Random House Webster's Unabridged Dictionary

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Random House Webster's Unabridged Dictionary is a large American dictionary, first published in 1966 as The Random House Dictionary of the English Language: The Unabridged Edition. Edited by Jess Stein, it contained 315,000 entries in 2256 pages, as well as 2400 illustrations. The CD-ROM version in 1994 also included 120,000 spoken pronunciations. [1]

Dictionary collection of words and their meanings

A dictionary, sometimes known as a wordbook, is a collection of words in one or more specific languages, often arranged alphabetically, which may include information on definitions, usage, etymologies, pronunciations, translation, etc. or a book of words in one language with their equivalents in another, sometimes known as a lexicon. It is a lexicographical reference that shows inter-relationships among the data.

CD-ROM pre-pressed compact disc

A CD-ROM is a pre-pressed optical compact disc that contains data. Computers can read—but not write to or erase—CD-ROMs, i.e. it is a type of read-only memory.

Contents

History

The Random House publishing company entered the reference book market after World War II. They acquired rights to the Century Dictionary and the Dictionary of American English , both out of print. Their first dictionary was Clarence Barnhart's American College Dictionary , published in 1947, and based primarily on The New Century Dictionary, an abridgement of the Century. [2] [3]

Random House general-interest trade book publisher

Random House is an American book publisher and the largest general-interest paperback publisher in the world. As of 2013, it is part of Penguin Random House, which is jointly owned by German media conglomerate Bertelsmann and British global education and publishing company Pearson PLC.

<i>Century Dictionary</i> book by William Dwight Whitney

The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia is one of the largest encyclopedic dictionaries of the English language. In its day it was compared favorably with the Oxford English Dictionary and frequently consulted for more factual information than would normally be the case for a dictionary.

A Dictionary of American English on Historical Principles (DAE) is a dictionary of terms appearing in English in the United States that was published in four volumes from 1938 to 1944 by the University of Chicago Press. Intended to pick up where the Oxford English Dictionary left off, it covers American English words and phrases in use from the first English settlements up to the start of the 20th century.

In the late 1950s, it was decided to publish an expansion of the American College Dictionary , which had been modestly updated with each reprinting since its publication. Under editors Jess Stein and Laurence Urdang, they augmented the American College Dictionary with large numbers of entries in all fields, primarily proper names, and published it in 1966 as The Random House Dictionary of the English Language: The Unabridged Edition. It was the first dictionary to use computers in its compilation and typesetting.

<i>American College Dictionary</i>

The American College Dictionary was the first Random House dictionary and was later expanded to create the Random House Dictionary of the English Language. First published in 1947, The American College Dictionary was edited by Clarence Barnhart based on the 1927 New Century Dictionary.

Laurence Urdang was a lexicographer, editor and author noted for first computerising the unabridged Random House Dictionary of the English Language, published in 1966. He was also the founding editor of Verbatim, a quarterly newsletter on language.

Typesetting composition of text by means of types

Typesetting is the composition of text by means of arranging physical types or the digital equivalents. Stored letters and other symbols are retrieved and ordered according to a language's orthography for visual display. Typesetting requires one or more fonts. One significant effect of typesetting was that authorship of works could be spotted more easily, making it difficult for copiers who have not gained permission.

In his preface to the 1966 edition, Stein argued (p. vi) that the Random House Dictionary steers "a linguistically sound middle course" between the "lexicographer's Scylla and Charybdis: should the dictionary be an authoritarian guide to 'correct' English or should it be so antiseptically free of comment that it may defeat the user by providing him with no guidance at all?" [4] In 1982 Random House published The Random House ProofReader, a computer spell checker based on its dictionary. [5]

Spell checker software used to detect misspelled words, in a document

In software, a spell checker is a software feature that checks for misspellings in a text. Features are often in software, such as a word processor, email client, electronic dictionary, or search engine.

An expanded second edition of the printed dictionary, edited by Stuart Berg Flexner, appeared in 1987, revised in 1993. This edition adopted the Merriam-Webster Collegiate innovation of adding dates for the entry of words into the language. Unlike the Collegiate, which cited the date of the first known citation, Random House indicated a range of dates. For example, where the Collegiate gave 1676, Random House might offer 1670–80. This second edition was described as permissive by T. R. Reid in the Washington Post. [6]

Stuart Berg Flexner (1928–1990) was a lexicographer, editor and author, noted for his books on the origins of American words and expressions, including I Hear America Talking and Listening to America; as co-editor of the Dictionary of American Slang and as chief editor of the Random House Dictionary, Second Edition.

