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The Highly Selective Dictionary for the Extraordinarily Literate
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The Highly Selective Dictionary for the Extraordinarily Literate

3.82 of 5 stars 3.82  ·  rating details  ·  153 ratings  ·  11 reviews
Between TV talk shows, radio call-in programs, email and the Internet, spontaneous-talk media has skyrocketed in the '90s. People are interacting more frequently and more fervently than ever before, turning the English language into an indecipherable mess. Now, this unique and concise compendium presents the most confused and misused words in the language today -- words mi ...more
Hardcover, 192 pages
Published July 2nd 1997 by HarperCollins Publishers
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Jul 12, 2015 Mara rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: Logophiles, and loathers of cacologies
“Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes once declared, ‘Language is the skin of living thought.’ Just as your skin encloses your body, so does your vocabulary bound your mental life.”
I know, I know-- it seems to be the very apogee of absurdity for one to actually “read” a dictionary. But, Eugene Ehrlich has created a sort of paradoxical anti-dictionary; one to be considered “an antidote to the ongoing poisonous effects wrought by the forces of linguistic darkness.”

So, yes, I did, in fact, read al
Doesn't claim to be a comprehensive dictionary, but only to give those words that are often confused and misused. Plus lots (I feel as if I should use "a plethora" just to honor the book) of words that aren't used nearly as often as they should be.
A dictionary with the easy words eliminated. Good idea. You can actually read the whole thing, like I did. The only thing it lacks is a bit of fun along the way. Pretty straightforward definitions. The Preface had an interesting story about defining the word "door" in a 1934 dictionary. What an effort! For what purpose?
hilarious and informative at the same time
I picked this up on a whim, though I was dubious. Reading the preface, my reservations were confirmed. I have never approved of prescriptive dictionaries, grammars, etc. If I want to use the passive or subjunctive modes, I'll bloody well do so. And I never had any difficulty pronouncing 'nuclear', bearing in mind Walt Kelly's comment that it wasn't new and it wasn't clear.

Nor do I have any problem with dictionaries defining quotidian words (and yes, this word is included). Who doesn't know what
Dictionaries are always useful to have, kind of like having a color wheel in Photoshop instead of just a select square palette -- it gives you more options. I think my favorite part of this one, though, is the addendum under criterion warning (rather sarcastically) that people will "eagerly seize upon unfamiliar words and phrases, which somehow are thought to invest our thoughts with the appearance of learnedness."

Which is ... kind of the whole point of the book, isn't it?
Apr 20, 2010 Linda rated it 3 of 5 stars
Recommended to Linda by: in books to scan for library book sale
Shelves: chcpl
I learned a little, but really don't feel ALL these words are unknown by intelligent people. I did appreciate explanations for a few words which are confused with one another (or misused - i.e. flaunt and flout).
I fashioned myself a lexicographer at one time. I began assembling a collection of word books. This was one of them. Good words here. Nothing wonderful as a book, but good words included.
Jesse Broussard
Still doesn't have half the words used by Pound.
Leo van Halsema
Fits your dictionary needs perfectly.
Huma Rashid
Totally solid.
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