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Notable Recent Dictionaries

Recent advances in lexicography have been made by the frequently revised collegiate or desk dictionary, an up-to-date abridgment of a large, comprehensive work. The Webster's Collegiate Dictionary (11th ed. 2008) is based on Webster's Third New International Dictionary, published in 1961; it has many notable competitors. Also notable are several modern American dictionaries of intermediate size, including the Random House Unabridged Dictionary (2d ed. 1987) and the well-illustrated American Heritage Dictionary (5th ed. 2011). Another significant contemporary dictionary, 50 years in the making, is the comprehensive Dictionary of American Regional English (5 vol., 1985–2012).

In the early 1990s computer technology made possible the release of dictionaries on floppy disks or CD-ROM, e.g., the electronic edition of The Random House Unabridged Dictionary (1993). Electronic dictionaries also became available as part of multivolume reference-book packages, such as Microsoft's Bookshelf CD-ROM, and as a feature of online services. Computer technology provided new ways to search for and link words and new ways to illustrate them, e.g., prerecorded pronunciations that users can play back. By the end of the 1990s many dictionaries were available in various print and electronic editions; the newly created Encarta World English Dictionary (1999) was released both as a printed book and a CD-ROM. Dictionaries or dictionarylike functions are now also available independently on the Internet, as a feature of search websites, and as applications for smartphones and other electronic devices.

The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.

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