Random House incorporated the name Webster's into the dictionary's title after an appeals court overturned an injunction awarded to Merriam Webster restricting the name's use. [7] The name Random House Webster's is now used on many Random House publications.

In 2001, Random House published its Webster's Unabridged Dictionary of the English Language, based on the Second Edition of the Random House Dictionary of the English Language.

Versions of the dictionary have been published under other names, including Webster's New Universal Dictionary (which was previously the name of an entirely different dictionary) and Webster's Encyclopedic Unabridged Dictionary.

Dictionary.com's online dictionary bases its proprietary content on the Random House unabridged version.

See also

Related Research Articles

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Merriam-Webster American publisher

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The American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language (AHD) is an American dictionary of English published by Boston publisher Houghton Mifflin, the first edition of which appeared in 1969. Its creation was spurred by the controversy over the perceived permissiveness of the Webster's Third New International Dictionary. The third edition had more than 350,000 entries and meanings.

Joseph Emerson Worcester American lexicographer

Joseph Emerson Worcester was an American lexicographer who was the chief competitor to Noah Webster of Webster's Dictionary in the mid-nineteenth-century. Their rivalry became known as the "dictionary wars". Worcester's dictionaries focused on traditional pronunciation and spelling, unlike Noah Webster's attempts to Americanize words. Worcester was respected by American writers and his dictionary maintained a strong hold on the American marketplace until a later, posthumous version of Webster's book appeared in 1864. After Worcester's death in 1865, their war ended.

<i>Websters New World Dictionary</i>

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A landaulet, also known as landaulette, is a car body style where the rear passengers are covered by a convertible top. Often the driver is separated from the rear passengers with a partition, as per a limousine.

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Many of the differences between American and British English date back to a time when spelling standards had not yet developed. For instance, some spellings seen as "American" today were once commonly used in Britain and some spellings seen as "British" were once commonly used in the United States. A "British standard" began to emerge following the 1755 publication of Samuel Johnson's A Dictionary of the English Language, and an "American standard" started following the work of Noah Webster and in particular his An American Dictionary of the English Language, first published in 1828.

Irregardless is a word sometimes used in place of regardless or irrespective, which has caused controversy since the early twentieth century, though the word appeared in print as early as 1795. Most dictionaries list it as non-standard or incorrect usage, and recommend that "regardless" should be used instead.

<i>Websters Third New International Dictionary</i> unabridged English dictionary

Webster's Third New International Dictionary of the English Language, Unabridged was published in September 1961. It was edited by Philip Babcock Gove and a team of lexicographers who spent 757 editor-years and $3.5 million. It contained more than 450,000 entries, including more than 100,000 new entries and as many new senses for entries carried over from previous editions.

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<i>Official Scrabble Players Dictionary</i>

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Merriam–Webster's Dictionary of English Usage is a usage dictionary published by Merriam-Webster, Inc., of Springfield, Massachusetts. It is currently available in a reprint edition (1994) ISBN 0-87779-132-5 or ISBN 978-0-87779-132-4.

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References

  1. PC Magazine (Jan 25, 1994). $79 Random House Dictionary: Look It Up Under Bargain. p. 56.
  2. Barbara Ripp Safford and Margaret Irby Nichols, eds. Guide to reference materials for school library media centers (1998), p. 217
  3. Kurt Vonnegut, Welcome to the monkey house: a collection of short works (1998), pp. 118–23
  4. Ronald A. Wells (1973). Dictionaries and the Authoritarian Tradition: A Study in English Usage and Lexicography. Walter de Gruyter. p. 113.
  5. Advertisement (November 1982). "The Spelling Bee Is Over". PC Magazine. p. 165. Retrieved 21 October 2013.
  6. Reid, T. R. (November 8, 1987). "BRAVE NEW WORDS A DICTIONARY FOR TODAY". The Washington Post. Retrieved July 15, 2017.
  7. Merriam-Webster, Inc. v. Random House, Inc., 35 F.3d 65 (2d Cir. 1994).