As in science and mathematics, new materials and methods are being introduced into language arts courses, whether in the area of traditional grammar, trans-formational grammar, or some other type based on linguistic study. In line with this trend, we have included features and materials once thought too advanced for the elementary level. They have been very carefully adapted to the understanding of the elementary student, both in the presentation of facts and in the wording. They make up an unusual body of ma­terial readily available for various sorts of word studies.

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Take etymology as an example. The etymologies in a typical college dictionary, showing unknown source words from languages scarcely heard of by the aver-age elementary student, would of course be meaningless at the elementary level. But we have put such basic information in simple words, with no technical terms, no abbreviations, and no unglossed source words from other languages. The Harcourt Brace School Dictionary has over 500 etymologies systematically chosen to show English words borrowed from more than fifteen other languages and to illustrate some twenty of the important processes of word formation, change, and development.

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With the same sort of simple treatment, additional notes distinguish between the meanings of synonyms and point out differences in force or color. Other notes clearly differentiate unrelated words likely to be confused because of a similarity of sound or appearance. Still further notes give guidance on English usage and levels of language. The usefulness of these ma­terials, either for individual reference or for classroom discussion, scarcely needs to be pointed out.

Because this dictionary is intended for use across the rather broad span of five grades (4-8), there will be a considerable difference in the maturity of students at opposite ends of this span. To accom­modate both groups, the section on how to use the dictionary is divided into two parts. The first part, for use by beginners in the fourth and fifth grades, explains the basic dictionary skills. The second part, for students in the sixth, seventh, and eighth grades, explains more advanced dictionary uses. This arrangement of teaching material makes it easy to use both in class instruction and for individual study. The front matter also explains additional features of the dictionary omit­ted here because of lack of space.

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The Harcourt Brace School Dictionary is up to date, but it is orthodox rather than radical in its arrangement and pres­entation of the usual, expected informa­tion. Most of the other good elementary dictionaries are substantially similar in these respects, though without a few of the refinements put to use here. The Harcourt Brace School Dictionary has its entries arranged in a single, convenient alphabetical list. Its system of showing pronunciations uses only a few easily dis­tinguished diacritical marks and is simple to learn and use. Inflectional forms that are irregular or easily confused are shown early in the entry where they cannot be mistaken for idioms or run-on derivatives. Definitions are followed by illustrative phrases or sentences whenever these are helpful. The pictures, maps, and diagrams have been drawn especially for this book.

Many people have been helpful to us in the preparation of this dictionary. We have long since given our thanks directly to them, but we wish to thank publicly a few of them.

First, we want to thank Maria Cimino, Librarian-in-charge, Central Children's Room, the New York Public Library, whose knowledge and experience proved invaluable in helping to shape and balance the large list of juvenile books we read for vocabulary.

Second, we want to thank all of the members of our three boards for their untiring interest, their help, and their patience during the long months in which this dictionary was being built. They have contributed much, and they have our sincere gratitude.


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The first section, "How to Use Your Dictionary," explained many things about this book: how to find a word; how to use the code system in the main entry; how to get information from the entry about spelling, pronunciation, inflectional forms, meanings, and so on. With these skills, you can use your dictionary. You can look up a word and learn enough about it so that you can under­stand it and use it. But you may not be learning everything about the word that the dictionary has to offer. Often there is more. To make full use of your dictionary, you will want this additional information, too.