on September 8, 2000
I am responding to a reviewer who had a difficult time trying to load the CD onto his hard drive, so he wouldn't have to have the CD in the disk drive while using it.
The instructions are clearly written, and easily accessible, in the help contents, but I thought I would list them below anyway: You simply copy the entire CD into a folder on your hard drive and run SETUP.EXE from there by double-clicking on it. This will allow you to run The American Heritage® Dictionary from your hard drive without having to insert the CD. (Please note: This will require 600 Megabytes of disk space.)
If you want to use The American Heritage® Dictionary with Microsoft® Office (and this is a wonderfully helpful feature):
You can use The American Heritage® Dictionary on CD to look up words in the following Microsoft® Office 97 and Microsoft® Office 2000 applications: Microsoft® Word, Microsoft® PowerPoint, Microsoft® Access, and Microsoft® Excel.
To look up the definition of a word while you are working in one of these applications, just right-click on the word. The drop-down menu that results will contain the item "American Heritage® Dictionary". If you click on this menu item, The American Heritage® Dictionary application will appear, showing the dictionary entry for the word.
If you want to look up a phrase (for example, "give away"), you should select all of the desired text before you right-click.
Exception: In Microsoft® Excel, you can select an entire cell and invoke the Dictionary by right-clicking, but you cannot do so while editing the cell.
on October 27, 2000
For a few years, I was a happy user of the prior version of this CD-ROM. It was a Windows 3.1 program, but still worked well in Windows 95/98. My only criticism of the prior version is that you can't load the entire dictionary (with pronunciation) onto the hard drive. In any event, I lost the CD-ROM, and, as a temporary measure, have been using the dictionary included with Microsoft Bookshelf 95. When the Fourth Edition of the AHD was released on CD-ROM, I purchased it with high expectations. Unfortunately, it is a stinker. True, you can load the entire program (including spoken pronunciation) onto the hard drive. But the features stop there. Unlike the prior edition, you can't do a reverse look up. For example, if you know there is a word that means, roughly, superficial knowledgeability, the AHD4 can't help you. In the prior version, you could search the definitions for "superficial knowledgeability" and come up with sciolism. Also, opening the program takes at least three times as long as the old version. You can't double-click on a word in the definition to get that word's definition. Finally, listings of colleges and universities (total enrollment and street address) are not included in the AHD4.
on September 4, 2002
I was always a fan of the AHD, or rather, I didn't really think about it much because I always found what I needed in the big old clunky AHD3. So this new edition (AHD4) comes as a disappointment. The simple problem is, there aren't enough words defined. Recently, I was reading a rather pretentious essay. I came across a paragraph that had four words I wanted to look up. "Screed," "pellucid," "perfervid" and "consentaneous." I already thought I knew what the first three words meant, but I wasn't sure what the differences were between "pellucid" and "lucid," for example, or "perfervid" and "fervid." (As far as I can tell, the answer is: none). My concern about "screed" was whether it was a colloquialism. And "consentaneous" really threw me. Only one of these four words (pellucid) was listed in the AHD4. I found all of the words in another, older dictionary. Moreover, the dictionary is chock-full of trademark names, historical figures, popes and such, and dubiously useful illustrations of such things as the ubiquitous "cowcatcher" (it appears to be a train) and the "swan dive." (In case you don't know what he looks like, there is also a helpful portrait of the President under the entry "Bush, George W.") But no "screed." (Incidentally, this review is something of a screed, albeit a relatively restrained one.) For these reasons, I cannot recommend this dictionary to anyone seeking a comprehensive reference.
on March 26, 2003
Although this CD-ROM predates Office XP, it can be made to work correctly with it.
1. Locate the file named AHDLookup.dot, on the CD or on your hard drive, if you have copied the data to your hard drive. Select (highlight) this file and type Ctrl-C to copy it.
2. IF YOU HAVE WINDOWS 95, 98, or NT: Paste AHDLookup in C:\Program Files\Microsoft Office\Office 10\Startup. Restart your computer.
3. IF YOU HAVE WINDOWS ME, 2000, or XP: Paste AHDLookup in C:\Documents and Settings\[your username]\Application Data\Microsoft\Word\Startup. Restart your computer.
on January 10, 2001
I was looking for an on-line dictionary which could be used with Microsoft Word. Unfortunately, most of the dictionary reviews were negative for nearly all of the available products. I went with the American Heritage Dictionary and I have not been disappointed. So far, the complaints listed in the other reviews seem unjustified. I loaded the entire dictionary onto my hard drive (entire directory is about 450 Meg), and the dictionary is working like a charm. In Microsoft Word you simply right click on any word and select American Heritage Dictionary. The definition appears on the screen immediately (along with an optional vocal pronunciation and the etymology of most words). This product is an excellent tool if you are in need of an on-line dictionary.
on October 11, 2000
I received the electronic version of AHD4 yesterday. It's fancy, it includes the new words & definitions, but to me it's disappointing.
