Saturday, January 31, 2009

uh boy, time for a new one!

I was looking up "codswallop" today in my dictionary and came to the sad realization this poor tattered book has probably reached the end of its useful life:




It can't even stand up on its own spine any longer; small wonder given there's not any spine left to speak of.

I checked the copyright page


I'm not sure if you can tell, but this book is older than three of the people who work in my office!

Verily, it's time to send Mr. Webster to the Retirement Home for Good and Faithful Reference Books, and call in the new team.

To that end, since I haven't bought a new dictionary since..oh...the last century, I thought I might prevail upon more informed people to aid in the selection.

If you've got a favorite dictionary, let me know. I need one that isn't horrendously expensive (ie I'm not buying the OED!) and won't dislocate the Octopussy's arm if it falls on her (so again, no OED!)

All advice welcome!

PS I need an actual book, not a CD ROM or a website. There are moments, rare but true, when I'm not electronically connected to the world and I need to look up "brouhaha." Yes, it's true, we have word fights here.

37 comments:

RoseNoel01 said...

www.m-w.com
www.dictionary.com

No books. Just internet. Accessible via everything, all the time.

Ann Victor said...

My favourite dictionary is is a CD of Collins Dictionary. It has a dictionary, thesaraus, quotations and pronounciation all on one little CD. I've had it for about 6 years and bought it at a local book store under their reference section. I also double check in the my old OED (not as old as yoru Mr Webster, but still old!) and in The Penguin Book of English Synonyms.

That works best for me, although sometimes I also do online google searches if I'm really trying to get a deep feeling for the word.

Whirlochre said...

1975 is old, but at least your dictionary isn't made of wood.

Much to my embarrassment, I still refer to an atlas printed round about that time. It's got the U.S.S.R. in it and everything.

Richard Lewis said...

Ahem. Apart from the standard dictionary (good old Merriam Webster Collegiate from me)which, obiter dictum, should be recycled every quinquennium, may I recommend "The Highly Selective Thesaurus for the Extraordinarily Literate" by Eugene Ehrlich. "Insulting English: A Compendium of Ingeniously Insulting Words for Every Occasion" by Novobatsky and Shea comes in handy from time to time, and is especially fun to use upon cockalorums suffering from pleionosis (ie vain little men suffering from an exaggerated sense of self-importance).

Marjorie said...

Well, this is not a dictionary... but it is a book that sits next to my computer and is a marvelous resource when I need just the right word.

It is: "The Superior Person's Book of Words," by Peter Bowler.

Is Peter Bowler "the eminence grise of certain ultramontane circles?"

Maybe.

Eric said...

New Oxford American Dictionary - hands down.

http://www.amazon.com/New-Oxford-American-Dictionary/dp/0195170776/ref=pd_cp_b_1?pf_rd_p=413864201&pf_rd_s=center-41&pf_rd_t=201&pf_rd_i=0194317145&pf_rd_m=ATVPDKIKX0DER&pf_rd_r=1WK97QGXYGEQR70MT4F2

Julie Weathers said...

I collect dictionaries and bibles. The older the better, but I also keep a current dictionary and thesaurus on the desk.

Currently, Websters dictionary and Oxford American thesaurus.

This will probably sound blasphemous, but I buy what I find on sale. The $10 1716-page one on sale because the dust jacket is smudged works just as well as the $49 one.

Favorite old bible? One I bought on ebay from 1843 that has notes all throughout about her thoughts on the sermons.

Adam Heine said...

I turn my internet off so that I can write, which means I need a Real Dictionary nearby to help me.

My poetry professor made me buy the American Heritage Dictionary, for 6 whole dollars - more than 70k words, 400 pictures, and it contains the word brouhaha at the bottom of page 113 (def: An uproar). I like it.

Ignatius said...

I, too, need to have a big, heavy dictionary by my side whenever I'm writing. Leafing through a well-appointed dictionary is one of life's pleasures, and it has the additional advantage of being available when computers and internet are not available. Sometimes old tech is the best.

My current dictionary is Webster's Unabridged Dictionary of the English Language, RHR Press, copyright 2001. IMO, if it's not unabridged, it's not a dictionary.

Peg McGuire said...

New Oxford American Dictionary user here. Got it as a gift and I love it. Some dictionaries have flimsy paper. This sucker has good paper--you can flip and flip and not worry about ripping through some precious words.

Margaret Yang said...

I also use the Webster's Collegiate. It's basic. It works.

