So many dictionaries and so many acronyms. There’s SOED, there’s the W3NI…you could get dizzy trying to follow a linguablog. So how do you sort out dictionary pedigrees? Which one is authoritative?
The SOED is not just a dictionary, it’s the Shorter Oxford English Dictionary, a dictionary of historical meanings. The OED CD-ROM is £169.57+ VAT, the SOED CD-ROM is £51.06 + VAT. It’s also online for a subscription of £205 a year. The OED is the Bible of the linguistics world.
W3NI is Webster’s Third New International dictionary. It weighs 12.5 pounds, is 4 inches thick, and costs $81.27 on Amazon.According to Wikipedia:
This dictionary is preferred as a backup source by two influential style guides in the United States, although each one directs writers to go first to other, shorter dictionaries. The Chicago Manual of Style, followed by many book publishers and magazines in the United States, recommends Webster’s Third, along with Merriam–Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary for “general matters of spelling”, and the style book “normally opts for” the first spelling listed (with the Collegiate taking precedence over Webster’s Third because it “represents the latest research”). The Associated Press Stylebook, used by most newspapers in the United States, refers readers to W3 “if there is no listing in either this book or Webster’s New World“.
The latest edition of Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary is free online. Now we’re getting somewhere. Not only that, you can get free downloads for Firefox that add it to your search box (very nice) and to your mouse’s right click (oopsie, not compatible with version 3.o). (Yes, they have IE too.) Now you won’t have to make a button and add it to your sidebar so you always have the link.