Cover image for Encarta world English dictionary.
Encarta world English dictionary.
Soukhanov, Anne H., 1943-
Personal Author:
Publication Information:
New York : St. Martin's Press, 1999.
Physical Description:
2078 pages ; 29 cm
General Note:
The symbol for registered trademark follows "Encarta" in title.
Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Clarence Library PE1628 .S5824 1999 Adult Non-Fiction Reference material
Clearfield Library PE1628 .S5824 1999 Adult Non-Fiction Open Shelf
Concord Library PE1628 .S5824 1999 Adult Non-Fiction Open Shelf
Eden Library PE1628 .S5824 1999 Adult Non-Fiction Reference material
Grand Island Library PE1628 .S5824 1999 Adult Non-Fiction Open Shelf
Kenmore Library PE1628 .S5824 1999 Adult Non-Fiction Reference material
Lake Shore Library PE1628 .S5824 1999 Adult Non-Fiction Open Shelf
Lancaster Library PE1628 .S5824 1999 Adult Non-Fiction Reference material
Marilla Free Library PE1628 .S5824 1999 Adult Non-Fiction Reference material
North Collins Library PE1628 .S5824 1999 Adult Non-Fiction Reference material
City of Tonawanda Library PE1628 .S5824 1999 Adult Non-Fiction Reference material
Audubon Library PE1628 .S5824 1999 Adult Non-Fiction Reference material

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Created by using computer, Internet, and database technology, the "Encarta World English Dictionary" combines the work of 250 lexicographers in ten countries with the power of Microsoft Encarta, the premier name in electronic consumer reference. The result is more than 400,000 entries, over 20,000 new words and definitions, 4,000-plus illustrations, over three million words of text--in short, the most up-to-date dictionary on the market.

Reviews 3

Booklist Review

Several things set this new English-language dictionary apart from that genre's familiar workhorses such as Webster's Collegiate Dictionary (10th ed., Merriam-Webster, 1998) and Random House Webster's College Dictionary (p.653). First, it has been published simultaneously throughout the English-speaking world, reflecting the global reach and power of Microsoft, publisher of its CD-ROM version. That approach befits a dictionary that prides itself on including many words representing world English, defined (in its entry in the dictionary) as "the English language in all its varieties as it is spoken and written all over the world." Thus, it includes the British mot juste gobsmacked, meaning extremely surprised or shocked; the Scottish scoosh (the act of squirting); and the well-traveled Australian g'day. Treatment of terms from world English is at its best when the same word takes on different significance in different countries or cultures. Take, for example, the explanation of the very precise (at least to some South Africans) meaning assigned in South Africa to colored when applied to people. Although words from all parts of the English-speaking world appear in the dictionary, the selection is not comprehensive. To learn the meanings of the evocative fortyeleven or mokobanana, one still needs The Dictionary of Caribbean English Usage (Oxford, 1996); and to learn the down-under meanings of grip, oncer, or skerrick, one needs The Australian National Dictionary (Oxford, 1988). The second way in which Encarta differs from other dictionaries is that it carries a step beyond the competitors the best lexicographical practice of describing the language as it is used, rather than prescribing usage. All good dictionaries provide usage notes explaining how words such as the infamous ain't and the notorious hopefully are generally used in particular contexts. Not only does Encarta offer clearly articulated usage notes, it also offers cultural notes. These explain a word's significance in popular culture. For example, a cultural note accompanying the entry on scream describes Edvard Munch's famous painting, The Scream; a note following the entry on home describes the film Home Alone; and one following the entry tempest describes the enduring influence of Shakespeare's delightful play. Although interesting, these notes add little to a user's understanding of the meaning, origin, or value of the words they are associated with. Encarta also has absorbed popular culture, especially American popular culture (itself a form of world popular culture). Thus, it includes yadda, yadda, yadda; bomb, meaning "something or somebody extremely good or exciting"; homeschool; and even Monicagate. It also acknowledges, through numerous entries, the many additions contemporary technology has made to the popular vocabulary--for example, mouse (as a computer control device, with its purely contemporary plural of mouses); the slang term chiphead (for one who is very interested in computers); and Webliography. Even as inclusive of new words as this dictionary is, reference collections still need The Oxford Dictionary of New Words (2d ed., 1997) for explanations of terms such as eyephone, recovered memory, and trainspotter. Although it is distinctive in these ways, Encarta is thoroughly rooted in the traditions of English lexicography. Its principal editor, Anne H. Soukhanov, has a distinguished history as a dictionary editor. Thus, it is little surprise that entries identify each word's part of speech; provide its pronunciation; give clear, succinct definitions; illustrate meaning in brief sentences; and provide etymologies for selected words. As in other general-purpose dictionaries, the inclusion of 5,000 biographies and 5,000 geographical entries introduces information that, although useful, can be considered extraneous to a dictionary. Through its coverage of selected terms from world English, this volume will enrich reference collections in high-school, public, and academic libraries, even if it will not displace other online or desk dictionaries as the dictionary of choice.

