on February 6, 2004
Nota Bene: it's "Merriam-Webster" and NOT just "Webster's". The latter is a very inferior knock-off.
I also own the Shorter Oxford English Dictionary, thinking that if I went high-brow it would make me a better person. The OED is actually a pretty good dictionary (unlike the awful Webster's), but it comes in two, large volumes which makes it impractical as an easy reference when reading on the couch; plus, I haven't run across any definition that I needed that was done better for the purpose of quick understanding than Merriam-Webster's Collegiate Dictionary does it. (I spent some time looking in both, believe it or not).
In addition, the computer software that comes with the 11th edition of Merriam-Webster's Collegiate Dictionary is really good; very helpful when using Word ... highlight a word and right-click to bring up the definition.
on July 7, 2004
This is a fine dictionary. It even smells good. Too hefty to be portable, it is nevertheless a perfect desk dictionary, starting with a seventeen-page explanatory chart and notes, an essay on the English language, and a guide to pronunciation. te volume continues with excellent definitions that are sometimes accompanied by b&w line drawings, and finishes with sections on foreign words & phrases, biographical names, geographical names, signs & symbols in various fields of endeavo, punctuation, capitals & italics, documenting sources, forms of address and an index. In addition there is a Win/Mac CD-ROM disk of the dictionary that features a number of search options.
This is the most comprehensive collegiate dictionary to date, with many new entries since 1996's tenth edition, and it is well organized wih a nice clean font (though it may be a bit troublesome for those who are far-sighted). It always amazes me that we can purchase so much information so inexpensively. This is a terrific resource -- it's time to update your dictionary!!
on July 10, 2003
Unlike prescriptive dictionaries such as the American Heritage Dictionary, which rely on self-appointed panels of "experts" to decide what correct usage should be, descriptive dictionaries such as this and Merriam-Webster's Third International try to keep pace with how the language is actually used by speakers. This may explain why the Webster's Collegiate dictionaries have been the standard reference in the American publishing industry for a long time.
This is easily the best dictionary of its class, period. It has an extraordinarily large number of entries and its definitions are concise and easy to understand. The only shortcoming is that there are few example sentences, but this is a necessary tradeoff to keep the size under control. For sheer richness of information it doesn't compare to the New Shorter OED, for example, but then again you can't toss the NSOED into your backpack and take it to school with you. This book is light and compact.
But the thing that really sets this dictionary apart is the CD-ROM. You can search for words using up to 15 different operations, including "rhymes with," "is a cryptogram of," "homophones are," "etymology includes," etc. You can use AND and OR operators to combine the various operations. These search functions are a tremendous asset to anybody who works with words, particularly writers, poets, and songwriters.
And did I mention that you get a free one-year subscription to their online dictionary with your purchase?
This package is a tremendous value for the money and really belongs in every home and office. And I have no doubt that Webster's 11 will continue to be the gold standard in the publishing industry for the foreseeable future.<I> --This text refers to an edition which conatins a CD-ROM. Not all editions of this item contain a CD. Please check the item desription for further information.--</I>
on September 17, 2003
The eleventh edition of the Collegiate Dictionary merges print, CD-ROM and internet formats into a single package.
The new format provides definitions to more than 10,000 new words and sense from many fields of knowledge. There are 165,000 entries and 225,000 definitions in an accessible and flexible desktop package.
There are more than 40,000 usage examples, coverage of 7,500 phrases and idioms and more than 700 illustrations. It offers word guidance by providing synonym paragraphs that differentiate between shades of meaning. Best of all, the eleventh edition comes with a free one-year subscription to Merriam-Webster's premium web site.
Everyone who works with words needs a great dictionary. This package is hard to beat.
on June 16, 2004
This edition of the M-W's Collegiate Dictionary sets a completely new high standard for American dictionaries and in fact -- for any reference book anywhere. This dictionary is everything that a good reference book should be -- self-contained, complete, easy-to-use, extremely well printed, and perfectly consistent. The abbreviations are not overused, the definitions are clear and exhaustive. Inflected forms and alternate spellings are easy to locate and identify. The usage and synonyms notes are of an enormous value for anyone who reads or writes English, and for me it clarified many meanings and different usages (i am not a native English speaker). Another great thing is that the editors treated the etimologies with due respect, so even though this dictionary is supposed to be "abridged", it is very complete. And the quality of printing is so wonderful, that i enjoy reading this dictionary just for fun.
Although it is called "Collegiate" it is useful to any person of any age and background, not just for college students. Needless to say, it never disappoints when i'm looking for words.
To put it short -- i don't have enough words of praise for this book.
on January 12, 2004
This dictionary is indispensable to anyone in the book publishing industry, but I mourn the loss of the prior CD's format and functionality. I must use this reference daily as a copy editor, and because the speed of a CD search is crucial, I'm stuck with the new version.
