Merriam Webster’s Concise English Dictionary


Merriam Webster’s Concise English Dictionary
Publisher: Merriam-Webster
Publication date: 2002
Language: English
Size: 1,6 mb

Merriam-Webster’s Concise Dictionary of English Usage is a dictionary. It is not a usage guide. It is not Fowler, or Partridge, or Bernstein (nor, at 799 pages, is it exactly concise, but that’s another matter). Unlike those eminent watchdogs of the English language, the editors of this volume are record-keepers, chronicling the way language is used, not the way it should be used. Based on Merriam Webster’s Dictionary of English Usage, this book cites the classic English-language specialists generously but finds its true course by observing actual contemporary usage. Take the word discomfit, for example, the meaning of which (to thwart, foil, or frustrate) is staunchly defended in many usage guides. Sorry, says Merriam-Webster. Their survey says that the use of the word as a synonym to discomfort is so entrenched as to have become “thoroughly established” as the most prevalent meaning. Though the editors of this book are more reporters than campaigners, their prose is eminently readable, charming, and even, like that of the best usage enforcers, quirky. For instance, the word data, they claim, is a “queer fish,” while errata “leads a double life,” and yclept is “peculiar-looking.”

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