Garner’s Modern American Usage

Garner, Bryan A. Garner’s Modern American Usage. Fourth ed. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2016.

I use the third (2009) edition, having yet to purchase the new edition.

See my review of the third edition here. And here is another discussion of why I dislike Garner’s approach.

Chicago Manual of Style

The Chicago Manual of Style. Sixteenth ed. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2010.

Probably the most comprehensive American style manual in widespread use. A must-have for professional writers.

Dictionary of the Scots Language

Skretkowicz, Victor. “Dictionary of the Scots Language.” Scottish Language Dictionaries,

This site comprises electronic editions of the two major historical dictionaries of the Scots language: the Dictionary of the Older Scottish Tongue and the Scottish National Dictionary. The first contains information about Scots words in use from the twelfth to the end of the seventeenth centuries (Older Scots); and the second contains information about Scots words in use from the eighteenth century to the present day (modern Scots).

Don’t confuse Scots with Gaelic. Scots is a dialect of English and in the Germanic family of languages. It is widely spoken throughout Scotland. Gaelic is a Celtic language, quite distinct from English, now largely restricted to the remote, highland regions of Scotland.

Official Dictionary of Unofficial English

Barrett, Grant. The Official Dictionary of Unofficial English. New York: McGraw-Hill, 2006.

A great dictionary of neologisms. It’s now out of print, but still available from used booksellers.

Lexicon Balatronicum [Historical]

Dictionary of the Vulgar Tongue (Lexicon Balatronicum). 1985 reprint ed. London: Bibliophile Books, 1811.

An anonymous, and posthumous updating of Grose’s famous slang dictionary. Available online at Project Gutenberg.

Medieval Latin Word-List

Latham, R. E. Revised Medieval Latin Word-List from British and Irish Sources with Supplement. London: Oxford University Press, 1980.

A Latin-English dictionary, but one based on how Latin was used in medieval Britain and Ireland. This volume formed the basis for the full Dictionary of Medieval Latin from British Sources (subscription service). It’s not as complete or, because it’s the initial draft, not as rigorously compiled, but it’s a convenient, inexpensive, one-volume resource.

Guide to Old English

Mitchell, Bruce, and Fred C. Robinson. A Guide to Old English. Eighth ed. Wiley-Blackwell Publishing, 2011.

An introductory text for learning Old English. Complete with readings.

Shorter Oxford English Dictionary

Shorter Oxford English Dictionary. Sixth ed. Two vols. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2007.

The SOED is an abridged version of the larger OED, containing words in use since 1700. In two volumes it is easier to use than the full OED for general queries; the answer sought is less likely to be buried in a lengthy entry. Also, being shorter has allowed the editors to completely update the dictionary over the different editions, meaning it often reflects new scholarship that has yet to be added to its larger cousin.

Merriam-Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary

Merriam-Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary. Eleventh ed. Springfield, Mass.: Merriam-Webster, 2003.

The latest edition of the classic American desktop dictionary. A free version is available online at The full 11th edition is available online as a subscription service.

Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia [Historical]

Whitney, William Dwight, and Benjamin Eli Smith. Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia. Edited by Jeffrey A. Triggs and Sara G. Triggs. 2001 Century Dictionary Online ed. New York: The Century Company, 1889-1909. It can be viewed online here.

This is another significant dictionary of its day, now woefully out of date, but still useful for historical purposes. The bulk of the dictionary was published between 1889-1891. A Cyclopedia of Names was added in 1894 and a two-volume supplement was added in 1909.

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