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Merriam-Webster's Concise Dictionary of English Usage [Bargain Price] [Paperback]

Inc. Merriam-Webster
3.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
List Price: CDN$ 28.95
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Book Description

Dec 4 2001
A handy guide to problems of confused or disputed usage based on the critically acclaimed Merriam-Webster's Dictionary of English Usage. Over 2,000 entries explain the background and basis of usage controversies and offer expert advice and recommendations.

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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." --Jane Steinberg

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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Most helpful customer reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars For anyone who works with words Sept. 7 2002
Format:Paperback
Merriam-Webster's Concise Dictionary Of English Usage: The Essentials Of Clear Expression is a well organized, extremely practical, "user friendly" writer's reference. More than 2,000 extensive and meticulous entries discuss the nuances in the daily uses, both historical and present, of commonly confused words in the English language. Enhanced with a multi-page bibliography, Merriam-Webster's Concise Dictionary Of English Usage is a solid and highly recommended guide for anyone who works with words as a core aspect of their career.
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2.0 out of 5 stars Definition of Concise? June 20 2002
By A Customer
Format:Paperback
I was really disappointed with this book. I like words and I enjoy etymology. The precise word can make a poignant statement when used with stiletto accuracy. But, this book is babble using quotes to describe common and contrasting usage of a word. It has all the means but no end. There is nothing concise about this book.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
Amazon.com: 4.2 out of 5 stars  6 reviews
25 of 27 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars For anyone who works with words Sept. 7 2002
By Midwest Book Review - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
Merriam-Webster's Concise Dictionary Of English Usage: The Essentials Of Clear Expression is a well organized, extremely practical, "user friendly" writer's reference. More than 2,000 extensive and meticulous entries discuss the nuances in the daily uses, both historical and present, of commonly confused words in the English language. Enhanced with a multi-page bibliography, Merriam-Webster's Concise Dictionary Of English Usage is a solid and highly recommended guide for anyone who works with words as a core aspect of their career.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Useful guide to word usage April 21 2012
By pinerat - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
I am fascinated with and by words.

Because of that, I found this book to be a useful dictionary, covering words from a/an and abbreviations to zoom, and the "problems" or differences that may arise in usage for those whose job is working with words.

There is also a short ("brief" in the words of the dictionary) history of the English language, a pronunciation guide, and a bibliography of source materials for the advice given in the body of the dictionary.
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent reference Jan. 4 2014
By Brittany Marcotte - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Much better than most style guides; this book offers historical and grammatical context about each entry that allows for a better understanding of prescribed usage than regular style guides, which don't offer much more in explanation than "don't do it because it's wrong".
5.0 out of 5 stars DEEP EXPLANATION OF ENGLISH March 26 2013
By Joseph M. - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
IT GOES DEEP INTO THE ENGLISH LANGUAGE.
I WOULD RECOMMEND THIS BOOK TO A STUDENT WHO PLANS ON TEACHING ENGLISH LATER.
0 of 13 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Merriam-Webster's Concise Dictionary Large Print Edition Jan. 25 2012
By J. Hicks - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
This is a useful book. They were correct when they said, this particular dictionary does not include usage.

'Concise' is the correct word to describe this dictionary. It's not made to be every day useful, but that's what it was advertised like.

It includes lots of commonly used words from everyday, but some of the definitions are not to par with mindfulness and wisdom of the littlest child.

This dictionary, almost hints at western philosophy and law, the dark history of mankind. But it has lots of helpful and kind definitions too.

Could be re written by the littlelest child's mind so much simpler. Why haven't we published littlest children's definitions of words since their elementary days. . . Older can learn from younger .
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