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The 10 Best Dictionaries  Jun 2018

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Top choice
Best Dictionaries - A Dictionary of Law (Oxford Quick Reference) Review
9 . 9
Best value
Best Dictionaries - Oxford Paperback Dictionary & Thesaurus Review
9 . 4
Best Dictionaries - Oxford School Dictionary (Oxford Dictionary) Review Oxford
9 . 2
Best Dictionaries - Collins English Dictionary and Thesaurus Boxed Set Review
8 . 7
Best Dictionaries - Electronic Dictionary White Bookmark Review If
8 . 7
Best Dictionaries - Oxford Junior Dictionary Review
8 . 4
Best Dictionaries - Collins English Dictionary Review
8 . 1
Best Dictionaries - Oxford English Dictionary Review
7 . 6
Best Dictionaries - Paperback Oxford Large Print Dictionary Review
7 . 5
Best Dictionaries - Collins English Dictionary and Thesaurus Set - NEW Review
7 . 1

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Your Guide To Buying a Dictionary

By Yehudah Posnick

    If you are interested in buying a dictionary, you can find dictionaries on a variety of levels, and for several purposes. There are dictionaries for pure reference, containing hundreds of thousands of entries, with word roots and examples of use. Then there are student dictionaries, which are more manageable, and ideal for a young pupil getting accustomed to using a dictionary. But of course a dictionary for a elementary school pupil has to be different than one for the intermediate grades or high school. Finally, there are specialized dictionaries, that provide the terminology for a particular field. Some dictionaries come with a CD, to allow you to search for definitions by means of a computer.

    We've put together this guide to help you select the dictionary that answers to your needs. It'll help you:

    • Choose the right type of dictionary,

    • See useful tips about that type of dictionary,    

    • Read reviews of different brands of dictionary, and what customers are saying,

    • Select the right brand of dictionary, and

    • Compare prices and find the best deals.

    • Reference Dictionaries: These can either be enormous tomes that will become a semi-permanent fixture on your desk, or convenient pocket dictionaries, that will try to cram the most information in a small, portable edition.

    • Student Dictionaries: These will be divided into elementary dictionaries (for grades K-6) and intermediate dictionaries (for grades 6-9), and collegiate. They will typically feature illustrations and photographs as well as concise definitions.The Merriam-Webster's Elementary Dictionary contains quotes from classic and contemporary children's literature, to illustrate how the word should be used. There are also 900 illustrations, 250 word histories, and 130 synonym paragraphs.

    • Specialized Dictionaries: These will define terms that are used in a particular field: business, medicine, law, computers, etc. An example of this is the Merriam-Webster Medical Desk Dictionary, with brief definitions of medical terms for the layman. DK’s Ultimate Visual Dictionary, despite being an illustrated dictionary, illustrates technical terminology in a number of scientific fields, geared for an adult audience.

    • Bilingual Dictionaries: These are for someone learning a foreign language. Ideally, they should go in both directions: from English to the foreign language in one half, and from the foreign language to English in the other half. This lets the student check that the usage is correct.

    Based on all the consumers' reviews we've scanned, these are the top things they mentioned about their new stuff:

    • Font size: The size of the print is important even in a reference book—it's worth taking it into consideration. Big print will be easier to search and easier to find.

    • Disappointment with pocket dictionaries: The Webster’s New World Pocket Dictionary tends to disappoint people: Since it only has 35000 entries, people who already have a good vocabulary typically won’t find entries for the more obscure words.

    • Right type of children’s dictionary: Customers pointed out that the DK My First Dictionary is especially good for children just starting to read. Since there’s no point defining a word if the child can’t read the definition, every word entry is illustrated with a picture. It thus becomes the stepping stone to starting to develop a vocabulary. It is also ideal for students learning English as a second language.

    • Number of entries: Generally, you'll assume that the bigger a reference book is, the more comprehensive it is. The Webster’s New World College Dictionary has over 160,000 entries, including 5,000 new entries of modern-day words and Americanisms (“bromance”, “frenemy”, etc.).

    • Prescriptive versus descriptive dictionaries: The American Heritage Dictionary was the first to point out the differences between how a word should be used (a “prescriptive” dictionary), and how the word is used in practice (a “descriptive” dictionary). It gives examples of use in each case. It has quotes from modern-day authors, which can indicate what is the proper usage of a word.

    • In CD format as well: Some dictionaries come in CD format as well, to allow you to search for words on your computer. The Merriam Webster Medical Desk Dictionary is on a CD which you put into your computer. Besides helping you find medical terms and their definitions, it also pronounces them for you (which is especially helpful in long, technical medical terminology).

    Merriam-Webster--is a publisher or reference books: dictionaries, thesauruses, and more. They were founded in 1831 by George and Charles Merriam in Springfield, Massachusetts, and they purchased the rights to Noah Webster's dictionary in 1843--hence the name "Merriam-Webster". They make a elementary, intermediate, and collegiate-level dictionaries.

    Oxford English Dictionary--was first published in 1884. They are considered the authority on the English language, tracking the meaning, history, and pronunciation of words in the English language. The full dictionary consists of over 300,000 entries, in 20 volumes. They publish several versions of learner’s dictionaries, picture dictionaries, and more.

    DK --was founded in 1974 in London. They are publishers of illustrated reference books, having dictionaries in 62 languages. They have dictionaries for toddlers, children (“DK Children”), and adults. DK is also the parent company for Alpha Books.

    American Heritage Student Dictionary--is published by Houghton-Mifflin-Harcourt. It was first published in Boston in 1969. It was innovative in that it introduced using photographic illustrations for the words. It also makes note of how each word should be used, and how it is used in practice.