The format/layout is way too cumbersome, and offers no viewing options other than color and text size. I was able to shrink the Web10 program into a 3x4 inch box that resided permanently on my computer screen alongside a Google window and a style sheet document window. The new program takes up half my desktop at its smallest usable size.
The entries were much clearer in the old version, as well. Syllables used to be notated with dots, which could not be mistaken for hyphens. They are now indicated by what looks like hyphens, whereas hyphens look like en dashes. When the #1 reason you're looking words up is to verify things like hyphenated spellings, this is a big deal.
I would have liked some sort of F5=clear key, too, since the extra steps needed to enter a new word are redundant and irritating. It used to be that as soon as I hit enter, the entry was already highlighted and ready for the next entry, no extra steps or keystrokes needed. And depending on how I proceeded through the first entry, only sometimes am I able to scroll down a word list; often the list just stops or duplicates the main entry. If I want to look for variations I have to hit clear or backspace out of the word, then start over again.
Also gone is the tables list. I think the tables are still there, but you have to know that and look up a word that would then offer you the table. I learned a lot from those tables in the Web10 edition simply because curiosity led me to view them from the menu.
That this is the consummate dictionary is undisputed, and for students or anyone else who's using it as an occasional lookup tool it's unbeatable. If you're using it every day, all day, however, its functionality will fight you. I was looking forward to that day that when I could officially transform rest room into restroom, baby-sitter into babysitter, and E-mail into e-mail. Now that it's arrived, I wish I could just find a list of the changes so that I could check that list exclusively, then use my Web10 CD for the rest until Web12 comes up with a design that works for the folks who use it the most.
on September 13, 2003
Being a user of Merriam-Webster's Collegiate Dictionary for about 20 years, I am disappointed with this new edition. To be more specific, I am disappointed with the free CD-ROM came with the dictionary.
Using dictionaries for me means sitting in front of a PC monitor with fingers on keyboard. When I can find the definitions of words in less than a second, why should I waste 20 to 30 seconds in turning the pages. Accordingly, my review here focuses more on the interface of the CD-ROM dictionary than on the contents itself.
In my PC, I installed Collins Cobuild ver 3.1, Longman Dictionary of Contemporary English 4th Edition, Macmillan English Dictionary, ver 1.1, Cambridge International Dictionary of English ver 1.03, The New Penguin English Dictionary 2001, The American Heritage Dictionary 2000, Random House Webster's Unabridged Dictionary ver 3.0, Bookshelf 98, and Merriam-Webster's Collegiate Dictionary & Thesaurus, Deluxe Audio Edition ver 2.5. On another hard disk, I had an older Oxford English Dictionary on the legacy Windows NT 4.0. I have virtually all CD-ROM dictionaries available in the world. For this reason, I would say MW11 CD-ROM still has much to be desired.
There had been the MW Deluxe Audio Edition ver 2.5 installed in my PC. When I tried to install the free CD came with MW11, I was requested to remove the ver 2.5. Unfortunately, the ver 3.0 free CD is a dumb one, which ironically expelled the deluxe edition. I later tried this on another hard disk, on which ver 2.5 could be installed after ver 3.0 had been installed. Both versions could coexist harmonically. With multi-version CD-ROM dictionaries running in my PC, I can easily learn that the wonderful features with this MW11 CD-ROM mentioned by other reviewers were just old ones in most of the others.
MW might never know how fancy and user-friendly the other CD-ROM dictionaries are, how colorful the others are, and how fast the others are running. MW might never know corpus integration is now a trend in making CD-ROM dictionaries. MW might never know audio function is now a must for CD-ROM dictionaries. The free CD-ROMs came with LDOCE, MED, and RHWUD have wonderful audio function. LDOCE and MED even contain both British and American accents.
Some other awkward designs worth mentioning here are that for continuous looking up in this CD-ROM, one has to use mouse to highlight the searching box prior to a new search, which is very annoying when you are looking up a lot of words. On Cobuild, CIDE, MED, etc, you just key in work, then press Enter. Repeating this sequence, the definitions were retrieved one after one, and the searches keep going without a single move of the mouse.
For the same word, you have to toggle between dictionary and thesaurus, followed by a click on Search button to retrieve the contents in either reference. On Bookshelf 98, and Cobuild one search can retrieve all the information in each reference.
