We all know what the words cat and dog and mother and tree mean. What we really need is a dictionary that helps us with the tough words, like elucubrate, or demesne, or cynosure. True, a standard dictionary can bail us out when we run across a tough word at home or in a library. But we often read elsewhere--in a doctor's waiting room or on a plane, or while on vacation. What do we do then?
The Oxford Dictionary of Difficult Words is designed to meet this need. A portable reference, it features more than 10,000 entries that focus exclusively on words that, while outside most people's working vocabulary, are often encountered in literature, in technical writings (such as computing or medical terminology), and in such diverse subject areas as law, philosophy, and art. Entries contain pronunciations, parts of speech, concise definitions, example sentences showing the word used in context, and etymologies when a word's history may shed light on its meaning. Special attention is given to easily confused or closely related words (such as efficacious, effective, effectual, and efficient, or cynical, sarcastic, sardonic, and ironic). Usage notes are provided to ensure that readers know how to integrate these words into their vocabularies for more precision and power in speech and writing.
Drawing on Oxford's exclusive 200-million-word database of contemporary English, this handy volume helps us with the words that lie just outside our vocabulary.