This is the first foray for any dictionary publisher in the U.S. into territory already covered by most of the major dictionary publishers. The new Merriam-Webster ESL dictionary is similar in format to the Oxford ESL Dictionary (2004), with black-and-blue print—definitions in black, examples in blue. It is larger both in size and word count, with approximately 100,000 words and phrases. There are 160,000 usage examples in addition to notes, drawings, and 16 pages of full-color art. British English definitions are included, but the emphasis is on American English, with a blue underline indicating 3,000 basic English words. The Merriam-Webster database of more than 100 million words was used to select words for inclusion, as were Internet sources, particularly the Lexis-Nexis database. The entries reflect current times, with definitions for chronic fatigue syndrome, crack baby, laptop, and the normal “informal offensive words.” Proper names are at a minimum (examples include Joe Blow, Joint Chiefs of Staff, and Ponzi scheme), but there are special sections for geographical and common first names. Other useful sections for learners of the language are a grammar review, spelling rules, words that are often confused, prefixes and suffixes, word roots, and a handbook of style. A free e-book download to Mobipocket Reader is available to users, but the interface is not as user-friendly as that of other dictionary downloads. Although the ESL audience will be the primary user of this reference source, it also could be used as a current dictionary for English-speaking students. With its reasonable price, public libraries may want an additional copy for the circulating collection. --Christine Bulson
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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.