When you buy a pair of shoes, you try them on first, am I wrong? Before selecting a cantaloupe or honeydew melon down at the Try 'N' Save, you give it the *thump!* test and also take a little snifferootie right at the tip where the stem was cut off. A road test before purchasing a car or truck is certainly a great idea.
But let's say you're going out to buy yourself a new dictionary. You know why; the old one is a bit out of date, showing countries in Africa that have changed their name seven times since it was published, and it does not list new-fangled words such as "computer," "microwave," and "birther". (PS Don't believe that rumor running 'round that holds that "gullible" is not really a word and is not really in the dictionary.)
Here's a simple test. Grab ahold of that big hefty hearty meatloaf of a dictionary down at the Barnes & Whoosit and open to the "E" section. Look for the word "eleemosynary," which I first encountered in one of the alliterative, addle-pated admonitory assaults launched by disgraced former Vice President Spiro T. Agnew some years ago. It means charitable, but it's a perfectly cromulent word and if the dictionary you are considering purchasing includes it in its lexicon, you have made an excellent selection.
It's a simple way to tell!
Coming soon: How to tell if your waffles are sufficiently syruped.