Cover: Dictionary of American Regional English: Volume I: A–C, from Harvard University PressCover: Dictionary of American Regional English: Volume I: A–C in HARDCOVER

Dictionary of American Regional English: Volume I: A–C

Editor-in-chief Frederic G. Cassidy

Product Details


$130.00 • £113.95 • €118.95

ISBN 9780674205116

Publication Date: 01/01/1985


1064 pages

8-1/2 x 11 inches

540 maps

Belknap Press

Dictionary of American Regional English


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DARE, as it is known, has the information you will need to bush around (discuss) the difference between bush-busters (hillbillies) and bush eels (rattlesnakes). One could make a sport out of guessing the meanings of DARE entries… Every page of DARE shows the absolute centrality of metaphor and other forms of verbal figuration to colloquial speech. Naming storms for the damage they do, or foods for what they do to your stomach, or foreigners for the strange traits they exhibit—these tendencies suggest just how much of reality is established after the fact, in conversations about shared experience by people with a common world of reference… Because of its reliance on and scrupulous recording of personal testimony, DARE is one of the most poignant reference books ever compiled, a great exploration of the far reaches and dark corners of American cultural memory… This massive cataract of language is enough to make one cry uncle, or calf rope, or barley out, or I want a crab apple—or a perennial favorite, never out of style for long: mama.—Dan Chiasson, Harper’s

A staggering work of collective scholarship… DARE is not only a reference treasure for the scholar and the general word lover, it’s a lode for raiding parties by specialists of all kinds… Most of all, DARE is evidence that American speech will never become stale and fusty, that the great linguistic homogenization of television is a myth.—Henry Kisor, The Chicago Sun-Times

A monumental and impressive work.—Daniel F. Phelan, Language and Linguistics

Because these volumes are the most complete lexical records we have of the American experience, much of the history and contemporary condition of American society can be found in their pages… We are very fortunate to have DARE; it is not a dictionary; it is a national treasure.—Edward Callary, Language in Society

It already seems clear that…the dictionary will rank as one of the glories of contemporary American scholarship… It is endlessly rewarding to dip into, and if you look up a particular word or phrase you are in constant danger of being seduced to something else… It is a work to consult, and a work to savor—a work to last a lifetime.—John Gross, The New York Times

This long-awaited, definitive and fascinating Dictionary of American Regional English [DARE]…is all we had hoped for and more. It includes the regional and folk language, past and present, of the old and the young, men and women, white and black, the rural and the urban, from all walks of life… Although DARE will be one of the most scholarly, comprehensive and detailed dictionaries ever completed…it will also be one of the easiest and most enjoyable to use or browse in… This is an exciting, lasting work of useful scholarship accomplished with excellence, a work that scholars and laypeople alike will study, use and enjoy for generations.—Stuart B. Flexner, The New York Times Book Review

More than 20 years in the making, this ‘brand-fire-new’ tome is loaded with the ‘bare-naked’ speech that Americans really use when they ‘bump their gums’ with or without having had some ‘sweet spirits o’ cats-a-fightin’’ or ‘conversation fluid’ to make their ‘chin music’ happen. The result is a testimonial to the metaphor-making power of the American language at its most vigorous.Newsweek

To open its pages is to thrill at the exploration of the New World and to trace the course of American history through its language… Its editors, led by Professor Frederic G. Cassidy, have caught the native poetry of America on every page.—Fred Strebeigh, Smithsonian

In its scope and thoroughness, Cassidy’s dictionary is unmatched as a kind of refuge for colloquialisms threatened with extinction… Writers, etymologists and other devotees of verbal arcana have never been given a richer browsing ground. But while they are discovering that a blind tiger is a place to buy and drink moonshine, or that there are 176 names for dust balls under the bed, they are also bound to be awed by the dictionary’s staggering scholarship.—Ezra Bowen, Time

Proof that tourism, television and technological change haven’t rounded off all the gaudy and gracious edges of the way we talk.—L. A. Jolidon, USA Today

Awards & Accolades

  • 1986 David H. Russell Award for Distinguished Research in the Teaching of English, National Council of Teachers of English
  • 1985 Best Humanities Book Award, Professional & Scholarly Division, Association of American Publishers

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