Oxford English Dictionary

Oxford English Dictionary
OED2 volumes.jpg
Seven of the twenty volumes of printed second edition of the Oxford English Dictionary (1989).

CountryUnited Kingdom
LanguageEnglish
PublisherOxford University Press
Published1884–1928 (first edition)
1989 (second edition)
Third edition in preparation[1]

The Oxford 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.[2][3] 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.[1] Since 2000, compilation of a third edition of the dictionary has been underway, approximately half of which is complete.[1]

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.[1][4][5]

Historical nature

As a historical dictionary, the Oxford English Dictionary explains words by showing their development rather than merely their present-day usages.[6] 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.[7]

Other Languages
Ελληνικά: Oxford English Dictionary
Bahasa Indonesia: Oxford English Dictionary
Lëtzebuergesch: Oxford English Dictionary
Lingua Franca Nova: Oxford English Dictionary