- Hardcover: 1664 pages
- Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt; Third Edition edition (September 9, 1996)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0395669170
- ISBN-13: 978-0395669174
- Product Dimensions: 10.1 x 7.4 x 2.2 inches
- Shipping Weight: 4 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars See all reviews (261 customer reviews)
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #3,732,222 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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The American Heritage College Dictionary Third Edition Edition
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Despite the word "college" in the title, The American Heritage College Dictionary is the best choice for anyone who's looking for a substantive desk dictionary but isn't quite ready to commit to the space an unabridged takes. With more than 200,000 definitions and biographical and geographical notes, along with crisp photos, drawings, and diagrams in every margin, The American Heritage College Dictionary packs a lot into its 1664 pages. Under "lock," for example, you'll find both a diagram explaining how your key fits into and opens one, as well as a photo of boats passing through a river lock in Heidelberg, Germany. The actual definition section for "lock" shows 5 uses as a noun and 14 as a verb, followed by the idioms "lock horns" and "lock, stock, and barrel," and an etymological note that the word comes from the Old English loc, meaning "bolt or bar." As with all of the American Heritage dictionaries, The American Heritage College Dictionary boasts clear typography, clean design, and terrific usage notes based on the opinions of its 173-member usage panel, a group of noted North American writers and scholars, including Daniel Boorstin, June Jordan, Calvin Trillin, and Eudora Welty. These usage notes (for example, "brunette" seldom refers to men, because "-ette" is too closely associated with the feminine gender), along with regional notes (in the Northern U.S., a "bubbler" is a drinking fountain) and word histories, are a valuable addition to the standard definitions and synonyms one would expect from a college dictionary, and they are what make The American Heritage College Dictionary stand out from the crowd. --Rebecca A. Staffel --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
From Library Journal
Dictionaries run the gamut from the extremely specialized, such as the Oxford English Dictionary, to picture books designed for young readers. This one falls in the huge middle ground of general-interest, all-purpose dictionaries. Substantially revised and expanded after nine years, with 7500 new words and thousands of updated definitions in all areas, the current edition is made particularly relevant by the inclusion of many terms for Internet or computer-related topics, for example, as well as terms related to the September 11 attacks including "9/11" itself. The editors, who are affiliated with Houghton's reference division, also responsible for the longstanding The American HeritageR Dictionary of the English Language, provide lucid definitions of terms as well as biographical information on prominent people from a wide assortment of fields (e.g., science, business, politics, and the arts). They have also updated data on U.S. cities and states with population statistics from the 2000 census and have added over 2500 photographs and handy black-and-white illustrations, such as diagrams, charts, and outline maps of countries throughout the world. Quirks do appear: there is no definition of "free jazz," for example, despite coverage of other major jazz genres such as Dixieland, fusion, bop/bebop, hot and cool jazz, and swing. In such cases, a specialized topical dictionary is needed. Also, users should retain older dictionaries to locate terms cut from the current edition or to see how words change over time. Finally, although etymologies are given for many words, as are notes on language use and synonyms, a good thesaurus is still needed to help users find comparable words. These minor drawbacks aside, this still makes for a fine general-interest dictionary that continues the strengths of its predecessor and is sure to be of use in any library. William Kenz, Minnesota State Univ., Moorhead
Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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Top Customer Reviews
In my opinion, the NOAD is clearly a better dictionary for reasons listed below. Generally, the NOAD's entries are longer and more detailed, hence the reader gets more information. The American Heritage definitions are almost too concise (usually too concise for my preference) although many people may prefer the shorter definitions. Each dictionary will have a number of lesser know words (and even some more common words) the other dictionary will not have (especially scientific words, geographical locations, and newer words), so one dictionary is not superior as far as having a significant amount of more entries. It appears to me the NOAD has more entries, but even if it doesn't, it is still a better dictionary.
Some comparisons of American Heritage Dictionary (2006) to the NOAD (New Oxford American Dictionary)(2004)
-The American Heritage 2,006 pages long A to Z, the NOAD is 1,959 pages A to Z. The American Heritage does not list anywhere that I can see how many entries it has. The NOAD says it has over 250,000 entries. The font of the American Heritage is smaller but it is just as easy to read as the NOAD's font. The NOAD uses 3 columns per page, the American Heritage uses 2.
-The American Heritage has some newer words not found in NOAD, such as Red state, Blue state, Sudoku, Texas hold'em, but don't get the idea though this makes it better than the NOAD. Here are some words (some relatively recent) the NOAD has that the American Heritage does not have: macarana (the dance), tamagotchi (the Japanese toy), October Surprise, Hamas (the militant Palestinian group), heat-seeking, (as a missile) tarte Tatin, solid south, spaceship earth.
