A good general dictionary
with some annoying quirk
s, limited in some respects, but invaluable
s and Scrabble
. First for its compass
: although quite small for a dictionary, and easily carried, a page-by-page comparison shows it has about as many words as the huge two-volume Shorter Oxford
It achieves this by omitting all illustrative quotation, and paring the senses and shades back to the briefest of mentions. It does not omit shades of meaning, but they zip by very quickly. A typical entry reads
monkey, mungk'i, n. any mammal of the Primates except man and (usually) the anthropoid apes: an ape: a name of contempt, esp. for a mischievous person, also of playful endearment: the falling weight of a pile-driver: a large hammer for driving bolts: (slang) 500 pounds, or dollars: (slang) anger: a liquor-vessel of various kinds...
and so on and so on, so if you have a crossword where the answer is some kind of barrel
perhaps, but the only word that fits is MONKEY
, a quick scan of Chambers reveals that there is such a thing.
It was originally published as Chambers's Twentieth-Century Dictionary in Edinburgh in 1901, and it retains a characteristically Scottish cast in some respects. (The indications of pronunciation sometimes try to cover too many varieties of British English; it clearly wasn't done in London or Oxford.) The name of modern editions is Chambers, no longer Chambers's.
It is also famed for a few of its jokes: éclair, a cake, long in shape but short in duration, with cream filling and chocolate icing; double-locked, locked with two locks or bolts: locked by two turns of the key, as in very few locks but many novels.
It is regarded as authoritative for word-games such as Scrabble, in British-spelling English; apart from its scope and its portability, it has its common-noun headwords in lower-case, so they can be distinguished from disallowed proper names. Thanks to Albert Herring for this point.