Oxford English Dictionary
Overview
 
The Oxford English Dictionary (OED), published by the Oxford University Press
Oxford University Press
Oxford University Press is the largest university press in the world. It is a department of the University of Oxford and is governed by a group of 15 academics appointed by the Vice-Chancellor known as the Delegates of the Press. They are headed by the Secretary to the Delegates, who serves as...

, is the self-styled premier dictionary
Dictionary
A dictionary is a collection of words in one or more specific languages, often listed alphabetically, with usage information, definitions, etymologies, phonetics, pronunciations, and other information; or a book of words in one language with their equivalents in another, also known as a lexicon...

 of the English language
English language
English is a West Germanic language that arose in the Anglo-Saxon kingdoms of England and spread into what was to become south-east Scotland under the influence of the Anglian medieval kingdom of Northumbria...

. Two fully bound print editions of the OED have been published under its current name, in 1928 and 1989. The first edition was published in twelve volumes (plus later supplements), and the second edition in twenty volumes. , the editors had completed the third edition from M to Ryvita
Ryvita
Ryvita is a rye-based crispbread which up until 2009 was manufactured by The Ryvita Company. The company was founded in Birmingham, England, in 1930 and is today a subsidiary of Associated British Foods. Ryvita crackers are popular with dieters...

.
Encyclopedia
The Oxford English Dictionary (OED), published by the Oxford University Press
Oxford University Press
Oxford University Press is the largest university press in the world. It is a department of the University of Oxford and is governed by a group of 15 academics appointed by the Vice-Chancellor known as the Delegates of the Press. They are headed by the Secretary to the Delegates, who serves as...

, is the self-styled premier dictionary
Dictionary
A dictionary is a collection of words in one or more specific languages, often listed alphabetically, with usage information, definitions, etymologies, phonetics, pronunciations, and other information; or a book of words in one language with their equivalents in another, also known as a lexicon...

 of the English language
English language
English is a West Germanic language that arose in the Anglo-Saxon kingdoms of England and spread into what was to become south-east Scotland under the influence of the Anglian medieval kingdom of Northumbria...

. Two fully bound print editions of the OED have been published under its current name, in 1928 and 1989. The first edition was published in twelve volumes (plus later supplements), and the second edition in twenty volumes. , the editors had completed the third edition from M to Ryvita
Ryvita
Ryvita is a rye-based crispbread which up until 2009 was manufactured by The Ryvita Company. The company was founded in Birmingham, England, in 1930 and is today a subsidiary of Associated British Foods. Ryvita crackers are popular with dieters...

. With descriptions for approximately 600,000 words, the Oxford English Dictionary is the world's most comprehensive single-language print dictionary according to the Guinness Book of World Records.

Entries and relative size

According to the publishers, it would take a single person 120 years to 'key in' text to convert it to machine readable form which consists a total of 59 million words of the OED second edition, 60 years to proofread it, and 540 megabyte
Megabyte
The megabyte is a multiple of the unit byte for digital information storage or transmission with two different values depending on context: bytes generally for computer memory; and one million bytes generally for computer storage. The IEEE Standards Board has decided that "Mega will mean 1 000...

s to store it electronically. As of 30 November 2005, the Oxford English Dictionary contained approximately 301,100 main entries. Supplementing the entry headword
Headword
A headword, head word, lemma, or sometimes catchword is the word under which a set of related dictionary or encyclopaedia entries appear. The headword is used to locate the entry, and dictates its alphabetical position...

s, 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 pronunciation
Pronunciation
Pronunciation refers to the way a word or a language is spoken, or the manner in which someone utters a word. If one is said to have "correct pronunciation", then it refers to both within a particular dialect....

s; 249,300 etymologies
Etymology
Etymology is the study of the history of words, their origins, and how their form and meaning have changed over time.For languages with a long written history, etymologists make use of texts in these languages and texts about the languages to gather knowledge about how words were used during...

; 577,000 cross-references; and 2,412,400 usage quotation
Quotation
A quotation or quote is the repetition of one expression as part of another one, particularly when the quoted expression is well-known or explicitly attributed by citation to its original source, and it is indicated by quotation marks.A quotation can also refer to the repeated use of units of any...

s. 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.

