Notifications
Clear all

Good dictionary?


elitemachinery
(@elitemachinery)
Member
Joined: 11 years ago
Posts: 596
Topic starter  

Back in 1983 when I was 18 years old, my uncle gave me  a two volume condensed Oxford English dictionary. I had it for years and it was a great dictionary with the history and etymology of words. It even covered a lot of slang. I guess I gave it away at some point with all my moving around but I had it for about 20 years I think. Now i'd like to obtain a good dictionary again. I've noticed that the Internet is erasing the definition of words deemed offensive. Online dictionaries are getting thinner it seems. And I find a book like this a valuable self education tool especially when studying English writers like Crowley who often speak in terms far over my head.

Any suggestions? I'm not looking to go cheap. This is something I can save up for if I need to.

I believe this listing on Amazon is similar to what I had...copyright 1979...although I think mine was a copyright 1983 edition:

41Tw8A8bMjL. SX279 BO1,204,203,200

https://www.amazon.com/Compact-Oxford-English-Dictionary-Set/dp/019861117X/

The full version of the set is 20 volumes...wow...is it worth it? $1250 new...not cheap:

51KcgSXPcQL. SX358 BO1,204,203,200

https://www.amazon.com/Oxford-English-Dictionary-Vols-1-20/dp/0198611862/

Would I still need a book on etymology? Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated.


Quote
ignant666
(@ignant666)
Tangin
Joined: 16 years ago
Posts: 3639
 

I have that two-volume edition of the OED. It is the same as the 1933 20-volume edition, with four pages reprinted quite small on each page, and a magnifying glass to read the very tiny print. You will have to use the Supplement to get new-fangled post-1928 words like "automobile", and obviously will find no post-1933 words even in the Supplement. But the newer words will often be familiar ones. And it is very very strong on etymology.

It is a superb dictionary, and you should buy it if you want a dictionary. Because it is old, and very UK-oriented, you should supplement it with a newer, US-oriented dictionary. I recommend (and use) The American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language (also almost as good as the OED on etymology, and of course much stronger on etymology of post-1933 words since the OED has none). Available here:

https://www.amazon.com/American-Heritage-Dictionary-English-Language/dp/1328841693

There is a newer edition of the OED, but it is only in the full 20-volume edition for a bit over $1,000. If you have lots of cash, and lots of shelf space, and are certain you won't move in the near future, a possible buy, but the compact edition is really enough.

My favorite dictionary is perhaps a bit specialized: Eric Partridge's A dictionary of the underworld (i have the 1950 edition). Excellent for discovering that the latest youth slang is hundreds of years old and originally from Elizabethan thieves' cant. I also have Black's Law Dictionary, a Brazilian law dictionary, several French-English and Portuguese-English dictionaries, and a Brazilian Portuguese etymological dictionary.


ReplyQuote
elitemachinery
(@elitemachinery)
Member
Joined: 11 years ago
Posts: 596
Topic starter  
Posted by: @ignant666

I have that two-volume edition of the OED. It is the same as the 1933 20-volume edition, with four pages reprinted quite small on each page, and a magnifying glass to read the very tiny print. You will have to use the Supplement to get new-fangled post-1928 words like "automobile", and obviously will find no post-1933 words even in the Supplement. But the newer words will often be familiar ones. And it is very very strong on etymology.

Ok thanks Ignant!

This sounds like exactly what I had. Two large volumes with a magnifying glass. A great dictionary. I do seem to remember 4 pages in small type on each large page. Can you check two things for me?

Check the publication year?

Check for the George Carlin 7 words you can't say?

 I'm sure you know this but the words, in the order Carlin listed them, are: "shit", "piss", "fuck", "cunt", "cocksucker", "motherfucker", and "tits".

800px Seven Dirty Words WBAI

My OED had all of them and I was not only surprised that it did but it was a great source of entertainment as a teenager looking up those words and reading about their history.

Does your dictionary have them? Or are they in the supplement?

I think my OED was published in 1983 as part of a book club that my uncle belonged to.

I am hesitant to buy anything new as their seems to be an effort to erase words from history these days. And I doubt any modern dictionary would dare include words like "cocksucker." A word I may need to use from time to time.

It sounds like I don't need the 20 volume set as this is the same just a compact version?

Im seeing copies on abebooks for about 250 quid and some used ones even cheaper:

https://www.abebooks.co.uk/s ervlet/SearchResults?isbn=9780198611172&n=100121501&cm_sp=mbc-_-ISBN-_-new

Posted by: @ignant666

you should supplement it with a newer, US-oriented dictionary. I recommend (and use) The American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language (also almost as good as the OED on etymology, and of course much stronger on etymology of post-1933 words since the OED has none). Available here:

https://www.amazon.com/American-Heritage-Dictionary-English-Language/dp/1328841693

 

Thanks for the recommendation. I will purchase this also.

