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Acronyms. Initialisms & Abbreviations Dictionary (Twenty-third Edition 1997) (3 Parts). Ref. P 365 .A28 1997. Reverse Acronyms, Initialisms & Abbreviations Dictionary (Nineteenth Edition 1995) (3 Parts). Edited by Jennifer Mossman. Detroit, MI: Gale Research Co., 1994. Ref. P 365 .A28 1995.
This dictionary gives the meaning of over 300,000 acronyms, initialism and abbreviations from all fields. The companion reverse volumes are arranged by meaning and give the appropriate acronym or initialism.

De Sola, Ralph. Abbreviations Dictionary (Augmented International Seventh Edition). New York: Elsevier, 1986. Ref. PE 1693 .D4 1986.
Explains abbreviations, acronyms, appellations, contractions and geographical equivalents. Entries are arranged alphabetically. Has separate lists for such categories as airports of the world and numbered abbreviations.


Unabridged dictionaries can be found on the atlas case as well as in the reference room stacks in PE 1625. A selection of abridged dictionaries is kept behind the reference desk. We also have specialized dictionaries, such as a reprint of James Buchanan's Dictionary from 1757 (PE 1620 .B8 1757a).


The American Heritage Dictionary of Indo-European Roots. Revised and edited by Calvert Watkins. Boston: Houghton Mifflin Company, 1985. Ref. P 615 .A43 1985.
"A revised and expanded version of the Appendix of Indo-European Roots in The American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language, published in 1969." Under each entry it gives a definition, words based on the root and an etymology of the root.

Partridge, Eric. Origins: A Short Etymological Dictionary of Modern English. New York: Macmillan Company, 1958. Ref. PE 1580 .P3 1959.
Gives origins of many English words. The number of entries is comparativley small but it "treats all important words comprehensively and thoroughly."

The Oxford English Dictionary (Second Edition). Prepared by J. A. Simpson and E. S. C. Weiner. Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1989. (20 volumes). Ref. PE 1625 .O87 1989.
Besides serving as a regular dictionary, the Oxford English Dictionary has an extensive morphology for each word, including the actual origin of the word, its subsequent history and miscellaneous facts about the history of the word.

Shipley, Joseph T. The Origins of English Words. Baltimore, MD: The Johns Hopkins University Press, 1984. Ref. PE 1571 .S46 1984.
Alphabetical arrangement of Indo-European roots. Under each entry discusses words and phrases that came from the root. Has an index of English words indicating the root(s) under which each word appears.

Foreign Language Dictionaries

We have an extensive collection of foreign language dictionaries, covering languages ranging from Albanian (PG 9591 .D7 1957) to Samoan (PL6501 .Z5 M5). The Cassell's series covers the more commonly used languages such as Italian (PC 1640 .C33 1959). French (PC 2640 .C3 1962), and Spanish (PS 4640 .C35 1960).

Guinagh, Kevin. Dictionary of Foreign Phrases and Abbreviations (Third Edition). New York: H.W. Wilson Company, 1983. Ref. PE 1670 .G8 1983.
"Has been compiled to aid those who wish to know the meaning of foreign expressions in what they hear or read." Defines foreign phrases and abbreviations that are often used in English works. Includes quotes from many different languages, with Latin and French predominating.


Most dictionaries give the correct pronunciation of a word but there are also special dictionaries for pronunciation.

Lass, Abraham and Lass, Betty. Dictionary of Pronunciation. New York: Quadrangle/The New York Times Book Co., 1976. Ref. PE 1137 .L38.
Contains 8,000 words that "pose various kinds pronunciation problems for all sorts of people." Gives the possible pronunciations recorded in four major dictionaries and tells how many of the dictionaries agree with each pronunciation. Indicates preferred pronunciations. Pronunciation key appears on each page.


Fergusson, Rosalind. The Penguin Rhyming Dictionary. Middlesex, England: Penguin Books, Ltd., 1985 Ref. PE 1519 .F4 1985.
Includes all the words one would expect to find in a standard English dictionary -- except those with no rhymes. Words which rhyme are grouped together. An alphabetic index directs the users to the proper group. Short definitions are given for the more obscure words.

