The 1998 10th edition of Merriam-Webster's Collegiate Dictionary
marks the 100th anniversary of this distinguished and popular reference standard, and this is more than just an interesting statistic--it means that Merriam-Webster brings years of experience and reams of citation files to the creation of this latest edition. Improving on their last dictionary, they've added more than 100 pictorial illustrations and supplemented the synonym paragraphs with examples. Along with the English dictionary, which forms the heart of the reference, the editors at Merriam-Webster have included a brief introduction to the English language and a history of the English dictionary, a guide to pronunciation, and a series of appendices that include chemical element abbreviations and symbols, foreign words and phrases, extensive sections with biographical and geographical names, signs and symbols, and a handbook of style.
But getting back to the book itself--it's impressively comprehensive for a collegiate dictionary, with more than 215,000 definitions. Each item includes a pithy wealth of information, with first usage date, etymology, and pronunciation, and clear, precise definitions. In addition, there are often usage notes, synonym cross-references, illustrative quotations, variant spellings and pronunciations, regional labels, and information on capitalization, function, and inflections. Then there are the extra touches. Under bible, for example, there's a chart detailing books of the Old Testament, Jewish Scripture, Protestant apocrypha, and books of the New Testament. Under months is a table listing the months of the principal calendars--Gregorian, Jewish, and Islamic. And wonderful line drawings illustrate terms such as mackerel, lyrebird, hedgehog, and the ancient Celtic stringed instrument known as a crowd. All this makes it a valuable reference--detailed enough for editors and writers, accessible enough for students and casual definition seekers, updated with the new vocabulary of technology, and rigorous enough for the linguistic perfectionists. --Stephanie Gold
From Library Journal
Despite a change in title, this volume supersedes Webster's Ninth New Collegiate Dictionary (1983) as the latest in a nearly 100-year-old line of college desk diction aries from Merriam-Webster. New editions in this series have appeared about every ten years since 1898. The tenth edition documents the changes in the language of the past decade with an additional 10,000 new meanings and words. It continues and expands the feature of "usage paragraphs" introduced in the ninth edition. These short essays explain how problem words are used in the language; thorny words and phrases such as irregardless , forte (one syllable or two?), hone in on , alright vs. all right , and hundreds more are given special attention. There is no retreat here from the descriptive philosophy that made Webster's Third New International Dictionary so controversial. This edition describes and illuminates use without labeling right and wrong. The comprehensive vocabulary presents a thoughtful mix of the new and the old. As in the previous edition, there are separate appendixes of abbreviations, foreign words and phrases, biographical names, geographical names, signs and symbols, and a handbook of style. To make room for new words, the appendix list of colleges and universities present in the ninth edition has been deleted. The inclusion of a first date of use for almost every entry is another welcome innovation. The dictionary is printed on good, heavy paper; the type is sharp although the pages are tightly packed to the point of being cramped. The binding of the deluxe edition is durable and sturdy. This is one of the (if not the ) best among the college dictionaries; recommended for all libraries large and small. Other good choices are Random House Webster's College Dictionary (1991) and Webster's New World Dictionary of the American Language (1988). For those wanting a more prescriptive college dictionary, a new arrival, the American Heritage College Dictionary Third Edition (1993), derived from the unabridged dictionary of the same name, is the right choice.- Paul D'Alessandro, Portland P. L. , Me.
Copyright 1993 Reed Business Information, Inc.