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Book Review: Oxford Essential Dictionary of Difficult Words

The Oxford Essential Dictionary of Difficult Words (Oxford)The Oxford Essential Dictionary of Difficult Words

by Oxford University Press

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This book is a wonder if your style of writing is a bit on the intellectual side or if you want an Anthony Hopkins type of character, ala Silence of the Lambs–educated, professorial, cerebral. Their dialogue and interior monologue must include words that are well-selected, pithy, yet meaningful in their spot. They become the signature of that person and the reader recognizes the character’s appearance on a scene by their speaking style. If that’s not your normal speaking style (as it isn’t for most of us), it can be tricky, but not impossible thanks to this book.

In my case, I love words. I keep a list of my five hundred favorite nerdy words (like abecederian and apocryphal). I enjoy finding that one word to replace ten others–

  • dew point
  • heuristic
  • curmudgeon

…or the exact word to fit a circumstance

  • diaphoretic
  • heterodox
  • palindrome

When I bought this book, I curled up in bed and read it before going to sleep. The beauty of well-selected words is calming. So many of them flow off the tongue as though they should always have been there, in my mind.

  • xenophobic
  • obfuscate
  • bibliophile
  • perspicacity

Oxford Essential Dictionary of Difficult Words also has common words that we-all have likely forgotten–

  • objective
  • pantomime
  • raffish
  • spurious

When I read these, I scratched my head. They aren’t difficult, but–then it struck me–when was the last time I used them?

For more about beautiful words, check out these posts:

I love Words

Is Your Character This Ugly?

I’m Adopting a Word

I Wish I’d Said That

Love is Just a Word

‘Whiffling’ and Other Beautiful Words

Beautiful Words

Seven More Favorite Geek Words

Ten Favorite Geek Words–Part I

Ten Favorite Quotes

Eight Favorite Words–Part III

Ten Favorite Words–Part II


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13 thoughts on “Book Review: Oxford Essential Dictionary of Difficult Words

  1. Pingback: 30 Essential Books for Every Writer « Word Dreams…

  2. You’ve reminded me of another book that I cherish very much that has lots and lots of wonderful out of date words in them. Brewer’s Dictionary of Phrase and Fable. It was given to me on my birthday and I still leaf through it when I need to find the fictional/ historical starting point of a certain turn of phrase or the origins of a word.

    Sometimes it can be very useful for a writer to know the original context a certain phrase was once used in. It could mean using the original meaning instead of the ‘evolved’ one. Words change over time, the way we use them and what they mean can also shift. Think about it, a forgotten word/ phrase could make a dramatic comeback if you include it in your next bestseller.

    The other day I was surfing the web and came across the words ‘Sturm’ and ‘Drang’ (meaning German for Storm and Urge; the name of a movement in German literature and music). I kept thinking I knew that from somewhere and then it hit me; J. K. Rowling named one of her wizarding schools after it (Durmstrang). But she switched the words around a bit to make it different. I believe this is called ‘vesre’, where the syllables are switched around to make the word sound different but familiar at the same time.

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  5. Pingback: 30 Essential Books for Every Writer « Jacqui Murray's WordDreams…

  6. Pingback: 10 Tips Plus One More About Beautiful Words | WordDreams...

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