Slang Words, Expressions, and Euphemisms

Ciardi, John. A Second Browser's Dictionary and Native's Guide to the Unknown American Language. New York: Harper & Row, 1983. Ref. PE 1574 .C56 1983.
Gives definitions, origins, history of and comments on words, mainly slang words, euphemism and unusual words and phrases.

New Dictionary of American Slang. Edited by Robert Chapman. New York: Harper & Row,1986. Ref.PE 2846 .C46 1986.
Up-to-date. Entries include defintions and quotations. Often gives the social group and time period in which the word or phrase originated. Aim was to make a dictionary of current American slang but some older terms are included. Based on Wentworth's Dictionary of American Slang (PE 2846 .W4 1975).

Partridge, Eric A Dictionary of Slang and Unconventional English (Eighth Edition). New York: Macmillian Publising Co., 1984. Ref. PE 3721 .P3 1984.
Standard slang dictionary. Concentrates on British slang, including many older terms. Gives the date when the word or term was first used (if known).

Picturesque Expressions: A Thematic Dictionary. Edited by Laurence Urdang. Detroit, MI: Gale Research Company, 1980. Ref. PE 1689 .P5.
Defines more than 3,000 expressions and gives their origins. Expressions are grouped by topic, such as "mischief" or " physical appearance," "making the book similar in function to a thesaurus." Includes an index to the phrases.

Rawson, Hugh. A Dictionary of Euphemisms and Other Doubletalk. New York: Crown Publishers Inc., 1981. Ref. PE 1449 .R34 1981.
Includes both positive and negative euphemisms. Gives definitions, discusses where the term originated, how it is used and other related terms. Usually gives quotations using the euphemism.

Synonyms and Antonyms

Maggio, Rosalie. The Nonsexist Word Finder: A Dictionary of Gender-Free Usage. Phoenix: Oryx Press. 1987. Ref. PE 1689 .M23 1987.
"Designed to help writers solve the recurring problems created by sexist language." Gives alternatives for sexist words and phrases (i.e., "act like a man"). Also contains nonsexist words that could be mistaken for sexist words ("manipulate." from the Latin for hand). Appendix includes articles on nonsexist writing. Also has a bibliography.

The Random House Thesaurus (College Edition). Edited by Jess Stein and Stuart Berg Flexner. New York: Random House. 1984. Ref. PE 1591 .R28 1984.
Helps you find "the most effective word to express a thought." Words are arranged alphabetically. Also includes antonyms for each entry.

Roget's International Thesaurus (Fourth Edition). Revised by Robert L. Chapman. New York: Thomas Y. Crowell Company, 1977. Ref. PE 1591 .R73 1977x.
"Has a text of about 250,000 words and phrases, arranged in categories by their meanings, and a comprehensive index." Terms within a category are organized by part of speech. Includes a synopsis of categories.


Fowler, H.W. A Dictionary of Modern English Usage (Second Edition). London: Oxford University Press, 1965. Ref. PE 1628 .F65 1965.
Mostly concerned with British usage. Covers word usage, formation of words and their spelling, pronunciation, punctuation and typography. Also contains extended entries on some topics such as the use of the word "like" and headline language.

Morris, William and Morris, Mary. Harper Dictionary of Contemporary Usage (Second Edition). New York: Harper & Row, 1985. Ref. PE 1680 .M59 1985.
Purpose is "to show the standards of linguistic usage adhered to by those who use the language well." Gives correct usage of terms, British and American meanings of words, explains slang terms, gives pronunciation of terms and explains what terms related to language mean (i.e., adverb).

Word Origins

Hendrickson, Robert. Human Words. Philadelphia: Chilton Book Co., 1972. Ref. PE 1596 .H4.
Includes more than 3,500 words whose origin comes from the name of a real person, group of people or animal endowed with human characteristics. Entires, some rather lengthy, tell about the person and how his name became part of the language.

Morris, William and Morris, Mary. Morris Dictionary of Word and Phrase Origins. New York: Harper & Row. 1977. Ref. PE 1580 .M6 1977.
Aim "is to trace the histories of several thousand of the more interesting English words and phrases." Also gives definitions.

Compiled by Kelly Nagle, Summer 1988
Revised 1998

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