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The Merriam-Webster Dictionary 1st Edition

4.0 out of 5 stars 7 customer reviews
ISBN-13: 978-0877796060
ISBN-10: 0877796068
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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. 


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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: 12.6 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (7 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,205,756 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Easy to use very helpful
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Format: Mass Market Paperback Verified Purchase
Not as advertised: 1.25" tear in bottom front cover, pages yellow (1997 book), otherwise ok condition. Was hoping it was a newer edition because a lot of words have been added in 16 years. Can't argue with price.
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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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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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