Favourite dictionary ...

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Favourite dictionary ...

Post by tony h » Mon May 07, 2018 7:03 pm

After a period of separation I am being reunited with my books. As it has been quite a while I have had to rely on electronic dictionaries. This has given an added piquancy to the aroma, the typography, the feel of the paper and that serendipity that accompanies looking for a word on a printed page.

Currently I am restricted to an old friend : a 1946 Chambers C20 which has been a part of my life forever. A 2 volume The New Shorter Oxford English Dictionary beckons across the room. The rest are in the study.

I was wondering whether others had preferences.
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Re: Favourite dictionary ...

Post by Erik_Kowal » Mon May 07, 2018 10:10 pm

My mainstay for many years has been a 1983 edition of Chambers 20th Century Dictionary, which has the advantages of being reasonably comprehensive and coming in a single volume. But at 35 years old, it's definitely inferior to today's online resources.

Of those, the Onelook.com metadictionary is my go-to tool because it looks up your search terms in many different dictionaries at once, with one notable exception — the Oxford English Dictionary.

That omission being noted, Onelook gives you excellent scope for getting the feel of how a given term is used in practice, since several of the dictionaries it consults by default (such as the online Merriam-Webster and the Oxford Dictionary Online) give examples of actual usage.

Incidentally, other visitors here may be interested in our list of links to both online dictionaries and other English language-related resources:

http://www.wordwizard.com/index.php/a-few-useful-links/
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Re: Favourite dictionary ...

Post by Phil White » Tue May 08, 2018 6:14 pm

For many years, I relied on the two-volume Shorter Oxford and the three-volume Merriam-Webster. Around ten years back, I invested in the sixth edition of the Collins English Dictionary (complete and unabridged). At that time (around 2005), it was hugely refreshing. It was one of the first major dictionaries to rely massively on corpus research over far more modern material than its rivals. It adopted a rigorous descriptive approach and provided a wealth of usage examples. Prior to that edition, I had never been a fan of the Collins dictionaries, but that one was a radical break with the past. I see that it is now in its 12th edition and costs a fraction of what I paid then!

But I have, for several years, been limited to online resources, and OneLook is my go-to source.
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Re: Favourite dictionary ...

Post by tony h » Tue May 08, 2018 7:32 pm

That's interesting about the Collins dictionary. My family was always quite dismissive about them (and my Dad was a director of Collins). I'll have a look at a newer one.

Phil, Erik do you not miss that happening on a word that you get with paper. An example, from today and in brief. The word to find is "griot", from which I also find "grindle","grimgribber" - an imaginary estate created by a swindling lawyer, "grimthorpe" - to restore an ancient building with extravagance rather than skill and taste - after the first Lord grimthorpe's restoration of St. Alban's cathedral.

I hadn't used OneLook, I tend to go to Dictionary.com. Just habit.
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Re: Favourite dictionary ...

Post by Erik_Kowal » Tue May 08, 2018 11:02 pm

I do prefer the paper format when I'm reading a physical book, precisely because it is such a suitable vehicle for serendipitous finds.

However, when I'm at the computer it is usually quicker and more convenient simply to use OneLook and its associated resources, especially as those are all more up-to-date than my ancient Chambers.
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Re: Favourite dictionary ...

Post by Ciara12 » Tue May 15, 2018 3:25 pm

My favourite is a Pocket Oxford Dictionary- 5th edition 1969. It is used frequently as it contains many Victorian terms useful when reading Dickens etc.
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