Bryson's Dictionary for Writers and Editors

Bryson's Dictionary for Writers and Editors

2.6 5
by Bill Bryson

View All Available Formats & Editions

From one of America's most beloved and bestselling authors, a wonderfully useful and readable guide to the problems of the English language most commonly encountered by editors and writers.

What is the difference between “immanent” and “imminent”? What is the singular form of graffiti? What is the difference between “acute”…  See more details below


From one of America's most beloved and bestselling authors, a wonderfully useful and readable guide to the problems of the English language most commonly encountered by editors and writers.

What is the difference between “immanent” and “imminent”? What is the singular form of graffiti? What is the difference between “acute” and “chronic”? What is the former name of “Moldova”? What is the difference between a cardinal number and an ordinal number? One of the English language's most skilled writers answers these and many other questions and guides us all toward precise, mistake-free usage. Covering spelling, capitalization, plurals, hyphens, abbreviations, and foreign names and phrases, Bryson's Dictionary for Writers and Editors will be an indispensable companion for all who care enough about our language not to maul, misuse, or contort it.

This dictionary is an essential guide to the wonderfully disordered thing that is the English language. As Bill Bryson notes, it will provide you with “the answers to all those points of written usage that you kind of know or ought to know but can’t quite remember.”

BONUS MATERIAL: This ebook edition includes an excerpt from Bill Bryson's One Summer.

Read More

Editorial Reviews

Library Journal

The publisher information indicates that this dictionary for writers and editors is a companion volume to Bryson's Dictionary of Troublesome Words(Broadway, 2004). In his preface, though, bestselling creative nonfiction author Bryson (A Walk in the Woods) refers to his book as an updated and new edition, implying that he has dropped the "troublesome" and gotten down to business. However you bill it, it features enough new, relevant material and allows for quick checks on a wide variety of matters: dates for political figures' terms in office, when to use lie and lay, how to make first and subsequent references for tricky names and titles, when to capitalize stilton, etc. A concise appendix puts forth lucid punctuation guidelines, and also included are lists of commonly misspelled words, temperatureconversion tables, and units of currency. While some British guidelines and spellings are noted, this is a primarily Americanized guide. BOTTOM LINE Readers can find similar information online, but Bryson's is a complete and idiosyncratic style guide for writers, journalists, and students. What sets it apart from something like an AP handbook is Bryson himself, who can give even a straightforward reference work some personality; this is a style guide with style. It will be a wellthumbed reference on any writer's desk and an indispensable volume on any library shelf. [Ebk. ISBN 9780767929110]
—Audrey Snowden

From the Publisher
“One of the best guides to usage there is. I cannot imagine an English-speaking person [who] would not rejoice in [it].”
—Katherine A. Powers, Boston Globe

“A reference book with attitude.”
The Gazette (Montreal)

“A worthwhile addition to any writer’s or editor’s reference library.”
Los Angeles Times

“[Bryson is] a world-class grammar maven.”
Seattle Times

Product Details

Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group
Publication date:
Sold by:
Random House
Sales rank:
File size:
1 MB

Read an Excerpt

Bryson's Dictionary for Writers and Editors

By Bill Bryson Broadway

Copyright © 2008 Bill Bryson
All right reserved.

ISBN: 9780767922692


Aachen.  City in Germany; in French, Aix-la-Chapelle.

a/an.  Errors involving the indefinite articles a and an are almost certainly more often a consequence of haste and carelessness than of ignorance. They are especially common when numbers are involved, as here: "Cox will contribute 10 percent of the equity needed to build a $80 million cable system" or "He was assisted initially by two officers from the sheriff's department and a FBI agent." When the first letter of an abbreviation is pronounced as a vowel, as in "FBI," the preceding article should be an, not a.

Aarhus.  City in Denmark; in Danish, erhus.

abacus, pl. abacuses.

abaft.  Toward the stern, or rear, of a ship.


Abbas, Mahmoud.  (1935-) President of Palestinian National Authority (2005-).

ABC.  American Broadcasting Companies (note plural), though the full title is no longer spelled out. It is now part of the Walt Disney Company. The television network is ABC-TV.

abdomen, but abdominal.

Abdulaziz International Airport, King,  Jeddah, Saudi Arabia.

Abdul-Jabbar, Kareem.  (1947-) American basketballplayer; born Lew Alcindor.

aberrant, aberration.


Abidjan.  Capital of Ivory Coast.

ab incunabulis.  (Lat.) "From the cradle."

abiogenesis.  The concept that living matter can arise from nonliving matter; spontaneous generation.

-able.  In adding this suffix to a verb, the general rule is to drop a silent e (livable, lovable) except after a soft g (manageable) or sibilant c (peaceable). When a verb ends with a consonant and a y (justify, indemnify) change the y to i before adding -able (justifiable, indemnifiable). Verbs ending in
-ate drop that syllable before adding -able (appreciable, demonstrable).

-able, -ible.  There are no reliable rules for knowing when a word ends in -able and when in -ible; see Appendix for a list of some of the more frequently confused spellings.

ab origine.  (Lat.) "From the beginning."



abrogate.  To abolish.

Absalom.  In the Old Testament, third son of David.

Absalom, Absalom!.  Novel by William Faulkner (1936).

Absaroka Range,  Rocky Mountains.




Abu Dhabi.  Capital city of and state in the United Arab Emirates.

Abuja.  Capital of Nigeria.

Abu Simbel,  Egypt; site of temples built by Ramses II.

abyss, abyssal, but abysmal.

Abyssinia. Former name of Ethiopia.


Académie française.  French literary society of forty members who act as guardians of the French language; in English contexts, Franeaise is usually capitalized.

Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences.  Institution responsible for the Oscars.

a capella.  Singing without musical accompaniment.

Acapulco, Mexico.  Officially, Acapulco de Juarez.

Accademia della Crusca.  Italian literary academy.




acciaccatura.  Grace note in music.

accidentally.  Not -tly.


accommodate.  Very often misspelled: note -cc-, -mm-.

accompanist.  Not -iest.


Accra.  Capital of Ghana.

Acheson, Dean.  (1893-1971) American diplomat and politician; secretary of state, 1949-53.

Achilles.  King of the Myrmidons, most famous of the Greek heroes of the Trojan War.

Achilles’ heel. (Apos.)


Excerpted from Bryson's Dictionary for Writers and Editors by Bill Bryson Copyright © 2008 by Bill Bryson. Excerpted by permission.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

Read More

Customer Reviews

Average Review:

Write a Review

and post it to your social network


Most Helpful Customer Reviews

See all customer reviews >

Bryson's Dictionary for Writers and Editors 2.6 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 5 reviews.
NY_Reader1 More than 1 year ago
Not for everybody, but Bryson can make even this subject interesting. With respect to the previous review: Read a few pages before you buy a book. It'll save you anguish and money.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
mslyfe3 More than 1 year ago
I was under the impression that this dictionary included words that are obsolete that are normally used in historical romances. I was sorely disappointed because there are select words included in this dictionary which made this a waste of my money. I suggest that anyone purchasing this dictionary should be mindful of the type of words they wish to define.