-The American Heritage is visually more appealing with its 4.000 color pictures complete with a nice design layout. Although the NOAD lacks color, it has many effective illustrations, and it even devotes full pages to maps.
-A big advantage of the American Heritage is that it details some interesting etymological histories of about 400 common words. For instance the American Heritage dictionary gives a 13-line history on the word Kangaroo, explaining that it is not from an Aborigine meaning "I do not know," and then proceeds to explain the true history of the word. The American Heritage also has usage notes on over 750 synonyms, 100 notes on regionalisms, 500 notes on usage issues, and 50 notes on the social dimensions of some words.
-Although the NOAD does not give these selected, interesting word histories, overall the NOAD etymology is done much better than the American Heritage's etymology. The NOAD's etymological explanations are consistently more detailed, and it will frequently add a time frame when the word came into use, e.g. early 17th century (although it will not give specific years), something the American Heritage does not. The NOAD will give folk etymology of some words, and like the American Heritage will give notes on proper usage and help the reader/writer use the right word with synonyms.
-One huge advantage the NOAD has over the American Heritage is that it adds many, many more common word phrase origins associated with a word, including proverbs, clichés, etc. For instance the word `pie" n. the NOAD will list the phrases "as easy as pie" "as sweet as pie" "a slice of the pie" and "pie in the sky" (and giving definitions of each phrase) while the American Heritage just lists and defines "pie in the sky." The NOAD will also give the origin of a few phrases such as "flash in the pan" (from the failure of gunpowder to ignite properly to fire a gun). The American Heritage does none of this with its phrases, but note that the American Heritage Dictionary publishes a separate book on word phrase origins, which is probably the reason it places little emphasis on them in its main dictionary.
-The NOAD is superior in the biographical entries to the American Heritage. Each dictionary will have some people the other will not, but when they are similar, the NOAD almost always gives more information in a biographical entry. The NOAD is also superior in geographical entries. food entries, and political terms. The NOAD is also better at including entries one would normally find in an encyclopedia, for instance Tamil Tigers, Hammond Organ, Abby Road are in the NOAD, but not in the American Heritage.
-The NOAD is slightly better in giving information about nations of the world. The American Heritage's entries on nations is short and very basic, while the NOAD's, though not much longer, it will nevertheless give a better history of a country than the American Heritage will.
I love dictionaries, and in comparing these two dictionaries, the NOAD to me has its pulse on the English language more than the American Heritage. The American Heritage Dictionary however is still very good choice, but if I could take only one, it would be the NOAD. If you love words, you should get both to enjoy the variety each provides.
American Heritage is one of three dictionaries I think are worth owning and one of two that I think are tied for best. Describing all three in chronological order (and also in order from okay to great):
Merriam-Webster is the original Webster's dictionary; their collegiate dictionary is an abridgement of their Third New International Dictionary, the biggest dictionary of American English. Therefore some people, including the publisher I worked for, consider it the most authoritative dictionary. I used to think so too, but not anymore. I think it is too conservative and slow to embrace change. My M-W Collegiate Dictionary has a copyright date of 2000, but doesn't include words like "webcam" or "webmaster," which A.H. includes.
Webster's New World Dictionary has been around for about 50 years and I've heard that it's the dictionary most often used by journalists. It's as good as A.H. or any other college/desk/general-use dictionary you'll find. In a couple ways, W.N.W. is actually better: it does a really great job of cataloguing idioms, and a pretty good job with synonyms too. Definitely worth buying.
American Heritage has been around for about 20-25 years, I think, and to me what makes it most unique is its progressiveness and its quickness at cataloguing language change. "Webcam" and "webmaster" are in A.H. It's got great photos, too (especially the color photos in their unabridged edition, of course, but even in their college edition the black and white photos surpass anything in M-W or W.N.W.). When I look at a definition in A.H., I feel like I am seeing something relevant and up-to-date. I originally bought the unabridged A.H. dictionary, but I exchanged it for their college dictionary because personally I need a dictionary that's light enough that I can whip it off the shelf in a flash without the risk of injury (grin).
I own all three of the above dictionaries. When I worked at a bookstore, I recommended either A.H. or W.N.W. as being the best. To me it is a matter of taste which is the best. If I had to choose one, I'd be a tough choice. I guess I'd pick W.N.W. just because I think it gives you more content for your dollar, but I'm glad I own A.H. too. As you can see from my rating, it is a 5-star dictionary, and in some ways it is the best.