Susan Adrian said...

Oddly, I have the exact same edition you're shedding.

I'm not getting rid of mine, though--my grandpa gave it to me!

Lauren said...

Janet, I have several dictionaries but recommend (since you won't get the OED) the Shorter OED or Webster's Unabridged.

Check here for a list of ERH's current dictionaries. DIctionary prices cause me to seek out discounts, and this place is great: http://www.edwardrhamilton.com/subject2/dix.html

Lauren said...

Oh, dang, pressed the Send button too early. I also wanted to add that my thesaurus, The Synonym FInder by Rodale, a nice hardcover that I've had from the same era as you've had your dictionary (1972) looks even worse than yours. Not only is the spine entirely gone, but the covers are both separate. Nevertheless, I won't give it up. This is the best reference book I have along with the dictionaries.

BJ said...

Mine won't help you, I'm afraid. Since Canadian spelling is based on the Oxford Dictionary of Canadian English, I have a copy of that. But it's huge, expensive and Canadian, so definitely not what your looking for.

My suggestion is to get a new edition of the one you're retiring - Websters is still around, isn't it? It probably won't be much different than the one you've been using (except for a lot of newer words) and familiarity with one's dictionary is useful. Not all dictionaries use the same conventions.

Indigo said...

Mine is this thick paperback version, that does the trick time after time (I'm another one of those don't give me a CD Rom or website people). It's the Merriam Webster's Dictionary AND Thesaurus combined. It's based on the Collegiate Dictionary of that same name. It's easy to handle and keep on stand-by. It's alot for your
$9. *winks*...(Hugs)Indigo

Eric said...

The New Oxford American is also available for Kindle, so, if you can figure out the really dumb interface for looking up stuff on your Kindle, you can have it with you all the time - as well as in hardback wherever your want to lug it.

sharigreen said...

Well I'm of no help because I've got the same 1975 dictionary! The spine on mine still has some life left in it, though. I do have a newer dictionary, but it's the Gage Canadian Dictionary, with all those extra Us sprinkled everywhere, so not likely what you're looking for. ;) Most of all, I use dictionary.com. So yeah, no help from me....

garridon said...

Seconding Oxford Dictionary. I like the format--it's easy to read.

A dictionary story for you. At work, my boss has this ginormous dictionary--one of those ones you need a stand for. I think it's about four inches thick. It sits on a table, but they moved it to put Christmas decorations up. When the Christmas decorations came down, they discovered that they had lost this dictionary. It's not like the office is messy and it's buried under something. It's simply gone. No one knows what happened to it. Dictionary elves perhaps?

Merry Monteleone said...

I have Webster's New World Dictionary and Thesaurus. I like this one because it's not only widely inclusive, but it has the definitions on the top half and thesaurus on the bottum, so everything you need to know about that word is right there on the same page.

Chris Johnson said...

I like the shorter OED -- it's 2 volumes, though. I think the best single volume is the American Heritage.

Pati Nagle said...

I like the American Heritage Dictionary.

Yasmine Galenorn said...

Webster's Third New International Dictionary, Unabridged

http://tinyurl.com/d6hvhg

I love this book. It isn't very portable, it's heavy as hell, and offers just about any word you can think of.

Yasmine

Jessica Milne said...

=/ I usually stick to looking words up online. But codswallop sounded too interesting to pass up so I looked it up. :) And now I have a lemonade craving...

Mary Connealy said...

That is odd almost beyond believing because...I write Christian fiction and my editor and I had a long, detailed discussion about whether or not codswallop was a cuss word.
Neither of us knew, but we feared, if it was, SOMEONE would know.

I can't remember what we decided.

Southern Writer said...

Mine is the Concise Oxford from 1976, and is in similar shape to yours. A nice wide strip of clear packing tape holds it together.

My Roget's Thesaurus of Words and Phrases was printed in 1941; it's practically a dinosaurus, and I'm happy to report it's much older than I.

Haste yee back ;-) said...

Did you find a definition for Codswallop and Brouhaha?

Brouhaha, to me, was just another word for a "dust up," or "Big doin's" like a fight or party, or some special event out of the ordinary life of the community. Use in sentence. "Yeah, Bubba, Friday night at the Drunk and Disorderly, Leon Fetters new band laid it down and free beer split everwhere... turned into a right big brouhaha, should'a saddled on over!

Codswallop... I'll give my opinion if you haven't found a definition yet... think, Old English, Cod pieces for men!

