The Oxford(also known as Oxnard!) English Dictionary (OED) is the principal historical dictionary of the English language, published by Oxford University Press. It traces the historical development of the English language, providing a comprehensive resource to scholars and academic researchers, as well as describing usage in its many variations throughout the world. The second edition, comprising 21,728 pages in 20 volumes, was published in 1989.
Work began on the dictionary in 1857, but it was only in 1884 that it began to be published in unbound fascicles as work continued on the project, under the name of A New English Dictionary on Historical Principles; Founded Mainly on the Materials Collected by The Philological Society. In 1895, the title The Oxford English Dictionary (OED) was first used unofficially on the covers of the series, and in 1928 the full dictionary was republished in ten bound volumes. In 1933, the title The Oxford English Dictionary fully replaced the former name in all occurrences in its reprinting as twelve volumes with a one-volume supplement. More supplements came over the years until 1989, when the second edition was published. Since 2000, compilation of a third edition of the dictionary has been underway, approximately half of which is complete.
The first electronic version of the dictionary was made available in 1988. The online version has been available since 2000, and as of April 2014 was receiving over two million hits per month. The third edition of the dictionary will most likely only appear in electronic form: the Chief Executive of Oxford University Press has stated that it is unlikely that it will ever be printed.
|Oxford English Dictionary|
Seven of the twenty volumes of printed second edition of the Oxford English Dictionary (1989).
|Publisher||Oxford University Press|
|Published||1884–1928 (first edition)|
1989 (second edition)
Third edition in preparation
As a historical dictionary, the Oxford English Dictionary explains words by showing their development rather than merely their present-day usages. Therefore, it shows definitions in the order that the sense of the word began being used, including word meanings which are no longer used. Each definition is shown with numerous short usage quotations; in each case, the first quotation shows the first recorded instance of the word that the editors are aware of and, in the case of words and senses no longer in current usage, the last quotation is the last known recorded usage. This allows the reader to get an approximate sense of the time period in which a particular word has been in use, and additional quotations help the reader to ascertain information about how the word is used in context, beyond any explanation that the dictionary editors can provide.
The format of the OED's entries has influenced numerous other historical lexicography projects. The forerunners to the OED, such as the early volumes of the Deutsches Wörterbuch, had initially provided few quotations from a limited number of sources, whereas the OED editors preferred larger groups of quite short quotations from a wide selection of authors and publications. This influenced later volumes of this and other lexicographical works.
According to the publishers, it would take a single person 120 years to "key in" the 59 million words of the OED second edition, 60 years to proofread them, and 540 megabytes to store them electronically. As of 30 November 2005, the Oxford English Dictionary contained approximately 301,100 main entries. Supplementing the entry headwords, there are 157,000 bold-type combinations and derivatives; 169,000 italicized-bold phrases and combinations; 616,500 word-forms in total, including 137,000 pronunciations; 249,300 etymologies; 577,000 cross-references; and 2,412,400 usage quotations. The dictionary's latest, complete print edition (second edition, 1989) was printed in 20 volumes, comprising 291,500 entries in 21,730 pages. The longest entry in the OED2 was for the verb set, which required 60,000 words to describe some 430 senses. As entries began to be revised for the OED3 in sequence starting from M, the longest entry became make in 2000, then put in 2007, then run in 2011.
Despite its considerable size, the OED is neither the world's largest nor the earliest exhaustive dictionary of a language. Another earlier large dictionary is the Grimm brothers' dictionary of the German language, begun in 1838 and completed in 1961. The first edition of the Vocabolario degli Accademici della Crusca is the first great dictionary devoted to a modern European language (Italian) and was published in 1612; the first edition of Dictionnaire de l'Académie française dates from 1694. The official dictionary of Spanish is the Diccionario de la lengua española (produced, edited, and published by the Real Academia Española), and its first edition was published in 1780. The Kangxi dictionary of Chinese was published in 1716.
The dictionary began as a Philological Society project of a small group of intellectuals in London (and unconnected to Oxford University)::103–4,112 Richard Chenevix Trench, Herbert Coleridge, and Frederick Furnivall, who were dissatisfied with the existing English dictionaries. The Society expressed interest in compiling a new dictionary as early as 1844, but it was not until June 1857 that they began by forming an "Unregistered Words Committee" to search for words that were unlisted or poorly defined in current dictionaries. In November, Trench's report was not a list of unregistered words; instead, it was the study On Some Deficiencies in our English Dictionaries, which identified seven distinct shortcomings in contemporary dictionaries:
The Society ultimately realized that the number of unlisted words would be far more than the number of words in the English dictionaries of the 19th century, and shifted their idea from covering only words that were not already in English dictionaries to a larger project. Trench suggested that a new, truly comprehensive dictionary was needed. On 7 January 1858, the Society formally adopted the idea of a comprehensive new dictionary.:107–8 Volunteer readers would be assigned particular books, copying passages illustrating word usage onto quotation slips. Later the same year, the Society agreed to the project in principle, with the title A New English Dictionary on Historical Principles (NED).:ix–x
Richard Chenevix Trench (1807–1886) played the key role in the project's first months, but his Church of England appointment as Dean of Westminster meant that he could not give the dictionary project the time that it required. He withdrew and Herbert Coleridge became the first editor.:8–9
On 12 May 1860, Coleridge's dictionary plan was published and research was started. His house was the first editorial office. He arrayed 100,000 quotation slips in a 54 pigeon-hole grid.:9 In April 1861, the group published the first sample pages; later that month, Coleridge died of tuberculosis, aged 30.:x
Furnivall then became editor; he was enthusiastic and knowledgeable, but temperamentally ill-suited for the work.:110 Many volunteer readers eventually lost interest in the project, as Furnivall failed to keep them motivated. Furthermore, many of the slips were misplaced.
