Webster's Third New International Dictionary/Unabridged

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9780877792024: Webster's Third New International Dictionary/Unabridged

Webster's Third New International Dictionary, Unabridged, is the largest, most comprehensive American dictionary available, containing over 472,000 entries, 14,000 new words in a special Addenda Section, 3,000 illustrations, and 140,000 etymologies describing word origins. Boxed hardcover, buckram binding, thumb-notched. The enclosed WIN/MAC CD-ROM includes 1000 color illustrations from Merriam-Webster's Collegiate Dictionary, Deluxe Edition. 13 search options let you find the right words to communicate effectively, research words and their histories, and even locate answers to your word puzzles and games. This powerful electronic version of America's most comprehensive dictionary installs easily onto the hard drive for instant access, and is the ideal reference tool for home, school and office. --

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Review:

If big is better, the unabridged Webster's Third New International Dictionary is among the best. Weighing 12.5 pounds and measuring 4 inches thick, its 2,662 pages define more than 450,000 words spanning "a" to "zyzzogeton," including words ("disselboom" for instance) not found in other dictionaries, plus clear definitions, comprehensive etymologies, interesting asides, literary usage quotes, and a comfortable typeface. More than 150 years of accumulated scholarship helped collect the 10,000,000 usage examples that accurately provide definitions, and $3,500,000 went into producing this impressive volume. With Webster's Third you get a lot of dictionary for your money.

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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