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Random House Historical Dictionary of American Slang, Vol. 2: H-O Hardcover – September 2, 1997

ISBN-13: 978-0679434641 ISBN-10: 067943464X Edition: 1st

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 984 pages
  • Publisher: Random House Reference; 1 edition (September 2, 1997)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 067943464X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0679434641
  • Product Dimensions: 11.5 x 8.9 x 1.6 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 4.4 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (15 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #346,292 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Library Journal

In 1947 Random House launched its first dictionary, the celebrated American College Dictionary. Today, half a century later, the publisher is recognized as one of the premier lexicographic houses in North America, noted for its careful attention to new vocabulary, both standard and nonstandard. Fittingly, Random House marks its 50th anniversary in the dictionary business with these two major publications, both of which will be familiar to librarians. Volume 2 (H-O) of the slang dictionary, which adds about 10,000 main entries to the corpus, maintains the impressive quality that distinguished Volume 1 (LJ 8/94). The final volume (Q-Z) is scheduled for publication in 2000. This is simply the best slang dictionary ever compiled, and all but the smallest public and academic libraries should have it. The College Dictionary, a descendant of the aforementioned American College Dictionary, first appeared under its current title six years ago (LJ 6/15/91). The new edition is a thorough update, offering first-rate coverage and treatment of American English as used in the mid-1990s. For instance, "chat room" is here, as is the latest connotation of "closure." It competes well with other dictionaries in its class, including Merriam Webster's Collegiate Dictionary (LJ 9/1/93) and the American Heritage College Dictionary (1993. 3d ed.). Essential for most collections.?Ken Kister, author of "Best Encyclopedias," Tampa, Fla.
Copyright 1997 Reed Business Information, Inc.

Review

"A landmark publication, at one stroke sweeping its predecessors into the shade . . . It is one of those rare books that prompts the realization that you have never seen the subject in such sharp focus before."
--John A. Simpson, Chief Editor, Oxford English Dictionary

"A monumental book."
--The New York Times

"Will do for nonstandard English what the Oxford English Dictionary did for the whole language".
--William Safire

"No one has ever created a scholarly work that is more fun."
--Newsweek

"The funniest . . . work of profound lexicographical slang-scholarship ever published . . . The book belongs on every patriotice coffee table."
--Nicholson Baker, The New Review of Books

"A browser's joy . . . an awesome tribute to the American popular imagination."
--Boston Globe

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Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

40 of 40 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on June 30, 2003
Format: Hardcover
This is an indispensible book for writers and for anyone who loves words, but only if you're looking for something from A to O, since Random House dumped the project. Hope may be on the horizon, though. As reported in William Safire's On Lanuguage column (NYT Mag. 6/29/03), the National Endowment for the Humanities came up with a grant of $325,000 over two years to keep J.E. Lighter's project going, and Oxford University Press picked up the challenge. Oxford is now working out the contract details with Random House.
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13 of 13 people found the following review helpful By Craig Miller on September 4, 2001
Format: Hardcover
I am an avid collector of dictionaries, and this is one of my favorites. It is an invauable reference, and fun to browse. The definitions are clear and, from my experience, accurate. The attempt to find the earliest references is impressive -- certainly the best of its kind, but it is not 100% accurate. No work of this type, which breaks much new ground and works so often from primary sources, could be completely accurate, but it it provides an invaluable foundation for future slang etymology. A truly awesome work. I check back monthly for volume III.
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17 of 18 people found the following review helpful By D. Rebnord on January 14, 2005
Format: Hardcover
The Oxford University Press has picked up sponsorship of this project from Random House and hopes to release Volume III (P- partial S) in May 2007 and Volume IV (remainder S - Z) in 2008.

In the meantime we have Volumes I & II to enjoy.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Grant Barrett on March 9, 2006
Format: Hardcover
Oxford University Press is currently undertaking the massive editorial work required to finish this ground-breaking four-volume set that was started more than 25 years ago. The third volume, covering the alphabetic range of P through Sk, is due to appear in March 2007. Volume IV, covering Sk through Z and including a bibliography of tens of thousands of items, is planned for two years later. More information can be found at the <a href="[...]">Oxford University Press web site</a>. There you will find a <a href="[...]">history of the project</a> and a long <a href="[...]">interview with Chief Editor Jonathan Lighter</a>. [This information was added by Grant Barrett, project editor of HDAS.]
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Harry Eagar VINE VOICE on October 5, 2008
Format: Hardcover
In 1997, when I received and reviewed this volume, a letter to the editor of the newspaper where I work used the word bimbo, which set off a long discussion among the editors.
What, exactly, does bimbo mean? How offensive is it? Can a man be a bimbo? If so, is the female of the species a bimba? A bimbette?
At such moments, a boy's best friend is a good slang dictionary. Unfortunately, all slang dictionaries are out of date, incomplete and somewhat speculative.
So we were not able to get answers to all our questions about bimbo. But we got more information from J.E. Lighter's "Random House Historical Dictionary of American Slang" than from any other slang book -- almost three-quarters of a page, including references to bim as early as 1925, bimbo in 1918 and bimbette in 1982.
Of the five slang books on my desk, I still generally reach for Wentworth and Flexner's "Dictionary of American Slang" first. Though dated (1960), it's handier than Lighter's bulky volumes and it goes all the way through to z.
But after meeting my deadline, I usually make a beeline for the Random House for its more up-to-date and complete entries.
Both favorite dictionaries trace bim in some senses as far back as 1837. But bimbo in the current sense of something close to floozie gets a too-narrow reference in W&F as "prostitute; girl or woman who is promiscuous" and dated to about 1930.
Lighter carries that sense back to 1920 and cites 16 uses over the net 70 years that prove, if anything, that nobody agrees what bimbo really means. But imprecision is a feature of slang.
Volume one of Lighter, A-G, came out in 1994, so in 1997 I was anticipating having the complete dictionary by the end of the decade. No such luck, as other reviewers have related.
Read more ›
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Dr. Peter Reynders on November 30, 2004
Format: Hardcover
I am just a Chemist and not into the language academic field at all. Also from abroad. But this project of compiling the American slang is so much a part of American culture that I do not understand why anybody finances vol. 3. Even the present government should do it. The existing two volumes are not just a dictionary; reading them is more like going through a novel. I enjoy them although incomplete.
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7 of 10 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on August 11, 2000
Format: Hardcover
I'm certainly one of the above, always have been. I have dictionaries, encyclopedias, and other reference books overflowing in my house. In some way it has always been that ability to just walk over to a bookshelf or lift off a table that source which will answer whatever top-of-mind question might linger.
On another level, I study pop culture for a living, but when I'm out of the office my mind drifts toward what the world might have been. I cringe at Hallmark Hall of Fame MOWs and their inaccurate stories of courage and love and other nonsense. I love reading Jim Thompson and David Goodis, Cormac McCarthy, EL Doctrow, Nelson Algren and others who either wrote of their reality or really dove into their subjects and fleshed them out with all the roughness of true life.
I've actually started an after dinner game with several of my friends. I take out these two first volumes and we alternate randomly opening the books and reading out the first word and definition we find, providing it hasn't been marked as read.
I really hope the next volume comes out soon. This is a phenomenal piece of work.
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