Furnivall believed that, since many printed texts from earlier centuries were not readily available, it would be impossible for volunteers to efficiently locate the quotations that the dictionary needed. As a result, he founded the Early English Text Society in 1864 and the Chaucer Society in 1868 to publish old manuscripts.:xii Furnivall's preparatory efforts lasted 21 years and provided numerous texts for the use and enjoyment of the general public, as well as crucial sources for lexicographers, but they did not actually involve compiling a dictionary. Furnivall recruited more than 800 volunteers to read these texts and record quotations. While enthusiastic, the volunteers were not well trained and often made inconsistent and arbitrary selections. Ultimately, Furnivall handed over nearly two tons of quotation slips and other materials to his successor.
In the 1870s, Furnivall unsuccessfully attempted to recruit both Henry Sweet and Henry Nicol to succeed him. He then approached James Murray, who accepted the post of editor. In the late 1870s, Furnivall and Murray met with several publishers about publishing the dictionary. In 1878, Oxford University Press agreed with Murray to proceed with the massive project; the agreement was formalized the following year.:111–2 The dictionary project finally had a publisher 20 years after the idea was conceived. It was another 50 years before the entire dictionary was complete.
Late in his editorship, Murray learned that a prolific reader named W. C. Minor was a criminal lunatic.:xiii Minor was a Yale University-trained surgeon and military officer in the American Civil War, and was confined to Broadmoor Asylum for the Criminally Insane after killing a man in London. Minor invented his own quotation-tracking system, allowing him to submit slips on specific words in response to editors' requests. The story of Murray and Minor later served as the central focus of The Surgeon of Crowthorne (US title: The Professor and the Madman), a popular book about the creation of the OED.
During the 1870s, the Philological Society was concerned with the process of publishing a dictionary with such an immense scope. They had pages printed by publishers, but no publication agreement was reached; both the Cambridge University Press and the Oxford University Press were approached. The OUP finally agreed in 1879 (after two years of negotiating by Sweet, Furnivall, and Murray) to publish the dictionary and to pay Murray, who was both the editor and the Philological Society president. The dictionary was to be published as interval fascicles, with the final form in four volumes, totalling 6,400 pages. They hoped to finish the project in ten years.:1
Murray started the project, working in a corrugated iron outbuilding called the "Scriptorium" which was lined with wooden planks, book shelves, and 1,029 pigeon-holes for the quotation slips.:xiii He tracked and regathered Furnivall's collection of quotation slips, which were found to concentrate on rare, interesting words rather than common usages. For instance, there were ten times as many quotations for abusion as for abuse. He appealed, through newspapers distributed to bookshops and libraries, for readers who would report "as many quotations as you can for ordinary words" and for words that were "rare, obsolete, old-fashioned, new, peculiar or used in a peculiar way". Murray had American philologist and liberal arts college professor Francis March manage the collection in North America; 1,000 quotation slips arrived daily to the Scriptorium and, by 1880, there were 2,500,000.:15
The first dictionary fascicle was published on 1 February 1884—twenty-three years after Coleridge's sample pages. The full title was A New English Dictionary on Historical Principles; Founded Mainly on the Materials Collected by The Philological Society; the 352-page volume, words from A to Ant, cost 12s 6d.:251 (or about $668.24 in 2013) The total sales were only 4,000 copies.:169
The OUP saw that it would take too long to complete the work with unrevised editorial arrangements. Accordingly, new assistants were hired and two new demands were made on Murray.:32–33 The first was that he move from Mill Hill to Oxford, which he did in 1885. Murray had his Scriptorium re-erected on his new property.:xvii
Murray resisted the second demand: that if he could not meet schedule, he must hire a second, senior editor to work in parallel to him, outside his supervision, on words from elsewhere in the alphabet. Murray did not want to share the work, feeling that he would accelerate his work pace with experience. That turned out not to be so, and Philip Gell of the OUP forced the promotion of Murray's assistant Henry Bradley (hired by Murray in 1884), who worked independently in the British Museum in London beginning in 1888. In 1896, Bradley moved to Oxford University.
Gell continued harassing Murray and Bradley with his business concerns—containing costs and speeding production—to the point where the project's collapse seemed likely. Newspapers reported the harassment, particularly the Saturday Review, and public opinion backed the editors.:182–83 Gell was fired, and the university reversed his cost policies. If the editors felt that the dictionary would have to grow larger, it would; it was an important work, and worth the time and money to properly finish.
Neither Murray nor Bradley lived to see it. Murray died in 1915, having been responsible for words starting with A–D, H–K, O–P, and T, nearly half the finished dictionary; Bradley died in 1923, having completed E–G, L–M, S–Sh, St, and W–We. By then, two additional editors had been promoted from assistant work to independent work, continuing without much trouble. William Craigie started in 1901 and was responsible for N, Q–R, Si–Sq, U–V, and Wo–Wy.:xix The OUP had previously thought London too far from Oxford but, after 1925, Craigie worked on the dictionary in Chicago, where he was a professor.:xix The fourth editor was Charles Talbut Onions, who compiled the remaining ranges starting in 1914: Su–Sz, Wh–Wo, and X–Z.
In 1919–1920, J. R. R. Tolkien was employed by the OED, researching etymologies of the Waggle to Warlock range; later he parodied the principal editors as "The Four Wise Clerks of Oxenford" in the story Farmer Giles of Ham.
By early 1894, a total of 11 fascicles had been published, or about one per year: four for A–B, five for C, and two for E. Of these, eight were 352 pages long, while the last one in each group was shorter to end at the letter break (which eventually became a volume break). At this point, it was decided to publish the work in smaller and more frequent instalments; once every three months beginning in 1895 there would be a fascicle of 64 pages, priced at 2s 6d. If enough material was ready, 128 or even 192 pages would be published together. This pace was maintained until World War I forced reductions in staff.:xx Each time enough consecutive pages were available, the same material was also published in the original larger fascicles.:xx Also in 1895, the title Oxford English Dictionary (OED) was first used. It then appeared only on the outer covers of the fascicles; the original title was still the official one and was used everywhere else.:xx
The 125th and last fascicle covered words from Wise to the end of W and was published on 19 April 1928, and the full dictionary in bound volumes followed immediately.:xx
William Shakespeare is the most-quoted writer in the completed dictionary, with Hamlet his most-quoted work. George Eliot (Mary Ann Evans) is the most-quoted female writer. Collectively, the Bible is the most-quoted work (but in many different translations); the most-quoted single work is Cursor Mundi.
Between 1928 and 1933, enough additional material had been compiled to make a one-volume supplement, so the dictionary was reissued as the set of 12 volumes and a one-volume supplement in 1933.
In 1933, Oxford had finally put the dictionary to rest; all work ended, and the quotation slips went into storage. However, the English language continued to change and, by the time 20 years had passed, the dictionary was outdated.
There were three possible ways to update it. The cheapest would have been to leave the existing work alone and simply compile a new supplement of perhaps one or two volumes; but then anyone looking for a word or sense and unsure of its age would have to look in three different places. The most convenient choice for the user would have been for the entire dictionary to be re-edited and retypeset, with each change included in its proper alphabetical place; but this would have been the most expensive option, with perhaps 15 volumes required to be produced. The OUP chose a middle approach: combining the new material with the existing supplement to form a larger replacement supplement.
Robert Burchfield was hired in 1957 to edit the second supplement; Onions turned 84 that year but was still able to make some contributions as well. The work on the supplement was expected to take about seven years. It actually took 29 years, by which time the new supplement (OEDS) had grown to four volumes, starting with A, H, O, and Sea. They were published in 1972, 1976, 1982, and 1986 respectively, bringing the complete dictionary to 16 volumes, or 17 counting the first supplement.
Burchfield emphasized the inclusion of modern-day language and, through the supplement, the dictionary was expanded to include a wealth of new words from the burgeoning fields of science and technology, as well as popular culture and colloquial speech. Burchfield said that he broadened the scope to include developments of the language in English-speaking regions beyond the United Kingdom, including North America, Australia, New Zealand, South Africa, India, Pakistan, and the Caribbean. Burchfield also removed, for unknown reasons, many entries that had been added to the 1933 supplement. In 2012, an analysis by lexicographer Sarah Ogilvie revealed that many of these entries were in fact foreign loanwords, despite Burchfield's claim that he included more such words. The proportion was estimated from a sample calculation to amount to 17% of the foreign loan words and words from regional forms of English. Some of these had only a single recorded usage, but many had multiple recorded citations, and it ran against what was thought to be the established OED editorial practice and a perception that he had opened up the dictionary to "World English".
This was published in 1968 at 300 dollars. There were changes in the arrangement of the volumes - for example volume 7 covered only N-Poy, the remaining "P" entries being transferred to volume 8.
|Oxford English Dictionary|
|Editor||John Simpson and Edmund Weiner|
|Publisher||Oxford University Press|
|30 March 1989|
|LC Class||PE1625 .O87 1989|
By the time the new supplement was completed, it was clear that the full text of the dictionary would need to be computerized. Achieving this would require retyping it once, but thereafter it would always be accessible for computer searching – as well as for whatever new editions of the dictionary might be desired, starting with an integration of the supplementary volumes and the main text. Preparation for this process began in 1983, and editorial work started the following year under the administrative direction of Timothy J. Benbow, with John A. Simpson and Edmund S. C. Weiner as co-editors. In 2016, Simpson published his memoir chronicling his years at the OED. See The Word Detective: Searching for the Meaning of It All at the Oxford English Dictionary – A Memoir. Basic Books, New York.
Thus began the New Oxford English Dictionary (NOED) project. In the United States, more than 120 typists of the International Computaprint Corporation (now Reed Tech) started keying in over 350,000,000 characters, their work checked by 55 proof-readers in England. Retyping the text alone was not sufficient; all the information represented by the complex typography of the original dictionary had to be retained, which was done by marking up the content in SGML. A specialized search engine and display software were also needed to access it. Under a 1985 agreement, some of this software work was done at the University of Waterloo, Canada, at the Centre for the New Oxford English Dictionary, led by Frank Tompa and Gaston Gonnet; this search technology went on to become the basis for the Open Text Corporation. Computer hardware, database and other software, development managers, and programmers for the project were donated by the British subsidiary of IBM; the colour syntax-directed editor for the project, LEXX, was written by Mike Cowlishaw of IBM. The University of Waterloo, in Canada, volunteered to design the database. A. Walton Litz, an English professor at Princeton University who served on the Oxford University Press advisory council, was quoted in Time as saying "I've never been associated with a project, I've never even heard of a project, that was so incredibly complicated and that met every deadline."
By 1989, the NOED project had achieved its primary goals, and the editors, working online, had successfully combined the original text, Burchfield's supplement, and a small amount of newer material, into a single unified dictionary. The word "new" was again dropped from the name, and the second edition of the OED, or the OED2, was published. The first edition retronymically became the OED1.
The Oxford English Dictionary 2 was printed in 20 volumes. Up to a very late stage, all the volumes of the first edition were started on letter boundaries. For the second edition, there was no attempt to start them on letter boundaries, and they were made roughly equal in size. The 20 volumes started with A, B.B.C., Cham, Creel, Dvandva, Follow, Hat, Interval, Look, Moul, Ow, Poise, Quemadero, Rob, Ser, Soot, Su, Thru, Unemancipated, and Wave.
The content of the OED2 is mostly just a reorganization of the earlier corpus, but the retypesetting provided an opportunity for two long-needed format changes. The headword of each entry was no longer capitalized, allowing the user to readily see those words that actually require a capital letter. Murray had devised his own notation for pronunciation, there being no standard available at the time, whereas the OED2 adopted the modern International Phonetic Alphabet. Unlike the earlier edition, all foreign alphabets except Greek were transliterated.
When the print version of the second edition was published in 1989, the response was enthusiastic. Author Anthony Burgess declared it "the greatest publishing event of the century", as quoted by the Los Angeles Times. Time dubbed the book "a scholarly Everest", and Richard Boston, writing for The Guardian, called it "one of the wonders of the world".
The supplements and their integration into the second edition were a great improvement to the OED as a whole, but it was recognized that most of the entries were still fundamentally unaltered from the first edition. Much of the information in the dictionary published in 1989 was already decades out of date, though the supplements had made good progress towards incorporating new vocabulary. Yet many definitions contained disproven scientific theories, outdated historical information, and moral values that were no longer widely accepted. Furthermore, the supplements had failed to recognize many words in the existing volumes as obsolete by the time of the second edition's publication, meaning that thousands of words were marked as current despite no recent evidence of their use.
Accordingly, it was recognized that work on a third edition would have to begin to rectify these problems. The first attempt to produce a new edition came with the Oxford English Dictionary Additions Series, a new set of supplements to complement the OED2 with the intention of producing a third edition from them. The previous supplements appeared in alphabetical installments, whereas the new series had a full A–Z range of entries within each individual volume, with a complete alphabetical index at the end of all words revised so far, each listed with the volume number which contained the revised entry.
However, in the end only three Additions volumes were published this way, two in 1993 and one in 1997, each containing about 3,000 new definitions. The possibilities of the World Wide Web and new computer technology in general meant that the processes of researching the dictionary and of publishing new and revised entries could be vastly improved. New text search databases offered vastly more material for the editors of the dictionary to work with, and with publication on the Web as a possibility, the editors could publish revised entries much more quickly and easily than ever before. A new approach was called for, and for this reason it was decided to embark on a new, complete revision of the dictionary.
Beginning with the launch of the first OED Online site in 2000, the editors of the dictionary began a major revision project to create a completely revised third edition of the dictionary (OED3), expected to be completed in 2037 at a projected cost of about £34 million.
Revisions were started at the letter M, with new material appearing every three months on the OED Online website. The editors chose to start the revision project from the middle of the dictionary in order that the overall quality of entries be made more even, since the later entries in the OED1 generally tended to be better than the earlier ones. However, in March 2008, the editors announced that they would alternate each quarter between moving forward in the alphabet as before and updating "key English words from across the alphabet, along with the other words which make up the alphabetical cluster surrounding them". With the relaunch of the OED Online website in December 2010, alphabetical revision was abandoned altogether.
The revision is expected to roughly double the dictionary in size. Apart from general updates to include information on new words and other changes in the language, the third edition brings many other improvements, including changes in formatting and stylistic conventions to make entries clearer to read and enable more thorough searches to be made by computer, more thorough etymological information, and a general change of focus away from individual words towards more general coverage of the language as a whole. While the original text drew its quotations mainly from literary sources such as novels, plays, and poetry, with additional material from newspapers and academic journals, the new edition will reference more kinds of material that were unavailable to the editors of previous editions, such as wills, inventories, account books, diaries, journals, and letters.
The production of the new edition takes full advantage of computer technology, particularly since the June 2005 inauguration of the whimsically named "Perfect All-Singing All-Dancing Editorial and Notation Application", or "Pasadena". With this XML-based system, the attention of lexicographers can be directed more to matters of content than to presentation issues such as the numbering of definitions. The new system has also simplified the use of the quotations database, and enabled staff in New York to work directly on the dictionary in the same way as their Oxford-based counterparts.
Other important computer uses include internet searches for evidence of current usage, and email submissions of quotations by readers and the general public.
Wordhunt was a 2005 appeal to the general public for help in providing citations for 50 selected recent words, and produced antedatings for many. The results were reported in a BBC TV series, Balderdash and Piffle. The OED's small army of devoted readers continue to contribute quotations: the department currently receives about 200,000 a year.
