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Showing 1-10 of 23 reviews(4 star). Show all reviews
on March 17, 2012
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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on December 16, 2011
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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on February 9, 2012
I've been quite happy with the dictionary and I use it regularly, but I thought I would leave some information about the free app that comes with it.

The version of the app that comes with the printed dictionary is for *one device only*. Normally, when you buy an app from the Android App Market, it is downloadable and licensed for any Android device that's associated with your Google account. Not so with this app. The dictionary comes with a card with a code that allows you to download and install the app. That installation is good for just the single device -- once you install it, the code won't work again on any other devices.

This means you'd better be sure you know what you're doing when you first install the app. If you install it on your tablet and later decide it would really be more useful on your phone, you have a bit of a problem. It's also sort of awkward to transfer the app when you break your device or otherwise buy a new one. In either case, you have to email the company that makes the app and ask them to transfer your license (at which point the app will no longer work on your old phone).

It is my understanding, based on my communications with the publisher of the app, that these limitations are only true of the version of the app that comes bundled with the print dictionary. If you buy the app from the Android Market or the iTunes App Store, you can use it on any of your devices -- but you don't get the printed version of the dictionary, and it's a nice, well-made volume.

On the plus side, the app really is pretty nice. It includes all of the content from the printed dictionary, including photos where available and all of the usage notes (which aren't available on the Web-based version of the dictionary at Also, in my experience, the email support from the publisher of the app is friendly and knowledgeable, so I don't anticipate any hassles when it comes time to transfer the app to a new device.

One other note, though: The app does require Internet access to work! It does not load all of the content of the dictionary onto your device. It installs some of it (indexes and so on) and loads the rest from the Net. So if you need to look something up in an area where you don't have data service, you'll be out of luck.
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on April 8, 2014
American Heritage has long made THE dictionary to own. Even if I have some gripes with this edition, there's no question that the American Heritage is the one to own, period.

My gripe with this new edition is that I find the use of different color fonts for the text distracting. The main word is in blue, which for me, makes it harder to find on the page, and makes the page too 'busy' along with the (great) color photos. It starts looks like a page full of advertisements, too 'loud' for me.

I prefer the third edition, with thick, black, bold lettering for the key word, which makes the word I'm searching for easier to find. I'm willing to give up the color pix for readability, clarity, and 'quiet.' After all, I'm there to look up and study words. If I need pix, I can get them online in a second. And really: English hasn't changed that much, and you can get the 3rd edition third edition very, very cheap.

But the phone app is great with this edition: the full dictionary with you everywhere, in your pocket. That's a big plus, and I must admit I'm happy I have it. So I gave the dictionary to a friend, kept the app, use my 3rd edition, and everyone's happy!
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on January 15, 2013
The hardback dictionary arrived and is very nice. The promised access code for the online iOS or Android version was included on a postcard inside the front cover. Unfortunately, when one follows the instructions to download the iOS online version, the AHD5 App has been pulled from the Apple App Store. No explanation is given by Apple, nor the publisher, nor Amazon. A general web search suggests a Twitter "shame campaign" has gone awry and this has resulted in the app being abruptly pulled. Amazon customer service offered the Kindle online version as an alternative.
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on January 16, 2015
I bought this as a gift and was looking for a large print edition. I like the clean look of the pages. Even though the pages are thin, this dictionary weighs a ton (well, not really, but you know what I mean) and should be on a desk rather than carried around. For my purposes it's great.
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on April 15, 2014
Wow love this. I had one years ago and it disappeared. I tried to make do with a small one, just didn't work. There are new words from tech, science, cooking and sports, to name a few. There are more meanings of some words and illustrations on the side of the pages. Well worth the money. Love it.
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on October 21, 2013
I [personally] needed a newer dictionary. I'm a librarian, and we got this edition at the reference desk I work at. Yes, the print is small, and it's a bit heavy lifting with one hand , but It's worth it !
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on March 8, 2013
I bought this dictionary because I had a previous edition and like it very much. This one is not as convenient size wise. It's quite a bit heavier. Among other things, I use it to do the New York Times cross-word puzzle – in bed, before I start my day. It's a little awkward to handle in this circumstance. Otherwise it has all of the up-to-date words/terms. I also like the colour inset pictures in the margins.
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on July 8, 2013
excellent dictionary. includes examples of usage and origin. clear examples of each word. I would purchase another one in a heart beat. Pleased with both the desk top version and the compact paper version.
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