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on 1 February 2009
I've owned a previous non-thumb indexed version of this dictionary but I lost this treasure when it went away to university with a family member. In the first instance I replaced it with a Collins dictionary which had larger print for convenience but unfortunately didn't have the quantity and range of words that the Concise Oxford English Dictionary has. The Concise Oxford is authoritative and confidence inspiring. I'm happy and reassured to again have this quality dictionary that suits my general all round purposes. The thumb index is a useful bonus that saves a little time when hunting that important definition or spelling. The print is rather small but I feel that's the price well worth paying to enable such a huge number of words to be packed into a relativey small single unit.
This is an excellent one volume dictionary worth giving a good home to.
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on 27 April 2017
Good value!
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on 19 February 2015
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on 31 August 2014
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on 3 June 2013
It is what you would expect from a dictionary. Can't say much more really other than very useful to have a book version rather than always having to go online or on your phone.
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on 10 January 2006
The Concise Oxford is a single-volume work, small enough to keep close to your desk and light enough to lift down with one hand. Yet it contains clear descriptions of all the words most of us will ever need, from the exotic (catamountain) to the obscure (zillah). For each word, a pronunciation guide, one or more meanings, and an origin (eg from Latin, Greek or French roots) is provided. There are also usage guides to tricky grammar points ("both the boys" or "both of the boys"?). The Concise Oxford comes with all the authority of its big brother, the mighty 20-volume Oxford English Dictionary. Yet it is easy to use and never comes across as dry or academic.
Conclusion: a beautiful book to use and to own. Good value, too.
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TOP 1000 REVIEWERon 5 November 2008
Needing a supplement to my aging 1987 Webster, and in particular one reliably giving British usage, I originally bought the Cambridge International Dictionary of English. It's an excellent dictionary, in fact I would say THE dictionary, for non-native speakers; the entries, explanations and descriptions of usage are wonderfully simple and clear.

But it simply didn't have in it enough of the words I looked up, so I sent it to a friend of mine in Spain who's learning English, and bought the Concise.

I must say at once that it was an immense improvement; in the three months I've had it, there's only been one word I've looked for that wasn't in it ("testudinal", which is found in William Manchester's biography of Winston Churchill: I think it means "relating to tortoises"). I don't know if you can count FUBAR, which isn't listed (although SNAFU is).

It's also strong on modern technical terms (such as "blog") and slang expressions (such as "go postal"). And whatever one's view of political correctness, one needs to be aware of it to be absolutely certain of avoiding offence. Here again I found the Concise exemplary.

However, I am not so ecstatic about some of the other features.

One is the treatment of pronunciation. I accept that it's better to use the IPA than some half-baked phonetic equivalent, and I'm gradually getting used to it. But "the principle followed is that pronunciations are only given where they are likely to cause problems for the native speaker of English". So if you're not a native speaker — or you're a child who hasn't yet attained an adult vocabulary — then you're SOL; you'd be better off with the Cambridge. Further, although US spellings are provided, US pronunciations are not, only RP ones; thus no cognizance is taken (for instance) of the difference between UK ad-'dress and US 'ad-dress. And although two pronunciations of "laboratory" are given, there's no indication of which is which.

I found the Concise unhelpful on some aspects of usage. When did "ætiology" become "aetiology", and when did "B.B.C." become "BBC"?

More alarming is a syntactic sloppiness that pervades the whole thing. Of course every dictionary must strike a balance between prescriptivism and descriptivism*, and by and large the Concise does a good job (as in the entry for "decimate", for example). The policy on possessives is explicitly stated in the usage note for "they": 'It is now widely held that the traditional use of "he" to refer to a person of either sex is outdated and sexist; the alternative, "he or she", can be clumsy. It is now generally acceptable, therefore, to use "they" (with its counterparts "them", "their" and "themselves" instead. [...]'. But this means that "a pupil should leave their coat in the lobby" is acceptable, although it looks very odd to me. I guess I'm just old-fashioned.

"Façade" is presented without the cedilla, even as an alternative spelling, which looks to me outright illiterate.

Among other oddities are the use of "which" instead of "that" in restrictive clauses, and (on the last page) "hyphened" instead "hyphenated".

Some of the entries seem to me slightly off-centre, too, e.g. "legless" is defined as "extremely drunk", which is true as far as it goes. But specifically it means "too drunk to stand"; if you can still stand, you aren't legless, however drunk you are. "Rabbit" as a Cockney term is said to come from "rabbit and pork" = "talk", but as a Londoner I've always understood it to be from "rabbit's paw" = "jaw".

But by and large I'm happy with the Concise.

*In this connection, it's perhaps a sign of the times that the spelling "miniscule" has now overtaken "minuscule" (p.1700).


On the subject of the abbreviations and digraphs, I availed myself of the invitation to Ask Oxford, and received from a lady the following kind reply (in part):

"I have checked all editions of the Concise Oxford Dictionary back to 1911, and was interested to find that this publication has never used the ae and œ digraphs, though they were and still are to be found in the full Oxford English Dictionary. Of course they were never available on standard typewriter keyboards, and rare on early computers, and I suspect that this hastened their decline. In British English there has been a strong trend towards simplification in the past twenty years, and any unnecessary complication is out of favour; to use digraphs would not be considered incorrect, but fussy.

"The same process has affected punctuation, which is now lighter. I see that the initialism 'B.B.C.' appeared thus in the sixth edition of the Concise (1976) but as 'BBC' in the seventh (1982): both were edited by J.B. Sykes."


After a bit more time, I have become somewhat disillusioned: the Concise won't get you through the Saint books or even James Bond (What IS a racing change? Is it the same thing as double-declutching?); and for Simon Raven it's derisory.
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on 14 September 2005
I'll try to keep it brief but this dictionary is certainly a must-have:
1) It's small enough to keep handy but not lacking in detail
2) It is extremely accessible. From the helpful introduction down to the 'Guide to good English', this dictionary provides interesting and fascinating insight into many aspects of our language
3) As to be expected, definitions are clear and precise. Which leads me onto...
4) The word origin section - wow! Absolutely fascinating... you'll start to see links in language like you haven't before! I can't possibly do it justice!
5) Although other dictionaries hold similar characteristics, I've found the Concise Oxford English Dictionary to be the best and most consistent
6) It is affordable and more importantly, well worth the money!
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on 15 August 2007
Excellent trustworthy desk companion which will almost certainly provide for all of your wordy needs. I find the full version only to be useful just for those curiously interesting words that may crop up once in a lifetime.

This is the best of the concise dictionaries, in my opinion, narrowly beating its closest rival, the Collins version (probably on a photo-finish). This contains useful grey alphabet tabs on the foredge.
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on 20 January 2010
Have only used this particular edition once or twice but am told by my parents that it is an excellent reference book.
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