Now you see how premature the MW11 free CD-ROM is. The unabridged Webster's Third New International Dictionary share the same interface with the collegiate edition, and has been challenged by users for years. There is no need to argue about how far MW is lagging behind its competitors. MW had better thoroughly investigate the market status and redraft its roadmap. Sidney Landau has stated in his book Dictionaries, The Art and Craft of Lexicography, 2nd Edition:
Unabridged dictionaries in print will largely become a thing of the past; if produced at all in print form, they will be limited editions for collectors and libraries. Desk dictionaries, which include the American college dictionaries, will remain attractive commodities in print, as will shorter versions, but will suffer from increased competition from electronic alternatives produced by the print publishers themselves or by others whom they license.
on September 15, 2003
Merriam-Webster's Collegiate Dictionary: 11th Edition is a new and expanded dictionary of the English language. This eleventh edition features 10,000 new words from all fields of knowledge; comprises 165,000 entries; and presents a total of 225,000 definitions, including more than 40,000 usage examples, 7,500 phrases and idioms clarified, and more. An accompanying CD-ROM can be installed in Windows or a Macintosh for easy searchable access, and a free one-year subscription to premium web site Dictionary services is included. An absolutely first-rate, easy-to-use and high-quality basic resource, the Merriam-Webster's Collegiate Dictionary is a "must" for personal, professional, school, and library dictionary reference collections.
on July 13, 2003
I just got my Merriam-Webster's Collegiate Dictionary, Eleventh Edition from Amazon and am looking forward to getting to know it better. Past editions of the Collegiate have been in many ways excellent, expecially in the clear, crisp definitions and well-researched albeit brief etymologies. It appears that this edition is no exception.
My summary impression is that this is a dictionary well worth buying, perhaps the best desk dictionary one can find.
The Collegiates, including this one, have been bit quirky, especially as regards pronuncation. For example, this dictionary has a strange relationaship with the schwa sound. In previous editions thre were many apparently inadvertent switches between the schwa (last vowel sound in "circus") and the short u sound (as in "but"). In this edition, however, there are four different sounds (including the short u) that are indicated by easily confusible variants of the schwa symbol.
In addition, the "a" vowels in marry and Mary -- distinguished by many mainstream speakers of American English -- are left undifferentiated, as in previous editions.
As in previous editions, a key to pronunciation symbols is provided on each recto page. Unfortunately, this little list omits perhaps 2/3 of the list of pronunciation symbols that fill one page of the front matter (making it hard to find each time you need it).
(If I were king of Merriam-Webster, I'd put the full pronunciation key where it belongs: on the inside front or back covers, or both.)
Another frustrating aspect for most users *was* that at least in the Tenth Edition, the oldest and often least-used definition of a word was listed first, causing your search for a certain definition usually to be more work.
It *appears* that this practice has now been abandoned with the Eleventh Edition, though I haven't found any explicit reference to it in the explanatory notes. If so, this will noticeably improve the ease of using this book.
Printing-wise, it appears that the darkness of the type has deepened in the Eleventh Edition (although this may just indicate where in a given press run my copy happened to come from). This makes my 11th Ed. distinctly easier to read than my 10th Ed. In addition, the main entries are now in sans-serif type. This isn't necessarily an aesthetic improvement, but far more important is that it makes finding your word easier on the eyes.
Unfortunately, as with the previous edition, the inner margins are too narrow, forcing one to read the right side of a left-hand page and the left side of a right-hand page from paper that is curving into the crease in the middle of the book; almost nothing short of breaking the binding is likely to counteract this problem.
A personal prejudice I have (that you may not share) is that I believe a dictionary owes its readers more than just a description of how language is currently used. (Some of current usage is in my opinion poor, and a dictionary is the right place to try to stem the tide of poor usage instead of merely describing it.) The Eleventh Edition, like recent previous ones, has many Usage Notes at the end of an entry.
I find these to be by and large too permissive, giving excuses for much questionable usage (while prudently reminding the reader that if they go ahead and employ some usages that M-W deems perfectly acceptable, they may be in for some criticism).
For example, one usage note supports the use of "literally" to mean "virtually". Another usage note supports the pronunciation of "nuclear" as "nucular" (lamely trotting out the fact that it has been used that way by members of many respected professions, including U.S. members of congress and even two U.S. presidents!!!!!).
Another drawback of this book for many is the massive inclusion of technical words like chemical names, and especially the names of a huge variety of plants and animals. This is all well and good in itself, of course. But these words are in most cases useful only to specialists in those fields, and given the limited space available, must necessarily drive out other candidates for inclusion that would be useful to a far larger number of readers...
on December 27, 2003
I just got this as a gift and was pleasantly surprised to find the CD included. The paper dictionary itself is worth the price, but the CD is a real bonus. It installs easily onto your hard disk, you do not need to keep the CD in the drive, and it takes up very little space. The interface is simple, clear and friendly. It has tremendous search features, including rhyming, etymology (for example, you can find words from the Hawaiian), and others. You can double-click any word in a definition and get the definition of that word. It also has a macro system for MS Word, which I don't use so I can't speak to it but many will probably find that useful also. It is very fast at all the functions I have tried. Another reviewer pointed out that a dictionary is not particularly exciting, but this is the kind of gift that will actually be used. The book and CD together make this one of the great buys on the market today.