Posted by: @ignant666

Eric Partridge's A dictionary of the underworld (i have the 1950 edition).

I will look for this also. May be expensive or unavailable..we'll see. Thanks again.


ReplyQuote
ignant666
(@ignant666)
Tangin
Joined: 16 years ago
Posts: 3639
 
Posted by: @elitemachinery

"shit", "piss", "fuck", "cunt", "cocksucker", "motherfucker", and "tits".

OED: Yes, yes, no (to my considerable surprise), no, no (probably because a compound word, "cock" as penis is given), no, no as such (but does give "tit" singular for breast).

My most extensive use of the OED in some time. Maybe that 20 volume edition is worth it for the larger type with old eyes, never mind the 70+ years of words added (which probably include all the "dirty words")! As i said, what you are getting in the Compact Edition is the 1928 edition with the 1933 Supplement, regardless of '70s-'80s copyright dates (which refer to the Compact Edition being put into the "four pages to a page" new format). My copy is the same "Book Of The Month Club" version your uncle had (it was a frequent promo item with them); we used to scam them (and the record clubs) mercilessly.

American Heritage Dictionary: Yes, yes, yes, yes, yes, yes, no as such (but again does give "tit" singular for breast). 


ReplyQuote
ignant666
(@ignant666)
Tangin
Joined: 16 years ago
Posts: 3639
 

Looking into the history of printing the word "fuck", it appears Oxford University Press would have risked having their dictionary suppressed as obscene in 1928 if it had included "fuck" (and very likely cunt").

Lady Chatterly's Lover had to be published in France when it came out that year, precisely because it used those words.

Apols for double-post.


ReplyQuote
elitemachinery
(@elitemachinery)
Member
Joined: 11 years ago
Posts: 596
Topic starter  
Posted by: @ignant666
Posted by: @elitemachinery

"shit", "piss", "fuck", "cunt", "cocksucker", "motherfucker", and "tits".

OED: Yes, yes, no (to my considerable surprise), no, no (probably because a compound word, "cock" as penis is given), no, no as such (but does give "tit" singular for breast).

My most extensive use of the OED in some time. Maybe that 20 volume edition is worth it for the larger type with old eyes, never mind the 70+ years of words added (which probably include all the "dirty words")! As i said, what you are getting in the Compact Edition is the 1928 edition with the 1933 Supplement, regardless of '70s-'80s copyright dates (which refer to the Compact Edition being put into the "four pages to a page" new format). My copy is the same "Book Of The Month Club" version your uncle had (it was a frequent promo item with them); we used to scam them (and the record clubs) mercilessly.

American Heritage Dictionary: Yes, yes, yes, yes, yes, yes, no as such (but again does give "tit" singular for breast). 

Thank you for doing that. I now think I was incorrect. The OED book club two volume set (that my uncle scammed of the book club no doubt...he was notorious for ordering things books and magazines and not paying) is a must have for hard to find proper British historical etymology and hard to find words.

I now remember being gifted another American dictionary in the mid-80s...it was very large about 4-5 inches thick with a brown dust jacket. That's the one that had the definitions for the all the dirty words like "cocksucker" and "motherfucker." It definitely had both of those words. OED would never print those words. I was remembering wrong.

So now my questions would be...is the American Heritage the best of the best for American dictionary's? And will the latest editions print all the words without editing out controversial words?

It sounds like I don't need to get an old version. They are not eliminating words from the books just yet most probably. But it does appear that things are being erased online. The digital revolution could easily become a modern day book burning if we let it. Too easy to edit history if people are only viewing and reading online as opposed to physical books. Hold on to your books if you can.

I can get a used compact OED two volume with magnifying glass for under $100. A must have. But as an American writer, I need the other American dictionary also.

Thanks again for your help.


ReplyQuote
ignant666
(@ignant666)
Tangin
Joined: 16 years ago
Posts: 3639
 
Posted by: @elitemachinery

is the American Heritage the best of the best for American dictionary's?

I think so, it is a well-researched, scholarly dictionary. There isn't much money in publishing dictionaries anymore, i don't think my son has ever used one. AH is the last one standing as far as a big fat American scholarly dictionary. I would get the latest one available. Lexicographers are definitely not censoring words; if it is getting used, they want to include it.

