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What do you get when you combine a dictionary with an encyclopedia?

One answer is "The Oxford Reference Dictionary," edited by Joyce M. Hawkins. The volume, issued by Oxford University Press, is one of several interesting reference books to appear recently.Hawkins, in a preface, describes the hybrid as a book "designed to function both as a dictionary and as a concise encyclopedia. It includes biographical, historical and geographical entries, with over 6,000 articles on a wide variety of topics - arts, sciences, philosophy, religion, mythology, technology, sport - in addition to conventional lexical material."

Here are some other new volumes for your reference shelf:

-"Webster's Word Histories" (Merriam-Webster): The book answers questions concerning word origins and is described by company president William A. Llewellyn as "an entertaining and informative guide to the science of etymology or, quite simply, where our words come from and how their meanings have grown."

-Want to know which book and author won the Pulitzer Prize for Letters in 1934? A quick look in "The New York Public Library Desk Reference" (Webster's New World) shows that the honor went to Caroline Miller for "Lamb in His Bosom." The hefty volume also reveals how to roast a chicken and how to get a travel visa, among many other things.

-Another book on the very hefty side has been issued by ECAM Publications Inc. It's called "Chronicle of America" and it "narrates the dramatic story of the United States in a you-are-there style . . . with over 8,000 events reported in chronological order." It also contains more than 2,500 illustrations.

-Another handsome, well-illustrated book to refer to is Weidenfeld & Nicolson's "The Atlas of Legendary Places" by James Harpur and Jennifer Westwood. The book is a "selection of sites throughout the world which have become the stuff of legend." The places include the legendary Camelot and Atlantis, as well as the very real Mont-St.-Michel in France and India's Taj Mahal.