*Starred Review* Recently there has been publicity about young lexicographers and their work with major American dictionaries. Erin McKean, 34, is the editor of the second edition of The New Oxford American Dictionary
(NOAD) and continues the tradition of publishing a well-researched and current source of U.S. English. The first edition, with different editors, was published in 2001. What has changed in four years?
Words, of course, have been added and deleted. There are more than 2,000 new entries. Google and weblog are now in, information superhighway is out. The type appears larger, and a line or two has been added to the brief country histories to bring them up to date. Another addition is the useful feature "The Right Word," which discusses synonyms. An example is the entry for attack, which, in addition to a half-column definition, has another half-column discussing the differences in meanings for the synonyms assault, besiege, charge, molest, and storm, among others. The first edition was criticized for not having a pronunciation key on every page, something the new edition remedies. The lists of U.S. presidents and states, tables of weights and measures, and most other features of the ready-reference section remain, but the lists of members of selected halls of fames have been dropped in favor of a "Language Guide," which includes commonly misspelled words and redundant expressions.
Definitions continue to be organized around the "core" meanings--that is, "the one that represents the most literal use that the word has in ordinary modern American usage." Similar to other current dictionaries, biographical, proper, and place-names are included--al Qaeda; Botox; 9/11; Rice, Condoleezza; Splenda; and Sunni Triangle are new additions to NOAD. Black-and-white photographs and line drawings are still interspersed in the text, with the entry for novelist Nadine Gordimer now having a photo. Julia Child's and Ronald Reagan's deaths in 2004 are noted.
NOAD is more current than its closest rival in size, the fourth edition of the American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language (2000). For any library that did not purchase the first edition of NOAD, or wants to keep its dictionary collection up to date, this is a buy. Christine Bulson
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"It runs more than 2,000 pages and weighs upward of 800 pounds, so will need one forklift or three sumo wrestlers to hoist it, but you will love this gorilla once you get to know it."--James Kilpatrick, "Writers Life"
"Includes some unique and useful extras."--School Library Journal Curriculum Connections
"NOAD is an eminently usable dictionary with an attractive layout; clear, crisp illustrations; usage guidance; and synonyms with connotations. Sure to be everyone's favorite dictionary! Summing up: Essential."--Choice
"More current than its closest rival in size....This is a 'buy.'"--Booklist STARRED REVIEW
"Erudite, accessible....If you're looking for a desk dictionary that covers the spectrum of American English, with a fair quantity of encyclopaedic information thrown in, you could do a lot worse." --World Wide Words
"Ms. McKean had been dubbed "America's lexicographical sweetheart" by National Public Rasio's program "Talk of the Nation.""--The New York Times
Reviews for the previous edition: "The gold standard of American dictionaries."--The Providence Journal
"With its unique approach to language, this is easy to use and provides clear, well-written definitions. "--Library Journal.
"Oxford has always been so good at dictionaries, and lexicographical publishing needs a boost after Random House suddenly abandoned the field.... I'd give the New Oxford American Dictionary to a person looking for a quick answer."--William Safire, The New York Times.
"In both definitions and pronounciations the dictionary emphasizes American English.... This is a useful quick-reference type of dictionary."--Houston Chronicle