Merriam-Webster's Collegiate Dictionary, Deluxe Edition

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9780877797142: Merriam-Webster's Collegiate Dictionary, Deluxe Edition
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Features concise definitions, pronunciations, illustrations, tables, cross-references, examples of contemporary word use, and synonyms

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Review:

Not everyone needs a dictionary that's heavier than a Thanksgiving turkey and a vocabulary of 450,000 words. The Collegiate Dictionary, a mere 3.5 pounds, is an excellent compromise, with clear definitions and brief etymologies. Few students and professionals will want for words not covered within its 1500-plus pages. Biographical and geographical names are relegated to the index, which also includes a "Handbook of Style." A fine up-to-date starter dictionary (copyright 1996), it's small enough for a student's desk, and comprehensive enough to maintain Merriam-Webster's standards.

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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