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Merriam-Webster Dictionary of Synonyms Indexed Edition

4.9 out of 5 stars 24 customer reviews
ISBN-13: 978-0877793410
ISBN-10: 0877793417
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Editorial Reviews

About the Author

Since 1937. Merriam-Webster is America's foremost publisher of language-related reference works. The company publishes a diverse array of print and electronic products, including Merriam-Webster's Collegiate® Dictionary, Eleventh Edition – America's best-selling desk dictionary – and Webster's Third New International Dictionary, Unabridged. Merriam-Webster can be considered the direct lexicographical heir of Noah Webster. In 1843, the company bought the rights to the 1841 edition of Webster's magnum opus, An American Dictionary of the English Language, Corrected and Enlarged. At the same time, they secured the rights to create revised editions of the work. Since that time, Merriam-Webster editors have carried forward Noah Webster's work, creating some of the most widely used and respected dictionaries and reference books in the world.
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 944 pages
  • Publisher: Merriam-Webster; Indexed edition (June 1984)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0877793417
  • ISBN-13: 978-0877793410
  • Product Dimensions: 9.9 x 7 x 1.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 3 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (24 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #203,539 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
This excellent reference book deserves to be much better known than it is. I do a lot of writing in my job, and have used it (or its earlier edition) regularly for about 15 years. I am surprised at how many people do not seem to be familiar with it. There are few truly synonymous words in English; many words mean about the same thing, but have slightly different meanings and connotations, and are more appropriate in different contexts. The purpose of this book is to help you sort all of this out.
It is important to understand that this book is NOT a thesaurus, but a completely different, yet equally useful, reference work. A very good essay at the beginning of this book explains this, and gives an interesting history of how books of synonyms developed over the past centuries.
The best thesaurus is Roget's International Thesaurus -- the original work, now in its 6th edition, not one of the ones in "dictionary format." Roget's provides long lists words of similar meaning, grouped under conceptual headings. Its purpose is to jog your memory, spur creative thinking, or help you realize what you are really trying to say. It is absolutely the best thing for easing writer's block and helping you to find a word.
The purpose of this book, on the other hand, is to help you understand the differences between similar words. It explains nuances of meaning and compares words that mean approximately, but not quite, the same thing. It has a number of long entries that discuss 5 or 6 similar words together, explaining when to use each and giving examples (usually from good literature) of the correct use of each. When you look up one of the other synonyms, it will point you to the main article in which it is discussed.
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Format: Hardcover
This book and Chamber's Etymological English Dictionary are my two favorite but little-known word reference works. The main difference between this book and Roget's Thesaurus is it focuses more precisely on the actual meanings of the words. A thesaurus will give you plenty of words with similar or nearly similar meanings, grouped by general idea or concept. But most of the words are not exactly synonymous. If you need that, this book will come to your rescue. Another nice feature is, as another reviewer here pointed out, it will even give you examples of words with very similar meanings, but with enough description and definition so you can distinguish among otherwise seemingly identical words and synonyms.
It's also in some ways easier to use than a typical thesaurus, since if you just need a different word and can't recall one, it's easiest to just look it up and get a quick alternative, instead of going through all the extra words you'd get in a thesaurus, but which aren't exactly what you want. Overall, a fine reference work and one that deserves to be better known.
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Format: Hardcover
Throw away your thesaurus! Indeed, toss your worthless plain-penny dictionary, and obtain this work! Purchase it hardbacked and thumb-indexed (my forty year old copy is now falling to shambles). For years I have judged and esteemed _Webster's New Dictionary of Synonyms_ as the very best book on precise, pellucid, and exact usage of words. This book is its worthy successor. A thesaurus only lists words; this work discusses, compares, and contrasts words in exhaustive detail, with shades and nuances of meaning, with example sentences from published writers, with antonyms, and with analogous and contrasted words. No writer can do without it. As a teacher, I have recommended it to all my students. As a student myself, all those years ago, I perused nightly ten pages. It belongs with Fowler's as one of the great works in and on the English language.
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Format: Hardcover
A wonderful resource, if only for the pellucid 30 page introduction that schools the reader in the history of synonymy. Unlike thesauruses- which often corral words that may share inessential, non-fundamental aspects of their meaning, the MWDS is a discriminator among synonyms (strictly defined as words that have the same or very nearly the same essential meaning) that differ in their implication, connotation and/or application.
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Format: Hardcover
i was about to write a review of this book, as well as give my unassailable opinion as to which thesaurus is best. then, i read the first review, submitted by A CUSTOMER. the review is pretty much exactly what i was going to write, with one notable, though admittedly minor exception. the most startling thing about this book is that you very well may find yourself READING IT. it's fascinating to read about the different synonyms and how they differ in appropriateness and meaning. another thing about this other person's review is that he implied that he had an earlier edition of the book. mine is ninteen-sixty-eight edition, although i've used (and, unfortunately stored away) much earlier editions. i'm not sure about the current one, but the earlier ones distinguished between words that are now considered indistinguishable. for example, did you know that woody allen's humor is not self-"deprecating", it's "depreciating". and, i don't know if i used the quotation marks and commas correctly in the preceding sentence. anyway, don't be swayed by the fact that this is not a thesaurus. what it is, is both interesting and useful.
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