Since the last edition nine years ago, 7,500 words have been added, including 9/11, alphabetized according to the spelling of the first number. A touted feature is the occasional highlighted usage note (300 in all); for example, under critique, we find that the word is considered (by 41% of the usage panel of 200 scholars and writers) as "pretentious jargon." Typical line-drawing illustrations have been replaced, primarily by photos, and a pronunciation key appears on every other page. A 33-page revised appendix on Indo- European and Indo-European roots is of particular interest. The dictionary is thumb-indexed, and every page provides headers with the first and last words on the page. A weakness is the lack of the approximate or exact year the defined word entered the language. Annotation c. Book News, Inc., Portland, OR
Dictionaries run the gamut from the extremely specialized, such as the Oxford English Dictionary, to picture books designed for young readers. This one falls in the huge middle ground of general-interest, all-purpose dictionaries. Substantially revised and expanded after nine years, with 7500 new words and thousands of updated definitions in all areas, the current edition is made particularly relevant by the inclusion of many terms for Internet or computer-related topics, for example, as well as terms related to the September 11 attacks including "9/11" itself. The editors, who are affiliated with Houghton's reference division, also responsible for the longstanding The American HeritageR Dictionary of the English Language, provide lucid definitions of terms as well as biographical information on prominent people from a wide assortment of fields (e.g., science, business, politics, and the arts). They have also updated data on U.S. cities and states with population statistics from the 2000 census and have added over 2500 photographs and handy black-and-white illustrations, such as diagrams, charts, and outline maps of countries throughout the world. Quirks do appear: there is no definition of "free jazz," for example, despite coverage of other major jazz genres such as Dixieland, fusion, bop/bebop, hot and cool jazz, and swing. In such cases, a specialized topical dictionary is needed. Also, users should retain older dictionaries to locate terms cut from the current edition or to see how words change over time. Finally, although etymologies are given for many words, as are notes on language use and synonyms, a good thesaurus is still needed to help users find comparable words. These minor drawbacks aside, this still makes for a fine general-interest dictionary that continues the strengths of its predecessor and is sure to be of use in any library. William Kenz, Minnesota State Univ., Moorhead Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information.