My Confession

Augustine has his Confessions (the Pine-Coffin translation is the best), and I have mine.

I like paper reference books. I have both a robust thesaurus and a good, intermediate dictionary near my desk which I often consult. They are:

  1. Merriam-Webster Collegiate Dictionary, 11th ed.
  2. Oxford American Writer’s Thesaurus, 3rd ed.

Most people don’t use references like these. If they do, they likely just Google what they want (or, perhaps, Bing it …). I don’t. I use these physical books. A lot. I have an online subscription to the Oxford English Dictionary through one of my seminaries, but I only consult it for deeper matters. For everyday work, I use these two references.

But, I was lamenting recently that my Merriam-Webster is just getting old. The last update was 2003. Now, of course, I can find anything I want online. the collegiate dictionary is updated at But, you see, I don’t want to find it online. I want a physical book I can look at, open, and study.

What to do? I have a 2003 dictionary. Merriam-Webster is the last true lexicon left in America. It seemed I had little choice but to soldier on with my trusty Merriam-Webster Collegiate.

Then, it happened. I was looking for something in my thesaurus just today and noticed it was the Oxford American Writer’s Thesaurus.


Then, I remembered that Oxford puts out a New Oxford American Dictionary (now in its 3rd edition). I hadn’t thought about it much, before. Now, I began thinking about it. I looked it up. Published 2010. Perhaps 33% more word entries than the good ‘ole Merriam-Webster. Larger. Newer. Better. It’s content culled from the two-billion word corpus that underlies the entire Oxford English Dictionary.

I decided I must have it. So, I bought it.

What’s my confession? Just that I bought a new dictionary and I’m happy about it.

That is all.

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