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The Merriam-Webster Dictionary Paperback – February, 1995

ISBN-13: 008-1413006063 ISBN-10: 0877796068 Edition: 1st

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 720 pages
  • Publisher: Merriam-Webster; 1 edition (February 1995)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0877796068
  • ISBN-13: 978-0877796060
  • Product Dimensions: 8.6 x 5.7 x 1.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.3 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (5 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #3,119,176 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

About the Author

The Merriam brothers desired a continuity of editorship that would link Noah Webster's efforts with their own editions, so they selected Chauncey A. Goodrich, Webster's son-in-law and literary heir, who had been trained in lexicography by Webster himself, to be their editor in chief. Webster's son William also served as an editor of that first Merriam-Webster dictionary, which was published on September 24, 1847.

Although Webster's work was honored, his big dictionaries had never sold well. The 1828 edition was priced at a whopping $20; in 13 years its 2,500 copies had not sold out. Similarly, the 1841 edition, only slightly more affordable at $15, moved slowly. Assuming that a lower price would increase sales, the Merriams introduced the 1847 edition at $6, and although Webster's heirs initially questioned this move, extraordinary sales that brought them $250,000 in royalties over the ensuing 25 years convinced them that the Merriams' decision had been abundantly sound.

The first Merriam-Webster dictionary was greeted with wide acclaim. President James K. Polk, General Zachary Taylor (hero of the Mexican War and later president himself), 31 U.S. senators, and other prominent people hailed it unreservedly. In 1850 its acceptance as a resource for students began when Massachusetts ordered a copy for every school and New York placed a similar order for 10,000 copies to be used in schools throughout the state. Eventually school use would spread throughout the country. In becoming America's most trusted authority on the English language, Merriam-Webster dictionaries had taken on a role of public responsibility demanded of few other publishing companies. 

Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

30 of 30 people found the following review helpful By Brian Melendez on December 7, 2001
Format: Mass Market Paperback
The best pocket-sized, paperback dictionary of American English. With 70,000 words, this dictionary abridges the 215,000-word "Merriam-Webster's Collegiate Dictionary" (which, in turn, abridges the 445,000-word "Webster's Third New International Dictionary Unabridged"). The name "Webster's" long ago passed into the public domain, but these three dictionaries--and the Merriam-Webster brand--are the lineal descendants of Noah Webster's original nineteenth-century dictionaries, the first dictionaries of American English, which have been in print continuously for almost two centuries.
I keep this paperback handy on my desk for ready reference (along with a thesaurus, a style manual, and a usage dictionary). On the shelf nearby, I keep a more extensive basic reference set, including the heftier hardbound "Merriam-Webster's Collegiate Dictionary," of which this paperback version is a subset. This dictionary is highly abridged, thus not the most appropriate reference if you are looking for a word's detailed etymology, for an obscure word, or for thoroughness. But when writing for a nonliterary audience, when clear and simple communication is the goal, this book is a good check against writing that is getting too high and mighty. If a word does not appear here, I think twice about using it, keeping in mind the Fowler brothers' first "general principle" of good writing: "Prefer the familiar word to the far-fetched."
If you are buying one and only one dictionary, go with the hardbound "Collegiate Dictionary": it is more complete, yet stays within the realm of familiar words. But if you can manage, I recommend stocking both that dictionary and this one. Keep the hardbound version on the shelf, within reach, and consult it as necessary; but keep this one at your fingertips, and consult it routinely.
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39 of 43 people found the following review helpful By D. S. Heersink on April 16, 2000
Format: Mass Market Paperback Verified Purchase
This paperback was a major disappointment. I already have excellent hardback dictionaries, including the Collegiate version. But this version doesn't come close the Collegiate, and may not even be resourceful for eighth graders. The book struck out on the first of three inquiries. A closer look revealed polysyllabic words are few, and less common words are rare. If you're looking for a lightweight paperback to supplement your other resources, this dictionary is NOT it.
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9 of 10 people found the following review helpful By gftang@usa.net on September 28, 1997
Format: Mass Market Paperback
For instance, I can not find "COSSET" in this paper back dictionary and "BOGGLE" is only explained as "to overwhelm or to be overwhelmed by fright". So it's a pity that when I usaually use this dictionary, I have to use a heavier dictionary to look up such words as "COSSET" and "BOGGLE". After all, this dictionary is a suitable one for common use. I expect that it could diminish the differenc with its HOME and OFFICE Edition. M-Webster should not make this dictionary more like a pocket and simple one. Thank you!
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24 of 35 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on January 4, 1999
Format: Mass Market Paperback
The Merriam-Webster dictionary continues the fine tradition of dictionaries being the only books containing all (or an abridged portion, in this case) of the words in a particular language (here, English). From "aardvark" to "zytol", you can find it here.
The style of writing takes some getting used to. Merriam and Webster use a kind of stop-and-go, highly punctuated style of writing that makes the reader stop and think about each element and its place in the work as a whole. Some things about the book are mildly confusing, such as the fact that new characters are introduced at the rate of 30-50 per page, all the way through the book. Some of them are complex, like "Pneumoultramicroscopicsilicovolcanoconiosis", while others are common and transparent, like "the". All the characters come together in the end to form an amazingly realistic portrait of the living organism known as the English language.
I don't want to spoil the plot, but Merriam and Webster have done some amazing things with explaining words using other words, and also with incorporating every known word in the english language in the style of past dictionarial masters. A can't-stop journey from start to finish, for sure.
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Format: Paperback
Merrium-Webster has been around since the early 1800's the addition is fairly new home / office and has great pronounciation- gives all of the deffinitions and refferences and root on specific words and updated english usage for the specific words. All you need in a dictionary with over 65,000 definitions.
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