Date: Tue, 19 Mar 1996 23:45:57 +1608


Subject: Re: AHD 2nd edition

I'm trying to track down the second edition of the American Heritage

Dictionary. I was told it has more extensive etymological information

than most desktop dictionaries. Is this true and is it still

available somewhere?

I think you must have heard that about the 1st. I think I still have two

copies. I'll have to check some boxes I brought home from the office. If

I have two, I'll send you one. I haven't compared the 1st and 3rd, but I'd

expect the 3rd to have more than the 1st and to have corrected some errors.

Even so, I still like the 1st. The 2nd removed the appendix of

Indo-European roots, and linguists howled, though freshman comp teachers

didn't care. So in 1985 Houghton Mifflin put out a paperback "The American

Heritage Dictionary of Indo-European Roots," which sort of made up for

their mistake. Unfortunately that little book is out of print and out of

stock. I met an (East) Indian scholar who had a use for the book about

five years ago and asked our Houghton book rep if he could get me a copy.

He told me they were totally out of stock, but he managed to talk someone

out of a copy from his office. I did find out that this 1985 book had some

revisions that reflected Calvert Watkins' later research, and perhaps

responses to emendations sent in by users of AHS1. Do you have AHD3? If I

can, I'll send you the AHS1, because I think language scholars should have

copies of different editions of the major dictionaries; I now wish I'd

systematically collected dictionaries over the years. Houghton also set a

new trend with a 1970s printing of AHD1. Previously, dictionary publishers

used some shade of blue to make their product look a little like G&C

Merriam's real Webster's, but AHD came out in red. Several other

companies, including Merriam, started using red too. Dictionaries are

historical documents, you know, not just guides to usage and


Donald M. Lance, University of Missouri