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Which dictionary is the best?

posted by Jason Kottke   Dec 11, 2003

Which dictionary is the best?.

Reader comments

dan willisDec 11, 2003 at 3:51PM

I find dictionary.reference.com jolly handy. It looks up to these dictionaries, and has a comprehesive thesaurus on the side.

I find it hard to beat when I’m working at my PC.

shaunDec 11, 2003 at 7:23PM

The Oxford American is a condensed OED. The list is of college dictionaries, which I don’t know exactly what they are, but they’
re some kind desk-sized edition.

Though I guess the OED is “desk-sized” in a certain sense of the word.

JeremiahDec 11, 2003 at 8:11PM

The Oxford American still sucks compared to the Concise Oxford. The Concise is definitely desk-sized and it also comes on CD-ROM. Also, it includes the etymologies, which I think is the most annoying omission from the Websters. And finally, one can’t say that the Concise doesn’t have American spellings—because it does. They usually come right after the Brit spellings. I know it’s not “American,” but I think the Concise should have definitely topped the list.

Ned HolbrookDec 11, 2003 at 8:33PM

The New Oxford American Dictionary (NOAD) was assembled from an electronic corpus of American sources as well as from the citations file of the OED, making it different from being just a “condensed OED” as shaun claims. The Shorter Oxford English Dictionary, 5th edition (SOED5) [review] was compiled from an electronic corpus of English sources, whereas OED2 and the Compact Oxford English Dictionary (COED) share the same set of manually-compiled definitions. The electronic corpus is a relatively modern tool in the preparation of dictionaries and is invaluable in cataloging real-life (descriptive) usage; even so, American dictionaries lag far behind their English counterparts in utilizing this important tool. Note that OED3, currently planned for 2020 or so, will also be compiled from an electronic corpus.

CheapBastardDec 11, 2003 at 8:39PM

Google makes for a nice dictionary… For example let’s says you can’t spell “pharmacetical” and you do a search on google using that spelling. You get that great did you mean “pharmaceutical?” I know this doesn’t give you the defintion, but some times you can guess the defintion by the results from the search.

dowingbaDec 11, 2003 at 11:09PM

Webster (at least the one I had) didn’t have “enquire” but it had “enquiringly”. Not good enough, Webby.

FirasDec 12, 2003 at 12:02AM

google can look up definitions on wordnet etc. if you use the ‘define:’ prefix, but it’s woefully inadequate.

Dictionary.com rocks the free on-line dictionary world. Totally.

berginDec 12, 2003 at 1:19AM

i just love the way the reviewer laid into the Microsoft Encarta College Dictionary pointing out how reviewers had spotted that “inclusion of a photo of Bill Gates but not of John F. Kennedy”

droll laugh

berginDec 12, 2003 at 1:23AM

i laugh because its so typical of a company that has more power than a small country would naturally create such progagandi within any of its “educational” products.

Jonas!Dec 12, 2003 at 9:39PM

online, m-w is quite adequate. i think oxford condensed is much better though.

drkDec 12, 2003 at 11:25PM

m-w beats dictionary.com’s ass! thesaurus.com otoh..:D

Beth RingsmuthDec 15, 2003 at 9:32AM

My history of the English language professor recommended www.m-w.com—helps with spelling, has in-depth definitions (compared to dictionary.com, which I also like). Plus, the “Spinal Tap” reference on their front page rules!

This thread is closed to new comments. Thanks to everyone who responded.