In learning the meaning of words small dictionaries are very often a greater liability than they are a help.
The meanings they give are often circular:Like „CAT: An Animal. “ „ANIMAL: A Cat. “ They do not give enough meaning to escape the circle.
The meanings given are often inadequate to get a real concept of the word.
The words are too few and even common words are often missing.
Huge dictionaries can also be confusing as the words they use to define are often too big or too rare and make one chase through 20 new words to get the meaning of the original.
HCOB 13 Feb 81 Dictionaries contains considerable data on the subject of dictionaries and their use. There is no one dictionary that is perfect for all; on the contrary, each person must find a dictionary that is the correct gradient for him.
Following are the dictionaries recommended in HCOB 13 Feb 81, Word Clearing Series 67, Dictionaries as being the best dictionaries available. From these one should be able to find a dictionary that suits him.
WEBSTER’S NEW WORLD DICTIONARY FOR YOUNG READERS, published by William Collins, is a very good simple American dictionary. It does not contain derivations, but is very good for those students who do not have a large vocabulary. (When using this dictionary the student would look up the derivations in a larger dictionary.)
The OXFORD AMERICAN DICTIONARY is an excellent dictionary. It has very good definitions and is simpler than the college-sized dictionaries listed below. It does not contain derivations. It is published in paperback by Avon Books, a division of the Hearst Corporation, 959 Eighth Ave. , New York, New York and in hardback by Oxford University Press, New York.
There are two American college dictionaries recommended:
THE RANDOM HOUSE COLLEGE DICTIONARY REVISED EDITION published in the U.S. by Random House Inc. , New York and in Canada by Random House of Canada Limited, Toronto and WEBSTER’S NEW WORLD DICTIONARY OF THE AMERICAN LANGUAGE COLLEGE EDITION published by Simon and Schuster, New York. These are both one-volume dictionaries and are higher gradients than the beginning dictionaries. A person with a limited vocabulary may find the definitions too complicated. These two dictionaries do give good derivations.
One of the best American dictionaries is the FUNK AND WAGNALLS NEW COMPREHENSIVE DICTIONARY OF THE ENGLISH LANGUAGE INTERNATIONAL EDITION. This dictionary is published by Publishers International Press in New York City at 9 Madison Ave. and in Los Angeles at 1543 West Olympic Blvd. , 90015. This is a two-volume set and is one of the best American dictionaries you’ll find.
The CHAMBERS TWENTIETH CENTURY DICTIONARY (printed in Edinburgh, Scotland) is a good English dictionary. The definitions are quite thorough but few examples are given. It is suitable for fairly literate students.
The two-volume set published by the Oxford University Press called THE SHORTER OXFORD ENGLISH DICTIONARY is an excellent dictionary, especially for the English. This dictionary is based on THE OXFORD ENGLISH DICTIONARY, which is the largest and most comprehensive English dictionary in existence. Although many students will not use THE OXFORD ENGLISH DICTIONARY as their only dictionary (as it is quite large, comprising over 12 volumes), it is an invaluable reference dictionary and is sometimes the only dictionary that correctly defines a particular word.
The Oxford University Press also puts out a smaller Oxford dictionary called THE CONCISE OXFORD DICTIONARY. It is a one-volume dictionary and uses a lot of abbreviations in its definitions. The definitions are very good and it gives good derivations.
I have found these dictionaries listed above to be better than most. (And they aren’t determined on a course of propaganda to re-educate the pubic unlike Merriam Websters and World Book dictionaries.)
Little pocket book dictionaries may have their uses for traveling and reading newspapers, but they do get people in trouble. I have seen people find a word in them and then look around in total confusion. For the dinky dictionary did not give the full meaning or the second meaning they really needed.
So the dinky dictionary may fit in your pocket but not in your mind.