- Hardcover: 2184 pages
- Publisher: Houghton Mifflin (T); 3rd Bk&Cdr edition (October 1994)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0395711460
- ISBN-13: 978-0395711460
- Product Dimensions: 2.5 x 9 x 11.5 inches
- Shipping Weight: 3.3 pounds
- Average Customer Review: 87 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #7,905,089 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language 3rd Bk&Cdr Edition
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The AHD has always had a secret weapon, a special bonus that scholars like myself sought over and above other commonly available dictionaries, and that is still here (and improved). A serious person gets the AHD as opposed to a serviceable competitor because it includes the best Indo-European root dictionary and best etymological dictionary already present in the main volume. Furthermore, instead of merely porting that grand old dame from the 1920's over to the new edition, the editors knew enough to keep it serious, keep it linguistically sound, to update it according to modern scholarship, and to add amazingly helpful (even to those of us who understand the material already) visual displays of language families.
These features are not "consumer grade," however, and most users will not care, but they get all of this with their dictionary when they get the AHD instead of a Merriam-Webster or even Oxford (TM) (as opposed, of course, to the great and incomparable OED).
For the regular user, though, this edition has made the dictionary intriguing. The fonts are clear, inviting, and work with concise but well considered definitions. The sheer number of illustrations is staggering, and they appear to be never gratuitous. The dictionary does not illustrate for the flashy, but for the lemma that can only be understood by sight. ("A bird, brown with gray streaks" is accurate, but a picture will work wonders, there.) This is a dictionary that is irresistible. One cannot help jumping and ... forgive my saying so ... surfing from concept to concept, term to term.
A web based dictionary, and a look-up dictionary, will work for finding the already-known and answering the question well formulated, but it will not feed the mind or open the horizon. I am overjoyed at this volume and very, very pleased to see my old friend, the AHD adapt to and overcome the Internet age's challenges.
Well, I have noticed in recent months and years that the CD-ROMs included in dictionaries get an awful lot more use than the dictionaries themselves! I first noticed this with a nifty Thai-English dictionary. The CD version is so much easier to use that it's not even funny. But I looked around my computer and realized that I was doing an awful lot of Google searches for English word definitions, and was not really happy with the results. One example would be the word "flair." I was curious about the word's derivation / etymology, since I was pretty sure there was a French word "flairer" which means "to smell or scent." The on-line dictionaries were no help.
Now I have the American Heritage Dictionary on my computer, and it's a LOT more helpful. It's also a lot easier to use than the paper edition, which does weigh 8.2 POUNDS! :-) Note that the CD includes a couple of small freebies (!) --- a big huge thesaurus, and the complete Indo-European dictionary. The words all come with etymologies, and by gum there is that French verb "flairer," as I suspected.
Well worth looking at!! Well worth buying!!
One note: on my system, which has a lot of free space, the CD install took over 30 minutes. I guess that this is the fault of some really dumb copy algorithm in the installer, but still --- be aware.