- Hardcover: 1664 pages
- Publisher: Merriam Webster; 11th edition (July 1, 2003)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0877798095
- ISBN-13: 978-0877798095
- Product Dimensions: 9.9 x 7.3 x 2.1 inches
- Shipping Weight: 3.7 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars See all reviews (1,242 customer reviews)
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #5,746 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Merriam-Webster's Collegiate Dictionary 11th Edition
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Sets a high standard for future desk reference. --Library Journal
A road map to where English is headed -- The Village Voice
At last the ease of the Internet combined with the authority of a trusted name in reference. --BookPage
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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Top Customer Reviews
It is simple to make this the default dictionary in Kindle instead of the bundled one.
At its heart, It is a standalone full copy of the Collegiate Dictionary, and can also be fully accessed as a separate book within Kindle. This makes browsing enjoyable, not just of its listings (including such pictures as dictionaries have) but also its supplemental materials.
When using it as a writer (I know the word, but not its spelling, nor if I completely understand the word I seek to use) and not as a reader, I would have been more pleased if those who had added electronic usability had also made it more intuitive to those of us with poorer ability to spell by more simply allowing the browsing for a word as is done with a paper dictionary. Yes, the pages are there exactly as they are in the paper version, but, for me, the electronics are not as good as the physical movement of the pages or groups of pages. It might be that adding a line which could be dragged at the top to change the pages displayed would further improve this.
This is easily the best dictionary of its class, period. It has an extraordinarily large number of entries and its definitions are concise and easy to understand. The only shortcoming is that there are few example sentences, but this is a necessary tradeoff to keep the size under control. For sheer richness of information it doesn't compare to the New Shorter OED, for example, but then again you can't toss the NSOED into your backpack and take it to school with you. This book is light and compact.
But the thing that really sets this dictionary apart is the CD-ROM. You can search for words using up to 15 different operations, including "rhymes with," "is a cryptogram of," "homophones are," "etymology includes," etc. You can use AND and OR operators to combine the various operations. These search functions are a tremendous asset to anybody who works with words, particularly writers, poets, and songwriters.
And did I mention that you get a free one-year subscription to their online dictionary with your purchase?
This package is a tremendous value for the money and really belongs in every home and office. And I have no doubt that Webster's 11 will continue to be the gold standard in the publishing industry for the foreseeable future.<I> --This text refers to an edition which conatins a CD-ROM. Not all editions of this item contain a CD. Please check the item desription for further information.--</I>
My summary impression is that this is a dictionary well worth buying, perhaps the best desk dictionary one can find.
The Collegiates, including this one, have been bit quirky, especially as regards pronuncation. For example, this dictionary has a strange relationaship with the schwa sound. In previous editions thre were many apparently inadvertent switches between the schwa (last vowel sound in "circus") and the short u sound (as in "but"). In this edition, however, there are four different sounds (including the short u) that are indicated by easily confusible variants of the schwa symbol.
In addition, the "a" vowels in marry and Mary -- distinguished by many mainstream speakers of American English -- are left undifferentiated, as in previous editions.
As in previous editions, a key to pronunciation symbols is provided on each recto page. Unfortunately, this little list omits perhaps 2/3 of the list of pronunciation symbols that fill one page of the front matter (making it hard to find each time you need it).
(If I were king of Merriam-Webster, I'd put the full pronunciation key where it belongs: on the inside front or back covers, or both.)
Another frustrating aspect for most users *was* that at least in the Tenth Edition, the oldest and often least-used definition of a word was listed first, causing your search for a certain definition usually to be more work.
It *appears* that this practice has now been abandoned with the Eleventh Edition, though I haven't found any explicit reference to it in the explanatory notes. If so, this will noticeably improve the ease of using this book.
Printing-wise, it appears that the darkness of the type has deepened in the Eleventh Edition (although this may just indicate where in a given press run my copy happened to come from). This makes my 11th Ed. distinctly easier to read than my 10th Ed. In addition, the main entries are now in sans-serif type. This isn't necessarily an aesthetic improvement, but far more important is that it makes finding your word easier on the eyes.
Unfortunately, as with the previous edition, the inner margins are too narrow, forcing one to read the right side of a left-hand page and the left side of a right-hand page from paper that is curving into the crease in the middle of the book; almost nothing short of breaking the binding is likely to counteract this problem.
A personal prejudice I have (that you may not share) is that I believe a dictionary owes its readers more than just a description of how language is currently used. (Some of current usage is in my opinion poor, and a dictionary is the right place to try to stem the tide of poor usage instead of merely describing it.) The Eleventh Edition, like recent previous ones, has many Usage Notes at the end of an entry.
I find these to be by and large too permissive, giving excuses for much questionable usage (while prudently reminding the reader that if they go ahead and employ some usages that M-W deems perfectly acceptable, they may be in for some criticism).
For example, one usage note supports the use of "literally" to mean "virtually". Another usage note supports the pronunciation of "nuclear" as "nucular" (lamely trotting out the fact that it has been used that way by members of many respected professions, including U.S. members of congress and even two U.S. presidents!!!!!).
Another drawback of this book for many is the massive inclusion of technical words like chemical names, and especially the names of a huge variety of plants and animals. This is all well and good in itself, of course. But these words are in most cases useful only to specialists in those fields, and given the limited space available, must necessarily drive out other candidates for inclusion that would be useful to a far larger number of readers...