the one I check for obscure or obsolete words or historical usage.
My routine alternate to the OAD is The Random House Dictionary of the English Language (The Unabridged Edition) from Random House (my copy is a 1967 edition 9.5"x12" hardback with 2092 pages).
For pronunciations: The Oxford Dictionary of Pronunciation for Current English from Oxford University Press has no definitions, but gives British and American pronunciations for many words. My 2001 edition is missing a complete legend for the phonetic symbols used, so I worked up my own legend page I could use with it.
For name questions, I usually start with A Dictionary of First Names and A Dictionary of Surnames, both by Hanks & Hodges and from Oxford University Press.
I also routinely use a couple of the dozen dictionaries in my Sony Reader, keeping the default set to a smaller version of the OAD. Tapping words on the Reader screen is enough of a habit that I sometimes find myself reaching toward pages in printed books as if to tap on unfamiliar words.
For years, the family had a large Unabridged Webster's, but it was lost in a fire several years ago. I recall it as about twice the size of the OAD or RH.
I have had CDs of several large dictionaries over the years, but due to copy protection schemes or other issues, none have kept working through years of computer and OS upgrades. The search features in some were quite nice, but I didn't like the upgrade expenses (or the complete unavailability of some upgrades).