P.S. I don't think I'm makin' this up.

Haste yee back ;-)

Holloway McCandless said...

I'm attached to my American Heritage 4th ed. with color pix and 2 columns. But if I were buying now I'd get the New Oxford American Dictionary. Check out NOAD review by "Seven Octaves"' on the Amazon page (Eric posted the link). NOAD wins by a few important whiskers, including dated etymology and phraseology. I also agree with Lauren on the indispensability of the Rodale Synonym Finder, which functions as a dictionary-by-association. Wish I had the hardback!

Sha'el, Princess of Pixies said...

There are good online dictionaries.

However, two hard covers should be on your shelf: 1. Websters New World Dictionary; 2. The two volume micro print edition of the OED. (See your favorite used/antiquarian dealer for the OED).

Sha'el, Princess of Pixies said...

RE: Old Bibles and such

Oh, I love old Bibles, though what I really accumulate is unusual translations and Greek and Hebrew texts.

I don't have one favorite. I have a really interesting small leather King James from 1864. It has a flap that encloses the text block. Very interesting.

I have a family Bible that crossed the plains in 1854. It's mended (done by my g. g. g. gramma)and favorite passages are marked with needle and thread.

I have a very nice Latin text from 1588 with wood cut illustrations.

One of my favorites though is a Bible printed in Scotland in three volumes. I only own volume one, Genesis through Psalms. I love this ratty old Bible. It has the original owner's name. When I got it, I spent several days brushing out fossilized crumbs. Someone read it at the dinner table.

I have a Luther translation from 1669, the Nuremburg printing with all the block prints ... about one to a page. The binding is shot, and I can't afford a restoration right now. But it is fun.

Brigid said...

Personally, I'm fond of Merriam-Webster's abridged.
You might want to think about getting a pocket-sized electronic dictionary, too/instead. Saves a little time when you type in the word instead of flipping through pages (and getting distracted along the way, if you're like me).
Also, I'm pretty sure I once saw a pen-dictionary, so you'd scan a word and it'd display the defs on the side of the fat pen.

Also, you want The Thinker's Thesaurus. It has all sorts of niftier synonyms for normal words. For example, you could say "working girl", or you could say "grisette", meaning an employed girl--but coming from the french word for the greyish shade of the dresses the working girls wore.

Good luck!

pdtoler said...

For words like brouhaha, I rely on my 1929 Funk & Wagnalls Unabridged, picked up from the free box at my local used bookstore. (what 60's child could resist the chance to "look it up in your Funk & Wagnalls"?

For anything post-Depression, my American Heritage is an arm's length away.

Southern Writer said...

Sha'el, Princess of Pixies said...

RE: Old Bibles and such

Oh, I love old Bibles, though what I really accumulate is unusual translations and Greek and Hebrew texts.


Sha'el, I think you would like my Strong's Exhaustive Concordance of the Bible "showing every word of the text of the common English version of the Canonical books, and every occurrence of each word in regular order; together with Dictionaries of the Hebrew and Greek Words of the original, with references to the English words"? It was published by MacDonald Publishing Company in McLean, Virginia, but has no copyright date. I don't think it's all that old, but it's leather-bound and also came in a protective box/case sort of thing. I picked it up at a used book store in Colorado about 25 years ago, give or take. Wish I could share it with you.

Jonathan E. Quist said...

I can't help but wonder - aren't there searchable dictionaries available for the Kindle?

I love the convenience of the online dictionaries, but more often than not, I find myself cross-checking between several because I don't trust the first. It would be faster to thumb through my wife's Concise Oxford. At the time she bought it, they were offering a free Palm Pilot version, which is handy.

nightsmusic said...

Cosdwallop:

http://www.thefreedictionary.com/dict.asp?Word=codswallop


And both Strong's and Vine's can be found/used online now rather than shelling out the big bucks they used to be, or you can go to Christianbook.com for any number of versions of either of those. :)

And my bible was handed down by my great grandmother (Scots through and through) from 1858 :) It might be falling apart, but I treasure it.

Sha'el, Princess of Pixies said...

Dear Southern,

I have a Strongs, but it's cloth and not leather bound. I also have a Young's Concordance, the 1881 edition signed by one of the contributors. It was an ebay find. Very cool.

Dictionary choice:

Webster's New World excels because of the word origins feature. It's definitions are very clear.

BJ said...

Curious as to what Janet has actually chosen...