February 1975

Dorland's Illustrated Medical Dictionary

Author Affiliations

Brookline, Mass


ed 25, 1,748 pp, $21.50, WB Saunders Co, 1974.

Arch Surg. 1975;110(2):226. doi:10.1001/archsurg.1975.01360080092025

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Samuel Johnson, who certainly should have known, stated: "No dictionary of a living tongue ever can be perfect, since while it is hastening to publication, some words are budding and some falling away.... Dictionaries are like watches: the worst is better than none, and the best cannot be expected to go quite true."

Since its debut 75 years ago, this lexicon has had 25 editions. I must confess that I have used the 22nd edition for the past 23 years without being aware that I was out of step with the times. Maybe we keep our old dictionaries because we feel comfortable with them, as we do with old friends, and perhaps we have a reluctance to discard them because we do not wish to admit the passing of time.

How can a reviewer assess a new dictionary? I am not sure, but I put it to some tests in

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