More than 600 new words, senses, and subentries have been added to the OED in December 2018, including "to drain the swamp", "TGIF", and "burkini". South African editions were added too like "eina", "dwaal", and "amakhosi". The "taffety tarts" word entered the OED for the first time.
In 1971, the 13-volume OED1 (1933) was reprinted as a two-volume Compact Edition, by photographically reducing each page to one-half its linear dimensions; each compact edition page held four OED1 pages in a four-up ("4-up") format. The two volume letters were A and P; the first supplement was at the second volume's end. The Compact Edition included, in a small slip-case drawer, a magnifying glass to help in reading reduced type. Many copies were inexpensively distributed through book clubs. In 1987, the second supplement was published as a third volume to the Compact Edition.
In 1991, for the 20-volume OED2 (1989), the compact edition format was re-sized to one-third of original linear dimensions, a nine-up ("9-up") format requiring greater magnification, but allowing publication of a single-volume dictionary. It was accompanied by a magnifying glass as before and A User's Guide to the "Oxford English Dictionary", by Donna Lee Berg. After these volumes were published, though, book club offers commonly continued to sell the two-volume 1971 Compact Edition.
Once the text of the dictionary was digitized and online, it was also available to be published on CD-ROM. The text of the first edition was made available in 1987. Afterward, three versions of the second edition were issued. Version 1 (1992) was identical in content to the printed second edition, and the CD itself was not copy-protected. Version 2 (1999) included the Oxford English Dictionary Additions of 1993 and 1997.
Version 3.0 was released in 2002 with additional words from the OED3 and software improvements. Version 3.1.1 (2007) added support for hard disk installation, so that the user does not have to insert the CD to use the dictionary. It has been reported that this version will work on operating systems other than Microsoft Windows, using emulation programs. Version 4.0 of the CD has been available since June 2009 and works with Windows 7 and Mac OS X (10.4 or later). This version uses the CD drive for installation, running only from the hard drive.
On 14 March 2000, the Oxford English Dictionary Online (OED Online) became available to subscribers. The online database contains the entire OED2 and is updated quarterly with revisions that will be included in the OED3 (see above). The online edition is the most up-to-date version of the dictionary available. The OED web site is not optimized for mobile devices, but the developers have stated that there are plans to provide an API that would enable developers to develop different interfaces for querying the OED.
The price for an individual to use this edition is £195 or US$295 every year, even after a reduction in 2004; consequently, most subscribers are large organizations such as universities. Some public libraries and companies have subscribed, as well, including public libraries in the United Kingdom, where access is funded by the Arts Council, and public libraries in New Zealand. Individuals who belong to a library which subscribes to the service are able to use the service from their own home without charge.
The OED's utility and renown as a historical dictionary have led to numerous offspring projects and other dictionaries bearing the Oxford name, though not all are directly related to the OED itself.
The Shorter Oxford English Dictionary, originally started in 1902 and completed in 1933, is an abridgement of the full work that retains the historical focus, but does not include any words which were obsolete before 1700 except those used by Shakespeare, Milton, Spenser, and the King James Bible. A completely new edition was produced from the OED2 and published in 1993, with revisions in 2002 and 2007.
The Concise Oxford Dictionary is a different work, which aims to cover current English only, without the historical focus. The original edition, mostly based on the OED1, was edited by Francis George Fowler and Henry Watson Fowler and published in 1911, before the main work was completed. Revised editions appeared throughout the twentieth century to keep it up to date with changes in English usage.
The Pocket Oxford Dictionary of Current English was originally conceived by F. G. Fowler and H. W. Fowler to be compressed, compact, and concise. Its primary source is the Oxford English Dictionary, and it is nominally an abridgment of the Concise Oxford Dictionary. It was first published in 1924.
In 1998 the New Oxford Dictionary of English (NODE) was published. While also aiming to cover current English, NODE was not based on the OED. Instead, it was an entirely new dictionary produced with the aid of corpus linguistics. Once NODE was published, a similarly brand-new edition of the Concise Oxford Dictionary followed, this time based on an abridgement of NODE rather than the OED; NODE (under the new title of the Oxford Dictionary of English, or ODE) continues to be principal source for Oxford's product line of current-English dictionaries, including the New Oxford American Dictionary, with the OED now only serving as the basis for scholarly historical dictionaries.
The OED lists British headword spellings (e.g., labour, centre) with variants following (labor, center, etc.). For the suffix more commonly spelt -ise in British English, OUP policy dictates a preference for the spelling -ize, e.g., realize vs. realise and globalization vs. globalisation. The rationale is etymological, in that the English suffix is mainly derived from the Greek suffix -ιζειν, (-izein), or the Latin -izāre. However, -ze is also sometimes treated as an Americanism insofar as the -ze suffix has crept into words where it did not originally belong, as with analyse (British English), which is spelt analyze in American English.
British prime minister Stanley Baldwin described the OED as a "national treasure". Author Anu Garg, founder of Wordsmith.org, has called it a "lex icon". Tim Bray, co-creator of Extensible Markup Language (XML), credits the OED as the developing inspiration of that markup language.
However, despite, and at the same time precisely because of, its claims of authority, the dictionary has been criticised since at least the 1960s from various angles. It has become a target precisely because of its scope, its claims to authority, its British-centredness and relative neglect of World Englishes, its implied but not acknowledged focus on literary language and, above all, its influence. The OED, as a commercial product, has always had to manoeuvre a thin line between PR, marketing and scholarship and one can argue that its biggest problem is the critical uptake of the work by the interested public. In his review of the 1982 supplement, University of Oxford linguist Roy Harris writes that criticizing the OED is extremely difficult because "one is dealing not just with a dictionary but with a national institution", one that "has become, like the English monarchy, virtually immune from criticism in principle". He further notes that neologisms from respected "literary" authors such as Samuel Beckett and Virginia Woolf are included, whereas usage of words in newspapers or other less "respectable" sources hold less sway, even though they may be commonly used. He writes that the OED's "[b]lack-and-white lexicography is also black-and-white in that it takes upon itself to pronounce authoritatively on the rights and wrongs of usage", faulting the dictionary's prescriptive rather than descriptive usage. To Harris, this prescriptive classification of certain usages as "erroneous" and the complete omission of various forms and usages cumulatively represent the "social bias[es]" of the (presumably well-educated and wealthy) compilers. However, the identification of "erroneous and catachrestic" usages is being removed from third edition entries, sometimes in favour of usage notes describing the attitudes to language which have previously led to these classifications.
Harris also faults the editors' "donnish conservatism" and their adherence to prudish Victorian morals, citing as an example the non-inclusion of "various centuries-old 'four-letter words'" until 1972. However, no English dictionary included such words, for fear of possible prosecution under British obscenity laws, until after the conclusion of the Lady Chatterley's Lover obscenity trial in 1960. The first dictionary to include the word fuck was the Penguin English Dictionary of 1965. Joseph Wright's English Dialect Dictionary had included shit in 1905.
The OED's claims of authority have also been questioned by linguists such as Pius ten Hacken, who notes that the dictionary actively strives towards definitiveness and authority but can only achieve those goals in a limited sense, given the difficulties of defining the scope of what it includes.
Founding editor James Murray was also reluctant to include scientific terms, despite their documentation, unless he felt that they were widely enough used. In 1902, he declined to add the word "radium" to the dictionary.
Here's novelist Anthony Burgess calling it 'the greatest publishing event of the century'. It is to be marked by a half-day seminar and lunch at that bluest of blue-blood London hostelries, Claridge's. The guest list of 250 dignitaries is a literary 'Who's Who'.
The Encyclopaedia Britannica and the Dictionary of National Biography are indeed yet mighty, but not quite what they used to be, whereas the OED has gone from strength to strength and is one of the wonders of the world.
|3||1897||D, E|| |
|4||1901||F, G||  |
|5p2||1901||I, J, K|||
|7||1909||O, P|| |
|8p1||1914||Q, R|| |
Many of the differences between American and British English date back to a time when spelling standards had not yet developed. For instance, some spellings seen as "American" today were once commonly used in Britain and some spellings seen as "British" were once commonly used in the United States. A "British standard" began to emerge following the 1755 publication of Samuel Johnson's A Dictionary of the English Language, and an "American standard" started following the work of Noah Webster and in particular his An American Dictionary of the English Language, first published in 1828.Webster's efforts at spelling reform were somewhat effective in his native country, resulting in certain well-known patterns of spelling differences between the American and British varieties of English. However, English-language spelling reform has rarely been adopted otherwise, and so modern English orthography varies somewhat between countries and is far from phonemic in any country.Compact Oxford English Dictionary of Current English
The Compact Oxford English Dictionary of Current English is a one-volume dictionary published by Oxford University Press. It is intended for a family or upper secondary school readerships. The third edition (revised), published in 2008, has 1,264 pages, somewhat smaller than the Concise Oxford English Dictionary, and is distinct from the "Compact" (single- and two-volume photo-reduced) editions of the multi-volume Oxford English Dictionary.Concise Oxford English Dictionary
The Concise Oxford English Dictionary (officially titled The Concise Oxford Dictionary until 2002, and widely abbreviated COD or COED) is probably the best-known of the 'smaller' Oxford dictionaries. The latest edition of the Concise Oxford English Dictionary contains over 240,000 entries and 1,728 pages (concise only compared to the OED at over 21,000 pages). Its 12th edition, published in 2011, is used by both the United Nations and NATO as the current authority for spellings in documents written in English for international use. It is available as an e-book for a variety of handheld device platforms. In addition to providing information for general use, it documents local variations such as United States and United Kingdom usage.
It was started as a derivative of the Oxford English Dictionary (OED), although section S–Z had to be written before the Oxford English Dictionary reached that stage. However, starting from the 10th edition, it is based on the Oxford Dictionary of English (also known as the NODE) rather than the OED. The most recent edition is the 12th edition, published in 2011.
Until 2000, it was the dictionary used on the UK game show Countdown.D'oh!
"D'oh!" () is a catchphrase used by the fictional character Homer Simpson, from the longest running American scripted primetime television series, The Simpsons, an animated sitcom (1989–present). It is typically used when Homer injures himself, realizes that he has done something stupid, or when something bad has happened or is about to happen to him. All his prominent blood relations—son Bart, daughters Lisa and Maggie, his father, his mother and half-brother—have also been heard to use it themselves in similar circumstances. On a few occasions Homer's wife Marge and even non-related characters such as Mr. Burns and Sideshow Bob have also used this phrase.
