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The American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language, Fifth Edition Hardcover – November 1, 2011

ISBN-13: 004-6442006613 ISBN-10: 0547041012 Edition: 5 Ind Thm

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Product Details

  • Series: American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language
  • Hardcover: 2112 pages
  • Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Trade; 5 Ind Thm edition (November 1, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0547041012
  • ISBN-13: 978-0547041018
  • Product Dimensions: 11.2 x 8.8 x 2.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 9.9 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (94 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #20,186 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

About the Author

The Editors of the American Heritage Dictionaries are trained lexicographers with a varied array of interests and expertise. Most of the editors hold graduate degrees, and several have degrees in linguistics or in the history of the English language. All the editors familiarize themselves with the vocabulary in specific subject areas, collect materials on new developments and usage, and work in association with consultants to ensure that the content of our publications is as accurate and up-to-date as possible.

Customer Reviews

As far as I'm concerned this is the best dictionary on American English usage.
Richard L. Weatherly
The iPad app that comes with this edition is a terrific bonus and the app is very well put together.
Don R. Anderson
It is high quality paper and all the words are in blue so they are very easy on the eyes.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

91 of 98 people found the following review helpful By Linda on November 9, 2011
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I tutor elementary students in language arts and am a substitute teacher; the AHD Fifth edition was a replacement for my outdated AHD Third edition. I don't own electronic gadgets and, unlike another reviewer who wasn't happy thumbing through a seven pound tome (my scale registered the book at eight pounds, if that's important), I use my dictionary almost daily. The fifth edition includes color images; the guide words and entry words are printed in a nice blue. I would have liked a dust jacket, but the binding is study and will withstand frequent use with minimal wear and tear (though the light fabric may suffer from fingerprints). Have to admit I shook my head in bewilderment at some of the new entries, especially "ginormous" and "conversate."

Learning/education is a lifelong process, and a dictionary is as essential to a home as plumbing and electricity! Instead of purchasing new software for that gaming device or a ginormous TV for the family room, consider purchasing the American Heritage Dictionary for a holiday family gift instead. It's affordable, will last a lifetime, and may even become a family heirloom!
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102 of 117 people found the following review helpful By Rem on November 9, 2011
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
First and foremost, let me state that my disappointment mostly has to do with the extras that I have come to expect out of this dictionary, not entries and definitions themselves.

* the two-page spread of "Entries with Notes" [pp. vi-vii in The American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition : Print and CD-ROM Edition listing headwords that had Regional Notes, Our Living Language Notes, Synonym Notes, Usage Notes, and Word History Notes have disappeared without a trace

* "Regional Patterns of American Speech" essay by Lee Pederson [pp. xvi-xxi in the 4th] is nowhere to be found

* While some headwords have notes appended to them that they hadn't in the past, a lot of notes form the 4th edition are simply missing. (such as with ERR)

* some notes haven't been updated even though the situation remains fluid (such as a usage note at FORTE (1) hasn't been updated and still lists Usage Panel survey data from 1996)

* Indo-European and Semitic roots appendixes appear (after perusing the dictionary for a couple of days) to be exactly the same. (For instance, the new entry THOBE isn't referenced in the Semitic Roots appendix at all)

* Font size has changed from slightly smaller (in essays and entries) to a lot smaller (in Indo-European and Semitic Roots appendixes). Problem is that while making the font smaller did shave off over 6 pages (from 35,5 to 29) from Indo-European Roots appendix, it only shaved off half-a-page from Semitic Roots appendix, thus not reducing the page number at all. Why couldn't the font size been left the same in Semitic Roots appendix?
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17 of 17 people found the following review helpful By dcubed on December 16, 2011
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I looked at this dictionary at the library while trying to make a decision between two other dictionaries (Merriam-Webster Collegiate, 11th edition and Webster's New World College). This library did not have New World, but did have MW and the text looked very muddy to me, not inviting. My children and I also looked at some of the other dictionaries available like the Oxford Shorter English and this American Heritage. Both had clean, crisp text but the AH also had the main words in blue, the definitions in clear black and color pictures in the margins. I admit that I was drawn to the color pictures and found the blue printing really made the words stand out and invited perusing for enjoyment.

The other dictionaries might have better selections and more extras (and I would most *definitely* prefer a CD/download that works on Windows instead of iOS or Android), but this is the one where I would enjoy the experience.
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36 of 44 people found the following review helpful By Richard L. Weatherly on November 9, 2011
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
The American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language, Fifth Edition

TAHD has been a favorite reference of mine for as long as I can remember. I currently own the 3rd and 4th Editions of the AHD as well. As far as I'm concerned this is the best dictionary on American English usage. As always, it provides comprehensive information on word derivations including common Indo-European origins.

This volume has approximately 20,000 words compared to the 3rd Edition. Other enhancements includes the use of color for the word listings, illustrations and photos. Image quality is excellent as is the printing and binding.

The publisher provides a download code redeemable on iPad/Iphone or Android mobile devices. With the proliferation of mobile devices this is a more viable option than CDs. According to the printed card for the installation code, this is a one time download so don't expect to use it on more than one type of device. Amazon Kindle support has confirmed this will work on the new Kindle Fire.
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12 of 13 people found the following review helpful By R. M. Sills on March 17, 2012
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
The American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language has been my favorite dictionary for many years. I just bought the fifth edition (2084 pages), and still have the first (1550 pages) and fourth (2074 pages). In this review, I'll discuss two items -- the entries themselves, and the side notes for various words.

For the entries, I looked at a short section near the word "dictionary." Compared to the fourth edition, the fifth edition dropped "didapper" (a type of grebe) and added "dicyclomine" (a medical drug); this reflects a greater emphasis on technical words. (This continues a trend that has been occurring since the first edition -- dropping "Dictograph" and "Didache" and adding "dictyosome" and "didanosine.")

To me, the outstanding feature of the American Heritage Dictionary has been the side notes -- not just synonyms, but also usage notes, word histories, etc. Unfortunately, in this respect, the fifth edition is considerably weaker than the fourth.

In the L section through "limbo", the fourth edition has 24 words with side notes (excluding synonyms), but the fifth edition has only 13. That is, about half of the old side notes are gone. The fifth edition no longer has a word history for "lemon", a usage note for "lifestyle", or a regional note for "lightning bug." There is also a small reduction in the number of words with synonyms.

These side notes made the American Heritage Dictionary fun for browsing, and the fifth edition is much weaker in this regard than the fourth. It's still an excellent dictionary, but less interesting and enjoyable than the previous edition.
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