Library Journal Review

Lexicographer Soukhanov, "Word Watch" columnist for the Atlantic Monthly and former editor of The American Heritage Dictionaly, draws on the resources of MicrosoftR EncartaR to produce what is being touted as the first new dictionary in 30 years. Arranged letter by letter, it contains over 100,000 headwords, including 10,000 biographical and geographical entries. Each entry includes syllabication, pronunciation (with the pronunciation key across the bottom of the double-spread pages), inflections (tenses, forms of adjectives, and irregular plurals), part of speech, etymologies, and, sometimes, quotations illustrating the use of the word. The different meanings are arranged with the most commonly used senses appearing early in the definition and the less frequently used ones toward the end. The dictionary also includes a useful feature called "quick definitions"Äa brief summary set in small capitals at the beginning of the definition. Another interesting facet is the inclusion of English-language words from countries besides England and the United States. According to Soukhanov, this is "the first dictionary bringing together not only the two main spelling forms of the language (American English and British English) but also all the other main varieties of our language, from Canada, Australia, New Zealand, Africa, Asia, the Caribbean, and the Pacific Rim." Compared to Merriam-Webster's Collegiate Dictionary (1998. 10th ed.), this dictionary is small, but it includes terms not found in Merriam-Webster's, such as "DVD" and the Australian "barbie." For this reason, it is recommended for most libraries as a useful tool for patrons looking for words just recently finding their way into our language. [Previewed in Prepub Alert, LJ 4/15/99.]ÄCynthia A. Johnson, Barnard Coll. Lib., New York (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Choice Review

Encarta heralds itself as the first dictionary of World English, the emerging lingua franca of the computer age. The North American edition is clearly geared toward the US, for example giving football teams 11 players, ignoring that Canadian teams have 12. Encarta, with more than 100,000 headwords and 10,000 geographical and biographical entries, is similar to American Heritage Dictionary (3rd ed., 1992) in both format and size. The typeface and page layout are clear and easy to read, and "quick definitions" in boldface draw readers to the desired meaning. It emphasizes new words and slang, such as "greentailing," "headbanger," and "Webcast," but gives no dates for their first appearance in print. New meanings are provided for established words (e.g., "shred," "bulletproof"), but some expected words and definitions are missing ("argy-bargy," "bum's rush," and the British meaning of "bagman"). A reproving tone crops up in definitions of offensive words. Although Encarta often succeeds in giving clear, nontechnical definitions, it sometimes sacrifices precision--for example, to be between Scylla and Charybdis is not the same as "being faced with the necessity of choosing between two equally undesirable or unpleasant things," and soteriology pertains to the doctrine or study of salvation in any religion, not just Christianity. Pronunciations are occasionally inconsistent and often lack important information: the entry for Quincy ("kwinzee, -see") fails to specify which pronunciation fits the city in Massachusetts and which the city in Illinois. Greenwich, England, is pronounced "grennich, -ij," but Greenwich Mean Time is "gr`innij-." Canadian pronunciations are sometimes ignored. Usage notes, cultural notes, word origins, and synonym essays appear in "word key" boxes. Oddly, words in the synonym essays do not always agree with the corresponding definitions. The usage notes offer helpful advice and point out where common usage diverges from recommended practices, but they are often more permissive than American Heritage. Encarta holds that the relative pronouns "which" and "that" are often interchangeable. Unlike most dictionaries, it does not define "he" as a pronoun designating any person of unspecified gender, nor does it offer any guidance on this issue. The illustrations are of good quality but in several cases appear on the verso of the definition page, and so will not be seen. Celebrity photographs abound for biographical entries, but our reviewer group would have preferred more illustrations that enhanced the definitions. Published reviews of Encarta have noted surprising errors, and our reviewers found others without much effort; e.g., it omits the letter h from Pittsburgh, PA; locates Buffalo in northeastern New York; has Caesar Rodney signing the "Declaration of the Continental Congress of Independence" and presiding over Delaware 1778-82 (his term ended in 1781); pairs with Benjamin Harrison (1726?-91) a portrait of Benjamin Harrison (1833-1901). Encarta is useful for new words, meanings, and slang but shows many signs of having been rushed to market and has an uncomfortably high error rate. Reference departments will find it a useful supplement, but it has yet to establish itself as an authoritative source. [Reviewed by staff of the Reference Department, Baker Memorial Library, Dartmouth College: William Fontaine, with assistance from Virginia Close (emerita), Ridie Ghezzi, Francis Oscadal, and Cynthia Shirkey.] W. Fontaine; Dartmouth College

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