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Random House Webster's Word Menu Mass Market Paperback – Jun 29 1997

4.8 out of 5 stars 10 customer reviews

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Product Details

  • Mass Market Paperback: 832 pages
  • Publisher: Ballantine Books; Revised edition edition (June 29 1997)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0345414411
  • ISBN-13: 978-0345414410
  • Product Dimensions: 10.6 x 3.4 x 17.4 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 386 g
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars 10 customer reviews
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #468,462 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Product Description

From Library Journal

Part thesaurus, part dictionary, part glossary, part vocabulary builder, part logophile's delight, this unique wordbook can be used productively for both quick reference and browsing. The book, which first appeared as a software product for PCs under the title Inside Information (Microlytics, 1990), classifies approximately 65,000 words into seven general categories (Nature, Science and Technology, Domestic Life, Arts and Leisure, etc.), which in turn are divided into numerous subcategories and sub-subcategories. Under Eating, for instance, a major subdivision of Domestic Life, the user finds several headings, including Foods, Cooking and Cuisine, and Eating Verbs; under the last heading, such terms as bolt , chew , chow down , devour , engorge , inhale , masticate , pig out , and quaff are briefly defined. A detailed table of contents provides access to the classification scheme and an A-Z index lists all words included in the book. Sometimes the Word Menu fails. Just two examples: superlatives such as best, first-class, outstanding, topnotch, and world class are not included, nor is amniocentesis found under Pregnancy and Birth. Notwithstanding its limitations, this book is enthusiastically recommended for all libraries, even the smallest. Glazier, a brilliant amateur lexicographer who died in early 1992 at age 44, has created the first bona fide classification of the English language since the 19th century, when Peter Mark Roget, another talented amateur, made a lasting name for himself.
- Ken Kister, author of "Best Encyclopedias," Tampa, Fla.
Copyright 1992 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.


"Stephen Glazier. . . was a modern Roget."
--William Safire, The New York Times

From the Trade Paperback edition.

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Customer Reviews

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Top Customer Reviews

This is the book to use if you don't know the name for an object but know the general category to which it belongs.
The idea behind this book is to group words into menus just like computer commands are grouped into menus. Glazier implemented this basic idea fairly well when he arranged this book.
The book is split into seven parts (Nature, Science and Technology, Domestic Life, Institutions, Arts and Leisure, Language, and The Human Condition). Each of the parts, in turn, is split into three or four chapters (a total of 25 chapters in all). Each chapter contains one or two levels of subject categories. The words contained in each subject category are listed in alphabetical order.
For example, you need to know the name for a phobia. Look up Part 3 - Institutions, Chapter 13 - Social Sciences, Psychology, Phobias. You can then skim the alphabetical list of phobias for the phobia you're looking for.
While this book is useful, I found it to be very entertaining as well. Flipping through its pages is like going through a linguistic museum of curiousities. (Just reflect on what words you may find under the subject category "Insults, Slurs, and Epithets", and you may get an idea of what I mean.) It is perfect for people who think that vocabulary study is boring.
Two things to consider, though.
1. To get full use out of the book, you must have a feel for how the book is organized. The learning curve is slight, but it is there.
2. Because you are required by the book's format to scan through lists of words, this book was formatted to make it easy to scan. This means that the definitions are sketchy and and there is no pronunciation guide. This is OK so long as you have an excellent dictionary to fill in the gaps left by the Word Menu.
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Excellent and UNIQUE resource, better than most thesauri because it contains glossaries of common terminology in many fields. Take "Dance." Here you will find a list of many different kinds and styles of dance (square dance, line dance, pas de deux, pas de trois, merengue, tango, etc.) Thus, you get way more than you do with a thesaurus that simply provides synonyms for words that you must originate. From what I read in the introduction, the editor Stephen Glazier had kept these word lists for his own writing. Now, we can all write with his vocabulary lists, however they have been contributed by experts in the respective subject areas.
Occasionally, I have found a gap or missing word, e.g. I tried to find a synonym for the verb to flourish (as in brandish) but could only find the noun flourish as in a rhetoric device.
Still, this is one of the best references I have seen for writers!
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Every writer needs this book. It is not negotiable. I was lucky enough to find a hardcover copy of Word Menu about five years ago on a bargain book table, and at least once a month, I rave to my wife about how much I love it.
All true writers know that nouns and verbs are the meat of writing. This is what makes Word Menu great. The book puts words into categories like walking, hats, and ships. Suppose you know what a certain type of gun is, but you don't know the name--with Word Menu, you'll find the exact name of the thing.
I read somewhere that the author, Stephen Frazier, made this book his life's work. He is now dead, but what a legacy to leave behind! I think the next step for someone eager (or crazy) enough would be to produce a visual word menu, because often we know what an item looks like, but we don't know its name. A great, great reference tool.
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By A Customer on Feb. 6 2001
This is a great book when you know almost what you mean, but can't think of the exact word that just nails the nuance you are looking for. Organized by subject area, it's not the first place I would look to think of a word, but more as a reference. In fact in the user's guide they tell you 'The best way to become familiar with this book is to use it, especially as a quick reference for certain types of information: a list of the world's currencies; or a list of medical prefixes and suffixes; or a list of cylical events.'
They also offer the ability to look up foreign equivalents for words. It has a Table of Content, what the call Guide Words (which are like subject areas), and the index. Definitely a great reference source, if you are at least passingly familiar with the subject.
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The late author, Stephen Glazier, has left behind for posterity's children one of the most interesting and richest sources of alternate word use that I have ever read and had the honor to place on my den bookshelves. I would place it on totally even par with the different fictional Encyclopedia Galactica (Isaac Azimov), in scope and organization, though I have not read the Hari Seldon set! Excellent, rich, absorbing are perhaps unusual words to use for a simple word reference, but this is not a simple reference. It is worth it's weight in imagination and knowledge. Frank G Anderson
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