I have used AHD3 Deluxe since 1993, and liked it very much: - Small (16MB of hard drive space) - Fast (under 1 second to ready on my Celeron 450) - Any word pops into the definition list on a double-click - Material on the Windows clipboard is defined as soon as the dictionary is launched - The pronunciation font is even on the baseline, and the letters are of of consistent size - Indo-European roots accompany the definition - A droplist contains the most recent words asked for - Dragging the scrollbar shows the current position in the alphabet - The definition can be pasted into another document (including the AHD pronunciation font) - Synonym and antonym lists accompany the definition - There's a logical search (AND OR NOT for words in a definition) - There is a clever acronym generator (the product's only fluff)
AHD4 is a disaster for this user: - Large (requires either the CD be kept inserted or 790MB of hard drive space) - No configuration options other than font and window size - Slow (9 seconds to ready on my Celeron 450) - Browser-like, meaning the old double-click any word is gone, and only highlighted words can be clicked; others have to be copied/pasted - Material on the clipboard isn't ready for definition on launch - The pronunciation font is funky -- inconsistent size and not aligned to the baseline - Indo-European roots are stashed in an appendix and have to be looked up individually - Page up/down doesn't work on the definition list - The special characters in the pronunciation don't paste into another document - Dragging the scroll bar doesn't show the letter of the alphabet as it moves - No synonyms or antonyms - No logical search - No acronym generation - Inconsistent presentation; looking up "good" returns "best", "better", and "good" in that order - Installation option to eliminate "vulgar words"
Interesting additions are pronunciations (definitely American Radio Standard), illustrations, and video -- and, of course, the new words. There are also Semitic roots, and separate searches for images, usage notes, spelling suggestions, and patterns.
But overall the dictionary's interface and features are a thorough disappointment.
on February 1, 2001
Because of the mixed reviews on this CD-ROM version of the AHD, I put off ordering for several months. I should have listened to the many negative reviews. This is a cumbersome program of little use as a writing tool. It offers only a few short definitions for each word -- nothing like the treatment given in most printed dictionaries. Its one innovative feature, its audio pronunciation option, is useful. In the case of foreign names, however, pronunciation is only offered for the last name. Even here I found that, apparently, where pronunciation has been "americanized" over time, it is used rather than the original. This may have some use to elementary or junior highschool students, but I am afraid it is more trouble than it is worth for normal writing. Does anyone know of a good CD-ROM dictionary?
on October 3, 2002
I am usually not a big fan of the American Heritage dictionaries, especially the college versions, which tend to sacrifice good content (definitions, etymologies) for the sake of large, readable text and lavish color illustrations. This one, however, is quite different and offers definite advantage over most comparable pocket dictionaries. The text is very small but readable, there are still a great deal of illustrations/photos (esp. of famous people), but it is full of clear, consise definitions (70,000+ of them) and - unusual for a pocket dictionary - etymologies. Almost every word is followed by an etymology. All words (and their derivatives) include pronunciation. This dictionary also features an unusual number of entries for place names (incl. relatively small cities, e.g. "Tacoma: A city of W-central WA S of Seattle. Pop. 176,664") and people (even artists and such not well known by the general public, e.g. "Scho"nberg, Arnold. 1874-1951. Austrian composer"). Admittedly, such entries will not be of use to most people, but it is still impressive that they find their way into such a small dictionary (4"x7", 1.5" thick). There are also some useful charts, including (international) currency, Morse Code, Braille, and a Periodic Table of the Elements.
All this is nice, but without good, clear definitions, it would be worthless. In my opinion, this dictionary delivers, offering (based on my comparisons) generally more elaborate but still clear and consise definitions, compared to the equivalent Random House dictionary. Between this and the etymologies for nearly every word, this dictionary is easily worth [the price] and much more; combined with the other features, which some will find useful, I do not hesitate to recommend it as an all-around great pocket dictionary.
on September 25, 2000
I got the CD-Rom version, which during intallation wanted to overwrite three DLL files on my PC. After the installation Microsoft Word asked -- every time I went to close it -- if I wanted to save changes that had been made to my "global template." I have enough trouble with Word "features" without this annoyance. Thanks to Adaptec's "GoBack" I was able to return my system to normal, in effect deleting the blasted dictionary (which, by the way, must have the CD in the drive to find a definition -- some "convenience").
My advice: skip the CD, buy the book. I'm out $25 (including shipping), and have nothing to show for it but wasted time.
on November 25, 2003
NB: This review is for the CD-ROM only! First to get the obvious out of the way. If you are going to have a single dictionary of American English, this is it. But buy it in print if you want to access the full text. I have loaded it successfully, but NOT all of the roots links WORK. And etymology is just part of the fun (and the price tag) when buying a high-end lexicon. There are roots in both the Indo-European and Semitic sections that are not functional. Yes I tried exchanging the disk, yes I tried multiple reloads (in which all other sections worked), yes I tried customer service (the latter claimed that there were no known issues with the software.) Is the problem just for Windows XP? I do not know. I do know that I would like to own this once all the bugs are out. It is a shame that as of Nov 2003, they are not.