Dictionary connoisseurs will want to dig out anarchist snob Dwight MacDonald's classic 1962 negative review of a then-new dictionary, "The string untuned: A review of the Third Edition of Webster's New International Dictionary" (available on the New Yorker website to subscribers, and reprinted in his Against the American grain (which also includes his takedown of the Book Of the Month Club)).


ReplyQuote
hadgigegenraum
(@hadgigegenraum)
Member
Joined: 3 years ago
Posts: 344
 

I believe the Aleister Crowley was fond of Skeats Etymological Dictionary....probably mentioned in the Confessions.

Yes Black's Law Dictionary is sometimes indispensable.

777 is a dictionary of sorts.

Malcom X claimed that he became literate in prison by reading a dictionary a to z.


ReplyQuote
jdes
 jdes
(@jdes)
Member
Joined: 15 years ago
Posts: 63
 

Crowley refers to Skeats throughout Magick Without Tears. It first appears in Letter ‘I’ which forms part of the introduction and he recommends: ‘Indeed, I want you to go even further; make sure of what is meant by even the simplest words. Trace the history of the word with the help of Skeat's Etymological Dictionary.’

I found a concise version of ‘Skeats’ (1961 impression) second hand some years ago, but it appears to be still in print and the 1888 edition is available at archive.org (downloadable in several versions). See: https://archive.org/details/etymologicaldict00skeauoft/page/n5/mode/2up


ReplyQuote
christibrany
(@christibrany)
Yuggothian
Joined: 12 years ago
Posts: 2914
 

@elitemachinery

 

Holy snikies.

 

RE the 2 vol compact OED. My dad had that exact same dictionary and I would love sneaking into his office to open the little drawer and use the magnifying glass.  This was in my dad's storage which was illegally taken over by his second wife 🙁  .  Now I want to find a copy with the box etc...

 

It is on my to-do list to buy a good set of dictionaries as well as encyclopedias for when the grid goes down....  I have some tiny paperback thesaurus and dictionary but I want a more comprehensive set.


ReplyQuote
hadgigegenraum
(@hadgigegenraum)
Member
Joined: 3 years ago
Posts: 344
 

@jdes 

Thanks for pointing out where AC mentions Skeats

Also for the link to a copy on Archive.org!


ReplyQuote
jdes
 jdes
(@jdes)
Member
Joined: 15 years ago
Posts: 63
 

@hadgigegenraum

You're welcome. Just a point - if you download the PDF version check if the PDF reader's search feature differentiates between upper and lower case letters. If it does it helps to search words using capital letters. 


ReplyQuote
Alan_OBrien
(@alan_obrien)
Member
Joined: 12 years ago
Posts: 259
 

The best single volume is Chambers. I looked up all those naughty words and they are all there. For example,

motherfucker noun (taboo sl, esp US)

An extremely objectionable, unpleasant, etc person or thing (sometimes shortened to mother, mutha or mofo)

I now have the entire dictionary as an app on my android phone, and it cost a fiver.

When I do hard crosswords, the setter usually recommends Chambers, and I have never encountered a word that Chambers does not have.


ReplyQuote
RuneLogIX
(@runelogix)
Magister
Joined: 16 years ago
Posts: 407
 
Posted by: @elitemachinery

Would I still need a book on etymology? Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated.

For the money you will be better off with https://en.wiktionary.org/  

In Prophetes Veritas Venit. Quod ambulas cum Thelema et Agape est semper fidelis pietas.


ReplyQuote
ignant666
(@ignant666)
Tangin
Joined: 16 years ago
Posts: 3639
 

Nothing like a full-time investor to look after your money.

But wiktionary is kinda weak on etymology. For example, when we look up "Gorean", all it tells us as to the etymology of this word is that it combines "Gor" with the suffix "-ean". There is an article on the suffix part, but we are left high and dry as to "Gor"- there is no article.

Wiktionary does somewhat better with "neo-Nazi", tracing the word to 1950s French usage.

It also correctly tells us the origin of the word "moron", coined in 1910 from the Greek root μωρός (mōrós, “foolish, dull”).

Nonetheless, i strand by my recommendations of the Compact OED, and the American Heritage Dictionary for US English.


ReplyQuote
soz
 soz
(@soz)
Member
Joined: 15 years ago
Posts: 102
 

Would I still need a book on etymology? Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated.

the Online Etymology Dictionary ( https://www.etymonline.com/) is an excellent resource


ReplyQuote
soz
 soz
(@soz)
Member
Joined: 15 years ago
Posts: 102
 

this link is better than the one I posted: https://www.etymonline.com


ReplyQuote
Share: