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The Dimwit's Dictionary: 5,000 Overused Words and Phrases and Alternatives to Them Paperback – August 1, 2002


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 400 pages
  • Publisher: Marion Street Press, Inc.; 1st edition (August 1, 2002)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0966517679
  • ISBN-13: 978-0966517675
  • Product Dimensions: 9.1 x 6 x 1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.4 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (10 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,564,651 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Review

...a fun and informative ... book that everyone who writes or talks should keep where it can be easily reached. -- Nancy Mehl, Myshelf.com, November 1, 2002

Dimwit's Dictionary and The Dictionary of Concise Writing...are two of the better usage books to come down the road. -- Zay Smith, Chicago Sun-Times, October 31, 2002

This book is a cure all (thank goodness that phrase is OK) for trite writing...We rated it five hearts. -- Bob Spear, Heartland Reviews, October 2002

About the Author

Robert Hartwell Fiske is also the author of The Dictionary of Concise Writing. He is the editor/publisher of the Vocabula Review, an online journal about the English language.

More About the Author

Robert Hartwell Fiske is the editor and publisher of The Vocabula Review (www.vocabula.com), since 1999 an online journal about the English language. He also publishes The Daily Vocabula, a free M-F email that offers sections on disagreeable English, elegant English, concise writing, and scarcely used words.

He is the author of:

* The Dictionary of Unendurable English (Scribner)
* To the Point: The Dictionary of Concise Writing (W. W. Norton)
* Elegant English (now for sale and being considered by publishers)


He is the owner of Vocabula Communications Company (www.vocabula.com/VCC.asp), which consists of The Vocabula Review, The Daily Vocabula, Vocabula Books, and Language Guardian.

Customer Reviews

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See all 10 customer reviews
This book is a worthy addition to any writer's reference library.
patti cavaliere
And although I have just received it, I can already see that The Dimwit's Dictionary may be just the book I have been looking for.
Michael Buschmohle
It offers literally an A to Z guide of thousands of overused words and phrases, and provides fresh alternatives.
Michael Meanwell

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

36 of 43 people found the following review helpful By Rebecca Brown on January 28, 2003
Format: Paperback
THE DIMWIT'S DICTIONARY is not exactly a kind book - it will shred every linguistic prop a writer is comfortable with & proud to know & use. Not that I'm proposing writers reinvent the way they write, I am, however, encouraging they use this dictionary to discover how hackneyed their writing might be. It is a litmus test to learn what separates the ho-hum from the memorable; the bland from the interesting.
Discover just how original, or not, is your writing. Learn about Ineffectual phrases, Moribund metaphors & Infantile phrases; Overworked words, Inescapable pairs & Torpid terms; Withered words, Wretched Redundancies & Egregious English; Quack equations, Foreign phrases, Grammatical gimmicks & much, much more!
THE DIMWIT'S DICTIONARY is an invaluable tool all writers need to have on their tool shelf, not to be taken too seriously or too much to heart, or brain, as is the case, as an author could get dreadfully pompous!
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25 of 29 people found the following review helpful By Michael Meanwell on November 26, 2003
Format: Paperback
'Manglish' ~ the act of mangling the English language ~ is sadly alive and thriving in the world. And many writers aren't helping just adding to the growing trend of misspellings, tautologies and clichés as well as hackneyed metaphors, inane expressions and bloated or weak writing.
Fortunately, help is at hand. Robert Hartwell Fiscke has produced two powerful, literary weapons for protectors of the language ~ The Dimwit's Dictionary: 5000 Overused Words and Phrases and Alternatives to Them and The Dictionary of Concise Writing: 10,000 Alternatives to Wordy Phrases.
The key to good writing, according to Fiske who is also the author and publisher of The Vocabula Review (an online journal about the English language), is concise and precise writing ~ and that's just what he offers with these two excellent reference books.
At first glance, you may be offended by the Dimwit's title ~ what person would buy a book which suggests he or she is a dimwit? Well, after leafing through it, you'll know why you bought it and maybe even refer to some of your past efforts as dimwit. I know I did.
The 400-page book is divided into two parts. The first examines a wide range of examples of lazy and weak writing, showing scribes how to improve useage through better word choices and creativity with the language.
Part two is the dictionary portion of the volume. It offers literally an A to Z guide of thousands of overused words and phrases, and provides fresh alternatives.
As Fiske explains from the outset: "Dimwitticisms are worn-out words and phrases; they are expressions that dull our reason and dim our insight, formulas that we rely on when we are too lazy to express what we think or even to discover how we feel.
Read more ›
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17 of 19 people found the following review helpful By MARTINEAU ROBERT on January 16, 2003
Format: Paperback
Somewhat self-righteous and pedantic at times, but highly pertinent on the whole. Actually makes very good reading. Mister Fiske seems to entertain a pet hate for foreign metaphors, French in particular, except when it suits him (portmanteau is coat-hanger in English).
Would definitely recommends it as a teaching reference at university level.
As a last word, Mister Fiske would do us a great favour by publishing all his works into one single book. References to other work(s) smacks of (concerted) mercantilism.
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22 of 26 people found the following review helpful By Jonathan Appleseed VINE VOICE on August 18, 2004
Format: Paperback
The title itself is more than just a little self-righteously pedantic, and the language used within often reflects the title. However, the contents are an excellent reference tool for anyone interested in sparking up their writing.

Cliché's, misplaced metaphors, and other identifications made by Fiske occur too often in published books. I personally use this (along with its relative companion, The Dictionary of Concise Writing) with regularity, and have caught myself more than once using language that could use some freshening up.
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14 of 16 people found the following review helpful By Midwest Book Review on December 8, 2002
Format: Paperback
The Dimwit's Dictionary by Robert Hartwell Fiske (Editor of the online journal about the English language: "Vocabula Review") is filled cover to cover with alternatives to over 5,000 tiresome cliche phrases. The entries are of two types. One type offers synonyms for cliche words and phrases, from "Achilles' heel" (foible, deficiency, etc.) to "you name it" (and so forth, and the like). The other type of entry identifies flawed and horribly overused verbal expressions, and categorizes them by type: "zillions" is an infantile phrase; "advice is cheap" is a quack equation; and "nipping at your heels" is a moribund metaphor. The value of this second type of entry is straightforward - if one is using any such phrase in their writing, then reaching for synonyms simply isn't enough; it's time to completely rework the expressed thought. Both types of entries are presented alongside one another in this alphabetized volume. Overall, The Dimwit's Dictionary is easy to use, and should be cover-to-cover reading (not simply used sporadically as a reference, but a page-by-page reading and explicit indoctrination in what phrases to avoid) for every neophyte writer who aspires to effective and memorable writing.
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