In 2006, "d'oh!" was listed as number six on TV Land's list of the 100 greatest television catchphrases. The spoken word "d'oh" is a sound trademark of 20th Century Fox. Since 2001, the word "doh" has appeared in the Oxford English Dictionary, without the apostrophe. Early recorded usages of the sound "d'oh" are in numerous episodes of the BBC Radio series It's That Man Again between 1945 and 1949, but the OxfordWords blog notes "Homer was responsible for popularizing it as an exclamation of frustration." The term also appeared in an early issue of Mad comics, with a different spelling but the same meaning, in issue 8 (December 1953 – January 1954); in a one-page story by Harvey Kurtzman entitled "Hey Look!", a man seeking peace and quiet suddenly hears a loud radio and, grimacing, says, "D-oooh – the neighbors [sic] radio!!"Flogging a dead horse
Flogging a dead horse (alternatively beating a dead horse; or beating a dead dog in some parts of the Anglophone world) is an idiom that means a particular effort is a waste of time as there will be no outcome, such as in the example of flogging a dead horse, which will not cause it to feel pain or anything else.
According to the Oxford English Dictionary, the first recorded use of the expression in its modern sense was by the English politician and orator John Bright in reference to the Reform Act of 1867, which called for more democratic representation in Parliament. Trying to rouse Parliament from its apathy on the issue, he said in a speech, would be like trying to "flog a dead horse" to make it pull a load. The Oxford English Dictionary cites usage in The Globe in 1872 as the earliest verifiable use of "flogging a dead horse", where someone is said to have "rehearsed that [...] lively operation known as flogging a dead horse".However Jay Dillon has discovered an earlier instance attributed to that same John Bright thirteen years prior: speaking in Commons on suffragette protests, March 28, 1859, Lord Elcho remarked that Bright had not been "satisfied with the results of his winter campaign" and that "a saying was attributed to him [Bright] that he [had] found he was 'flogging a dead horse.'"Hello
Hello is a salutation or greeting in the English language. It is first attested in writing from 1826.Historical Thesaurus of the Oxford English Dictionary
The Historical Thesaurus of the Oxford English Dictionary (HTOED) is the print edition of the largest thesaurus in the world, the Historical Thesaurus of English (HTE), conceived and compiled by the English Language Department of the University of Glasgow. The HTE is a complete database of all the words in the second edition of The Oxford English Dictionary, arranged by semantic field and date. In this way, the HTE arranges the whole vocabulary of English, from the earliest written records in Old English to the present, alongside types and dates of use. It is the first historical thesaurus to be compiled for any of the world's languages and contains 800,000 meanings for 600,000 words, within 230,000 categories, covering more than 920,000 words and meanings. As the HTE website states, "in addition to providing hitherto unavailable information for linguistic and textual scholars, the Historical Thesaurus online is a rich resource for students of social and cultural history, showing how concepts developed through the words that refer to them."The ambitious project was announced at a 1965 meeting of the Philological Society by its originator, Michael Samuels. Work on the HTE started in 1965.
On 22 October 2009, after 44 years of work, version 1.0 was published as a two-volume set as HTOED. It consists of two slipcased hardcover volumes, totaling nearly 4,000 pages. The HTE, released as version 4.2 in September 2014, is freely available online from the University of Glasgow.John Simpson (lexicographer)
John Simpson OBE (born 13 October 1953) is an English lexicographer and was Chief Editor of the Oxford English Dictionary (OED) from 1993 to 2013.List of English words of Dravidian origin
This is a list of English words that are borrowed directly or ultimately from Dravidian languages. Dravidian languages include Tamil, Malayalam, Kannada, Telugu, and a number of other languages spoken mainly in South Asia. The list is by no means exhaustive.
Some of the words can be traced to specific languages, but others have disputed or uncertain origins. Words of disputed or less certain origin are in the "Dravidian languages" list. Where lexicographers generally agree on a source language, the words are listed by language.Literal and figurative language
Literal and figurative language is a distinction within some fields of language analysis, in particular stylistics, rhetoric, and semantics.
Literal language uses words exactly according to their conventionally accepted meanings or denotation.
Figurative (or non-literal) language uses words in a way that deviates from their conventionally accepted definitions in order to convey a more complicated meaning or heightened effect. Figurative language is often created by presenting words in such a way that they are equated, compared, or associated with normally unrelated meanings.Literal usage confers meaning to words, in the sense of the meaning they have by themselves, outside any figure of speech. It maintains a consistent meaning regardless of the context, with the intended meaning corresponding exactly to the meaning of the individual words. Figurative use of language is the use of words or phrases that implies a non-literal meaning which does make sense or that could [also] be true.Aristotle and later the Roman Quintilian were among the early analysts of rhetoric who expounded on the differences between literal and figurative language.In 1769, Frances Brooke's novel The History of Emily Montague was used in the earliest Oxford English Dictionary citation for the figurative sense of literally; the sentence from the novel used was, "He is a fortunate man to be introduced to such a party of fine women at his arrival; it is literally to feed among the lilies." This citation was also used in the OED's 2011 revision.Within literary analysis, such terms are still used; but within the fields of cognition and linguistics, the basis for identifying such a distinction is no longer used.Maroon
Maroon ( mə-ROON,) is a dark reddish purple or dark brownish red color that takes its name from the French word marron, or chestnut.The Oxford English Dictionary describes it as "a brownish crimson or claret color."
