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  1. #1
    Copy-editor's Avatar
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    Default Which American Dictionary?

    Hello,

    Would some folk please recommend an American-English dictionary? Which one do teachers of US-English use?

    For UK-English it's necessary to have Collins and Oxford dictionaries to cover most spelling variations. Is there one dictionary that all Americans defer to?

    Cheers!

  2. #2
    Rover_KE is offline Moderator
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    Default Re: Which American Dictionary?

    I'm guessing it's Merriam-Webster, but I stand to be corrected.

    Rover

  3. #3
    Copy-editor's Avatar
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    Default Re: Which American Dictionary?

    Thanks for the reply.

    I used to use MW online, but I've found too many errors recently and those videos have started to annoy me. I want to buy a hardback American dictionary. American Heritage? What do American students and teachers prefer?

  4. #4
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    Default Re: Which American Dictionary?

    Quote Originally Posted by Copy-editor View Post
    Thanks for the reply.

    I used to use MW online, but I've found too many errors recently and those videos have started to annoy me. I want to buy a hardback American dictionary. American Heritage? What do American students and teachers prefer?
    Are the pronunciation symbols a factor? M-W does not use IPA.

  5. #5
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    Default Re: Which American Dictionary?

    Pronunciation would be a bonus. However, the primary objective is to locate a consistent, reliable, and authoritative source to mention should I need to explain a spelling correction in US-English copy.

  6. #6
    thatone is offline Member
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    Default Re: Which American Dictionary?

    M-W is widely regarded as the best American dictionary, and I fully agree.
    What kind of "errors" have you found?

  7. #7
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    Default Re: Which American Dictionary?

    I'm curious about that too. I use Dictionary and Thesaurus - Merriam-Webster Online all the time. Daily. I've never even noticed that there are videos on the site.
    I'm not a teacher, but I write for a living. Please don't ask me about 2nd conditionals, but I'm a safe bet for what reads well in (American) English.

  8. #8
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    Default Re: Which American Dictionary?

    The American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language is the biggest I have ever seen.

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    Default Re: Which American Dictionary?

    Quote Originally Posted by Offroad View Post
    The American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language is the biggest I have ever seen.
    Is it any good?

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    thatone is offline Member
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    Default Re: Which American Dictionary?

    American Heritage (AH) is one of the major American dictionaries, the other being of course MW (there's also Webster's New Collegiate, but it's very similar to MW). It's quite big because it has a lot of pictures, it's kinda like an encyclopedia.

    The main difference between AH and MW (Collegiate) is that the first is prescriptive and the second (very) descriptive. This applies to :

    1.Pronunciations, where AH largely ignores secondary/dialectal pronunciations, whereas Merriam Webster just goes on and includes everything (Think of "nuclear" pronounced "nucular," you can find that variant only in Merriam Webster)

    Example, take a look at the pronunciation of the word "didn't" in AH and then MW. Also the word "particularly" AH, MW.

    Note: MW's Third New International goes even further, and includes even more dialectal pronunciations, as in the word
    "bag" /'bag, -aa(ə)g, -aig/ where the second pronunciation can be found in the Inland North Dialect. I think that the Collegiate dictionary does, however, mention that in the introduction.

    2.Definitions, where AH has a panel of language "experts" and gives you what percentage of them considers a particular usage acceptable, whereas M-W is much more lenient, with things like "some critics object...".

    Example "fortuitous", AH and MW.

    Besides this, AH's definitions are more "average joe"-oriented, whereas M-W's try to be very exact, and therefore can end up being more complicated (maybe that's why MW has been used in court). An example is the word "coy" in AH and MW

    To try out more words on your own:

    American Heritage and Webster's New Collegiate
    Merriam Webster

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