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Which dictionary should I get: Merriam-Webster's Collegiate Dictionary, or Oxford Dictionary of English, or something else?

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I just bought an iPhone and am looking to outfit it with a good dictionary.

What are the primary differences between Merriam-Webster's Collegiate Dictionary or the Oxford Dictionary of English? The prices are similar. Assuming cost is not a factor, why would you choose one over the other?

If I'm willing to spend about twice as much, there's also Webster's Third New International Dictionary, Unabridged or Oxford Deluxe or Shorter Oxford English Dictionary. Are the extra words likely to be ones I'd come across? I read a lot, but nothing very old.

Thanks for your help!

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3 answers

2

j. d. o'conal [ Editor ]

The COED (Concise Oxford English Dictionary) iPhone software is quite good and I find its audio pronunciations extremely useful. The full OED is a much more in-depth dictionary than any other dictionary of which I am aware, but the COED is comparable to other dictionaries and, like Mr Remero said, it depends entirely on the dialect of English for which you need a reference.

The COED iPhone app also has a thesaurus built into it.

As far as the technical differences between the apps, I wouldn't be able to tell you any more than the descriptions given by iTunes.

NN comments
chris w. rea
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Thanks for mentioning your first-hand experience with COED. +1

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3

donald remero [ Moderator ]

If you are in the U.S. or American English-speaking country, I'd go with Merriam-Webster's. If you are in the U.K, India, Hong Kong or the like and work with British English more commonly, then I'd go with Oxford.

The Merriam-Webster Collegiate Dictionary has a reputation for being more up-to-date on new words and technical words compared to the similar-sized version of the Oxford dictionary. I also like Merriam-Webster's sensibility when it comes to usage analysis and guidelines.

That being said, I don't know anything about the quality or usability of the software that either provides for the iPhone.

If you were to get a "big" dictionary, then I think the Oxford dictionaries become more compelling no matter where you are.

NN comments
j. d. o'conal
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The COED (Concise Oxford English Dictionary) iPhone software is quite good and I find its audio pronunciations quite useful. The full OED is a much more in-depth dictionary than any other dictionary of which I am aware, but the COED is comparable to other dictionaries and, like Mr Remero said, it depends entirely on the dialect of English for which you need a reference.

j. d. o'conal
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The COED (Concise Oxford English Dictionary) iPhone software is quite good and I find its audio pronunciations extremely useful. The full OED is a much more in-depth dictionary than any other dictionary of which I am aware, but the COED is comparable to other dictionaries and, like Mr Remero said, it depends entirely on the dialect of English for which you need a reference.

chris w. rea
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I’m in Canada, so Oxford more likely – but I imagine we’re not so obviously on pure British English anymore considering our proximity to our American friends south of the border. :–)

j. d. o'conal
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Although I still prefer the OED, Macquarie Dictionary is the standard for Australian English.

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1

banimibo-ofori jack [ Editor ]

Concise Oxford English Dictionary may be more popular, but its definition of some American words or words of American origin is not very satisfactory. For example 'brownout' is defined as 'partial blackout' in COED, while Merriam actually captures the true meaning as a period of reduced voltage of electricity caused esp. by high demand and resulting in reduced illumination. The latter captures the true meaning of the word. If you prefer American English, get a Merriam-Webster. Oxford is tentative in respect of the overall usage of American words.

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