Finding the #Write #Words? No. 32: The Oxford Dictionary for Writers and Editors

Continuing the description of books on words and language listed in the introductory post, which you’ll find here.

Book 32: The Oxford Dictionary for Writers and Editors

Hardback, 448 pages. Published in 1981 by Oxford University Press. There was a revision in 2000, producing a second edition, with 416 pages. A used copy of that hardback is available for £3.15. However, a new edition was published, as ‘New Oxford Dictionary for Writers & Editors’ in 2014 and is available in hardback for £11.71.

The book is presented, as is commonly the case for dictionaries, in alphabetical form. But it deals with much more than mere definitions. There are two and a half pages of abbreviations used in the dictionary. And then begin the entries. Unlike an ordinary dictionary, this one lists proprietary terms, proper nouns, and some symbols, including the @.

Opened randomly at pages 212/213, I come first upon ‘ketch (naut.), a two-masted vessel.’ That’s followed by ‘Ketch (Jack), the hangman, not Ca-, Ki-’ The entries continue in alphabetical order through ‘kettledrum (one word)’ to ‘Kilbracken (Baron) (Sir Arthur Godley, of the India Office), 1847-1932’.

Page 213 begins with ‘Kilimanjaro, mt., E.Africa (one word, divide Kilima-njaro)’ then ‘kill (typ.), to cancel a line etc.; to distribute composed type’ The former providing a guide to the proper placing of a hyphen in the word, the latter explaining a compositor’s term (something less and less necessary in the modern world of automatic type-setting). It goes on to list the correct spellings for various towns in Ireland, indicating in which county they are found, and ends the page with ‘kintle, use quintal’ (for those of you who care, a quintal is a measure of weight equalling 100 kilograms).

It will be seen that this small, but fully-packed, book is, as it says on the cover, a dictionary for writers and editors; that is for the members of those two crafts who wish to get things right! That it needs updating fairly frequently is clear from the content, and the new (2014) edition will undoubtedly be of more value to today’s writers and editors.

English is a complex language, made up of words from many countries, and borrows rules of grammar, punctuation and even style from the originating lands, which can make it interestingly familiar to learners but also frequently frustratingly baffling to the same students.

Those learning the English Language will find help on pronunciation here. And you’ll find a friendly group on Facebook through this link.

And, for those with a real interest in English and considering their future, here’s a link that suggests the many possible career opportunities open to those with a degree in the subject. It’s also a link to an online university, and therefore an advert for their services. I know nothing of the institution, but the list of possible career choices might be useful.

Earlier posts in the series can be found by clicking on the titles below.

2. A Dictionary of Misunderstood Misused Mispronounced Words.
3. A Dictionary of Slang and Unconventional English.
4. A Miscellany for Word Lovers.
6. A Dictionary of Rhyming Slang.
7. Brit-think, American-think.
8. Bryson’s Dictionary for Writers and Editors.
9. Collins English Dictionary.
10. Current English Usage.
11. Descriptionary; a Thematic Dictionary.
12. Divided by a Common Language.
13. Eats Shoots & Leaves.
14. English Prepositional Idioms.
15. Fowler’s Modern English Usage.
16. Hart’s Rules for Compositors and Readers.
17. Hartrampf’s Vocabulary Builder.
18. i before e (except after c).
19. Longman Companion to English Literature.
20. New Hart’s Rules.
21. New Nuttall Dictionary of English Synonyms and Antonyms
22. Oxford Compact Thesaurus.
23. Oxford Dictionary of Current Idiomatic English.
24. Roget’s Thesaurus.
25. Shorter Oxford English Dictionary.
26. The Dictionary of Diseased English.
27. The Elements of Style.
28. The Emotion Thesaurus.
29. The Grouchy Grammarian.
30. The Last Word.
31. The Little Red Writing Book

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