Sunday, June 04, 2006

The Collins English Dictionary

The importance of having a dictionary to hand cannot be underestimated. It is true that those who sit at home eating TV dinners and watching Big Brother may have little use for one, and when they do read, they merely pass over the words they do not understand, leaving their vocabulary stagnant.

The more discerning individual, if not out at dinner or a function, will be more likely listening to Radio 3 and reading a book than watching television. While using a web-based dictionary is fine when sitting in front of a computer at work, a printed dictionary is more convenient when sitting in an armchair or tucked into one’s bed.

There is little point in getting a very abridged, small dictionary because you will already know all the words it contains. Yet something with more than one or two volumes can be too cumbersome. I recommended the Collins English Dictionary. The eighth edition was published this year and is a single-volume hardback. For the first time contains colour inside (blue for the words being defined, black for the definitions). The typefaces used (Collins Fedra Sans and Fedra Serif) are the most attractive of any dictionary.

In terms of the substance, there is little difference between the Collins and The Oxford Dictionary of English, but the Collins dictionary is more aesthetically pleasing. Both The Penguin English Dictionary and The Chambers Dictionary are good dictionaries, but it is worth bearing in mind that the Penguin contains fewer words than the others mentioned here (though it is less expensive) and the definitions of the Chambers Dictionary are less clearly laid out than in the other dictionaries.

For dictionary reviews, visit Word Wide Words.


At 2:41 pm, Anonymous Anonymous said...

"The importance of having a dictionary to hand cannot be underestimated." Perhaps you meant to say that it should not be underestimated, or that it cannot be overestimated. Indeed, using a dictionary to look up underestimated may be worth your while.


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