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What Is DARE?

The Dictionary of American Regional English (DARE) is a multi-volume reference work that documents words, phrases, and pronunciations that vary from one place to another place across the United States... read more...

On Beyond Z!


Zydeco is not the end. 

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Word Tree

In 1992, DARE founder Frederic G. Cassidy contributed DARE materials for the Word Tree exhibit, which illustrates words that have come into American English from languages all over the world. The exhibit is at the Ellis Island Immigration Museum, and is still available for viewing today.

DARE Volumes displayed

The full set of printed Volumes I-VI with the updated book jackets

Cathy Attig, DARE Technical Typist and Production Assistant, found a few historical gems in her office which she put on display before retiring. We're calling it "The Technology Museum", and it is full of once-cutting-edge tools and instruments used to improve and enhance the day-to-day operations at DARE. And no, she didn't shrink—she's holding a double-sided floppy disk from ancient times, the 1980s (technologically speaking). We'll be posting more photos from Cathy's "Technology Museum" soon. Stay tuned!

Brontë Wieland helped prepare the 1965–70 fieldworkers' audio recordings (DARE Tapes) by removing personal or sensitive information through a project internally (and facetiously) known as "the Bleeping Project."

Carrie Roy, Ph.D. Artist and Text Analyst, collaborated with DARE to create these extraordinary pieces exploring vocabularies, texts, and statistics. Check out the full, online exhibition at

There is much to interact with in the DARE-inspired, book art installation Voices: A Sculptural Book, recently on display at the UW–Milwaukee Union Art Gallery as part of the exhibition Bound and Beyond: Structure in Book Art. Chief Editor Joan Houston Hall participated in an artist panel on Friday, October 3, 2014 at UWM. From left to right: Laura Sims, Gallery Manager; Hall; Kristen Thielking, Voices co-creator, multi-media collaborative artist, and art faculty member at UW–Stevens Point; Max Yela, panel presenter, head of the Special Collections at UWM, and adjunct instructor of book arts in the Dept. of Art and Design; Kevin Brunett, Voices co-creator, multi-media collaborative artist, and art faculty member at UW–Stevens Point.  See more photos or watch a video about the installation. Photo courtesy of George Hall.

Jim Peck, host of the Milwaukee Public Television program "I Remember," interviews Joan Houston Hall. The program is now  available  MPTV/I Remember/program. Photo courtesy of George E. Hall

Joan Houston Hall and Luanne von Schneidemesser at the Dictionary Society of North America (DSNA) Conference in Vancouver, June 2015

The Words Count Exhibit was on display at the University of Denver from March through July of 2015 under the name "Reduction/Revelation."  Former DARE Project Assistant Erin Meyer, who is now a librarian at the university, collaborated with DARE staff and Artist/Text Analyst Carrie Roy. Roy also presented a talk about the project. See more photos.

The Words Count: A Rantum Scoot through DARE exhibition returns to Madison. Go check it out at Memorial Library on the UW–Madison campus from Nov. 2–Dec. 30, 2015. See more photos.

DARE in the Media

Words Count: A Rantum Scoot through DARE, Inside UW-Madison, November 10, 2015
Words Count: A Rantum Scoot through DARE, Library News & Events, UW-Madison Libraries, November 2, 2015
‘Tricks or Treats’ Goes Singular, Wall Street Journal, October 30, 2015

What are people saying about DARE?

"The digital DARE contains all the material from the print version and is an amazing database. . . . The detailed work that made the print DARE a major research source is mirrored in the digital version. Ideally, all academic and large public libraries should subscribe to this fantastic resource, if budget allows."

Christine Bulson Booklist

“Recently in the language world, something happened that might be described as the Super Bowl, the Olympics, the Fourth of July, New Year’s, three scoops of ice cream, and a new kitten all rolled into one…I’m talking about the fact that the magnificent six volume Dictionary of American Regional English is now available online.”

Martha Barnette “A Way with Words”

“Touring the Dictionary of American Regional English is a road trip of the mind from sea to shining sea. . . . It speaks with authority about American regional speech and has also captured the popular imagination. It is a peerless resource for scholars, but at the same time delivers accurate information about regional vocabulary to laypersons who, until DARE, could not count on access to it.”

Michael Adams, Humanities

“Can a person fall in love with a dictionary? If the work in question is the Dictionary of American Regional English, which has just published its fifth volume, Sl-Z, the answer appears to be yes.”

Heidi Landecker, The Chronicle of Higher Education

“A great project on how Americans speak—make that the great project on how Americans speak—is reaching completion this spring. . . . DARE stands alone as the most exhaustive record of regional speech in America, each page bursting with geographically nuanced information about the country’s diverse lexicon. It’s a joy to page through: Where else would you learn that snuff for chewing is called snoose in the Pacific Northwest, and also goes by the name Swedish condition powder?”

Ben Zimmer, Boston Globe

“For scholars of American English, this volume and the series it completes are a hoard of riches. . . . It is a repository of who we have been as a people, and who we are.”

John E. McIntyre, Baltimore Sun

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