Descriptionary: A Thematic Dictionary

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9780816024872: Descriptionary: A Thematic Dictionary
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Praise for the previous editions:
"Recommended."—Choice

"...an enjoyable and worthwhile reference book."—School Library Journal

"Descriptionary is an interesting, unique, and useful work..."—Booklist

"Most dictionaries and thesaureses are not designed to assist users who know subjects or definitions and seek corresponding words or terms, but this work is different...[a] fascinating resource..."—Library Journal

"An ingenious combination of reverse dictionary and thesaurus."—Reference & Research News

Helping writers, students, researchers, and general readers when they're left scrambling for words, this thematic dictionary picks up where other references leave off. Completely updated, Descriptionary, Third Edition is an invaluable resource for those looking for a descriptive or technical term, or for those who know the subject or meaning but not the specific word.

This easy-to-use third edition contains thousands of descriptions of terms organized into more than 20 subject categories. Alphabetized definitions of related words are broken down into subjects and subheadings, making it easy for readers to find the words they need. This indispensable resource contains an expanded and updated section on technology, including computers and the Internet, as well as many new sections.

New sections include:

  • British terms
  • Cocktails
  • Cooking
  • Furniture
  • Internet chatting
  • Organized crime
  • Physics
  • Sexuality
  • Skateboarding
  • Street slang
  • Yoga.

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Review:

The subtitle of Descriptionary says it's "the book for when you know what it is, but not what it's called." Pretty useful, eh? But that description is also a bit limiting, as this handy reference guide can be just as easily used as a standard dictionary when you do know what the word is. Rather than the alphabetical arrangement found in dictionaries and thesauruses, the words here are grouped according to general categories, such as animal and insects, food and drink, the human body and mind, and occupations. Within these broad areas are subheadings--"environment" has been divided into 30 categories ranging from atmosphere to wind. The word listings in these short sections are alphabetical, and while each has a straightforward explanation, you won't find alternative spellings, a pronunciation guide, or any of those dictionary-standard accompaniments to the definition.

So why use this instead of a standard dictionary? Mainly, in order to take advantage of the unusual word arrangement, as it can operate most efficiently when you're writing a paper about a specific topic. Civics students looking up "malfeasance" will find on the same page a variety of words that may spark new ideas and instantly increase practical vocabulary, as any words that catch your eye will be closely related to the topic at hand. Also great for students is the "1,050 Words and Expressions You Should Know" chapter--from "ad hoc" to "zealous," it covers words used regularly in magazines, newspapers, and textbooks. Adults learning a new skill or deciphering current events will find that the sections function nicely as a glossary; the sections on sports, politics, gardening, and cooking are especially helpful in this manner. --Jill Lightner

From the Inside Flap:

e's a reference book that works the way the mind works, allowing students to locate that elusive word to the specific thing, e.g., What do you call that belt for a tuxedo? Answer: Cummerbund. "This book is one of those small wonders...Highly recommended." -- THE BOOK REPORT.

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