I really do like dictionaries.
For example, I’m very happy with my 4th edition of the American Heritage behemoth, with the color illustrations and nicely colored head words.
But my favorite is the “Shorter” Oxford English Dictionary (two big, fat volumes). According to their marketing literature, this dictionary contains all the “vocabulary current in general English” from 1700 to 2007.
But sometimes you’re reading something older than that, and see a word you don’t know. Like if you’re reading anything by Shakespeare or Milton, or you’re reading Spenser’s Faerie Queen, or the “Authorized Version of the Bible.”
Have no fear because every single word in the works above are included and defined.
It really makes me want to read more Shakespeare, and then find a word that’s not explained in the notes. Seriously.
[Speaking of Shakespeare, I wrote in this blog that you could get a great deal on the complete works, each play in its own little book, at Amazon for 95 bucks. The same set is now on Amazon for $256.]
Now the Oxford University Press has released a two-volume new thesaurus. Another massive work, it’s the largest thesaurus in the world, and the world’s only “historical” thesaurus.
The thing is arranged so that you can either look up a word in the index (as you’d expect), or browse “by semantic category directly, and [see] words in their context of both historical development and the overall organization of meaning.”
I only occasionally use the thesaurus I have, but I do kinda want this new one.