In the RGB model used to create colors on computer screens and televisions, maroon is created by turning down the brightness of pure red to about one half. Maroon is the complement of teal.Megachurch
A megachurch is defined by the Hartford Institute as any Protestant Christian church having 2,000 or more people in average weekend attendance. The Oxford English Dictionary defines the term, first documented in 1984, as a church with an unusually large membership, especially one preaching a conservative or evangelical form of Christianity and also offering a variety of educational and social activities.The concept originated in the mid 19th century, continued into the mid 20th century as a phenomenon, and expanded rapidly through the 1980s and 1990s; it is widely seen across the US in the early 21st century.Namesake
A namesake is a person named after another, or more broadly, a thing (such as a company, place, ship, building, or concept) named after a person or thing that first had the name. According to the Oxford English Dictionary, a namesake is also defined as "a person or thing having the same name as another".OxfordDictionaries.com
OxfordDictionaries.com, originally titled Oxford Dictionaries Online (ODO) and rebranded Oxford Living Dictionaries in 2017, is an online dictionary produced by the Oxford University Press (OUP) publishing house, a department of the University of Oxford, which also publishes a number of print dictionaries, among other works. The database includes the contents of Oxford Dictionary of English, New Oxford American Dictionary, Oxford Thesaurus of English, and Oxford American Writer's Thesaurus, and the website also provides English grammar and usage resources. The database provides both "world" and American English as separate lexicons; while most entries are the same, some significantly differ to reflect distinctions in usage. This online edition of Oxford's dictionary resources includes exclusive updates (mostly neologisms); it is updated every three months. The site also includes several dictionaries of foreign language terms to and from English. It does not include the full text of the Oxford English Dictionary.Oxford spelling
Oxford spelling (also Oxford English Dictionary spelling, Oxford style, or Oxford English spelling) is the spelling standard used by the Oxford University Press (OUP) for British publications, including its Oxford English Dictionary (OED) and its influential British style guide Hart's Rules, and by other publishers who are "etymology conscious", according to Merriam-Webster.Oxford spelling is best known for its preference for the suffix -ize in words like organize and recognize, versus the -ise endings that are also commonly used in current British English usage. The spelling affects about 200 verbs and is favoured because -ize corresponds more closely to the Greek root, -izo (-ιζω), of most -ize verbs. In addition to the OUP's "Oxford"-branded dictionaries, other British dictionary publishers that list -ize suffixes first include Cassell, Collins and Longman. Oxford spelling is used by many British academic/science journals (for example, Nature) and many international organizations (for example, the United Nations and its agencies). It is common for academic, formal, and technical writing for an international readership (see Usage). In digital documents, Oxford spelling may be indicated by the IETF language tag en-GB-oxendict (or historically by en-GB-oed).Pussy
Pussy is a noun, an adjective, and in rare uses a verb in the English language. It has several meanings, including use as slang, as euphemism, and as vulgarity. Common meanings of the noun include "cat", as well as "coward or weakling", and "the human vulva or vagina", or as a synecdoche, "sexual intercourse with a woman". Because of its multiple senses including both innocent and vulgar connotations, "pussy" is often the subject of double entendre.
The etymology of the word is not entirely clear. Several different senses of the word have different histories or origins.Shorter Oxford English Dictionary
The Shorter Oxford English Dictionary (SOED) is an English language dictionary published by the Oxford University Press. The SOED is a two-volume abridgement of the twenty-volume Oxford English Dictionary (OED).Veranda
A veranda or verandah is a roofed, open-air gallery or porch, attached to the outside of a building. A veranda is often partly enclosed by a railing and frequently extends across the front and sides of the structure.Although the form verandah is correct and very common, some authorities prefer the version without an "h" (the Concise Oxford English Dictionary gives the "h" version as a variant and The Guardian Style Guide says
"veranda not verandah").William Chester Minor
William Chester Minor, also known as W. C. Minor (June 22, 1834 – March 26, 1920) was an American army surgeon and one of the largest contributors of quotations to the Oxford English Dictionary. He was also held in a lunatic asylum from 1872 to 1910 after he murdered George Merrett.
|Oxford English Dictionary Publications|
|Publication date||Volume range||Title||Volume|
|1888||A and B||A New ED||Vol. 1|
|1897||D and E||NED||Vol. 3|
|1900||F and G||NED||Vol. 4|
|1901||H to K||NED||Vol. 5|
|1908||L to N||NED||Vol. 6|
|1909||O and P||NED||Vol. 7|
|1914||Q to Sh||NED||Vol. 8|
|1919||Si to St||NED||Vol. 9/1|
|1919||Su to Th||NED||Vol. 9/2|
|1926||Ti to U||NED||Vol. 10/1|
|1928||V to Z||NED||Vol. 10/2|
|1933||All & sup.||Oxford ED||13 vols.|
|1972||A||OED Sup.||Vol. 1|
|1976||H||OED Sup.||Vol. 2|
|1982||O||OED Sup.||Vol. 3|
|1986||Sea||OED Sup.||Vol. 4|
|1989||All||OED 2nd Ed.||20 vols.|
|1993||All||OED Add. Ser.||Vols. 1–2|
|1997||All||OED Add. Ser.||Vol. 3|
Dictionaries of English
|Old and Middle English|
|Learners / ESL|