Top positive review
55 people found this helpful
For lovers of words
on 22 November 2011
My first 'proper' dictionary, many years ago, was the "Chambers 20th Century", of which this is the successor. I loved that dictionary, and I love this one, because I am fascinated by the English language - where it comes from, how it changes and evolves, and all the little idiosyncracies and curlicues that result.
In addition to the main dictionary itself, Chambers throws in the following:
- At the start, a short introductory "history of English" and observations on the global varieties of English which are now exerting ever more influence
- In the middle, some entertainment in the form of:
(a) Some miscellaneous lists of particularly evocative, obscure, interesting words
(b) 2-3 letter words for use in Scrabble
(c) Help in decoding cryptic crossword clues
- At the end, some useful reference information, including Periodic table, Beaufort scale for wind speed, champagne bottle sizes, etc.
However, the main delight remains the dictionary. The layout is clear and the font size not too small to be readable. On many pages you will find a shaded box highighting a particularly notable or interesting word. And the definitions are written with a clarity, brevity and wit that would make Samuel Johnson proud. I checked, and my personal favourite is still there:
eclair: a cake, long in shape but short in duration
In terms of the book itself, it smacks of quality throughout:
- Beautifully bound - when the paper dust-jacket rips (as it eventually will, with use) you have classy plain red boards with gold-stamped writing on the spine
- The spine is bound separately from the cover, so that the book naturally lies flat, open at whatever page has been chosen, without any damage. I have tested this from the first page to the last, and it works everywhere
- The paper is very thin, to reduce the thickness and weight over the overall book, but strong and crisp. It is slightly translucent, similar to some Bibles, but the printing is so clear and well laid out that the minor "show through" from the reverse is not a problem.
- a simple ribbon book mark is built-in
If you do not own a decent dictionary, or if your existing one is getting a bit tired and dishevelled, get this one. There is no better on the market for this price.