Despite its impressive size, the OED is neither the world's largest nor earliest dictionary. The Dutch dictionary Woordenboek der Nederlandsche Taal
Woordenboek der Nederlandsche Taal
Woordenboek der Nederlandsche Taal is a dictionary of the Dutch language. It has over 430,000 entries of Dutch words from 1500 to 1921 and the paper edition consists of 43 volumes and close to 50,000 pages. The dictionary was almost 150 years in the making: the first fascicle was published in...

, which has similar aims to the OED, is the largest and it took twice as long to complete. Another earlier large dictionary is the Grimm brothers' dictionary of the German language
Deutsches Wörterbuch
Das Deutsche Wörterbuch / Deutsches Wörterbuch is one of the most important dictionaries of the German language...

, begun in 1838 and completed in 1961. The first edition of the Vocabolario degli Accademici della Crusca
Accademia della Crusca
The Accademia della Crusca is an Italian society for scholars and Italian linguists and philologists established in Florence. After the Accademia Cosentina, it is the oldest Italian academy still in existence...

, which is the first great dictionary devoted to a modern European language (Italian), was published in 1612; the first edition of Dictionnaire de l'Académie française
Dictionnaire de l'Académie française
The Dictionnaire de l'Académie française is the official dictionary of the French language.The Académie française is France's official authority on the usages, vocabulary, and grammar of the French language, although its recommendations carry no legal power...

 dates from 1694. The first edition of the official dictionary of Spanish, the Diccionario de la lengua española (produced, edited, and published by the Real Academia Española
Real Academia Española
The Royal Spanish Academy is the official royal institution responsible for regulating the Spanish language. It is based in Madrid, Spain, but is affiliated with national language academies in twenty-one other hispanophone nations through the Association of Spanish Language Academies...

) was published in 1780. The Kangxi dictionary
Kangxi dictionary
The Kangxi Dictionary was the standard Chinese dictionary during the 18th and 19th centuries. The Kangxi Emperor of the Manchu Qing Dynasty ordered its compilation in 1710. The creator innovated greatly by reusing and confirming the new Zihui system of 596 radicals, since then known as 596 Kangxi...

 of Chinese was published even earlier, in 1716.

The OEDs official policy is to attempt to record a word's most-known usages and variants in all varieties of English past and present, worldwide. Per the 1933 "Preface":
It continues:
The OED is the focus of much scholarly work about English words. Its headword variant spellings order list influences written English in English-speaking countries.

Origins

At first, the dictionary was unconnected to Oxford University but was the idea of a small group of intellectuals in London; it originally was a Philological Society
Philological Society
The Philological Society, or London Philological Society, is the oldest learned society in Great Britain dedicated to the study of language. The society was established in 1842 to "investigate and promote the study and knowledge of the structure, the affinities, and the history of languages"...

 project conceived in London by Richard Chenevix Trench
Richard Chenevix Trench
Richard Chenevix Trench was an Anglican archbishop and poet.-Life:He was born at Dublin, in Ireland, son of the Dublin writer Melesina Trench, his elder brother was Francis Chenevix Trench. He went to school at Harrow, and graduated from Trinity College, Cambridge in 1829. In 1830 he visited Spain...

, Herbert Coleridge
Herbert Coleridge
Herbert "Herbie" Coleridge was a British philologist, technically the first editor of what ultimately became the Oxford English Dictionary.-Biography:...

, and Frederick Furnivall
Frederick James Furnivall
Frederick James Furnivall , one of the co-creators of the Oxford English Dictionary , was an English philologist...

, who were dissatisfied with the current English dictionaries. In June 1857, they formed an "Unregistered Words Committee" to search for unlisted and undefined words lacking 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:
  • Incomplete coverage of obsolete words
  • Inconsistent coverage of families of related words
  • Incorrect dates for earliest use of words
  • History of obsolete senses of words often omitted
  • Inadequate distinction among synonyms
  • Insufficient use of good illustrative quotations
  • Space wasted on inappropriate or redundant content.


The Philological Society, however, 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. The Society eventually shifted their idea from only words that were not already in English dictionaries to a more comprehensive 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. Volunteer readers would be assigned particular books, copying passages illustrating word usage onto quotation slips. In 1858, the Society agreed to the project in principle, with the title "A New English Dictionary on Historical Principles" (NED).

Early editors

Richard Chenevix Trench
Richard Chenevix Trench
Richard Chenevix Trench was an Anglican archbishop and poet.-Life:He was born at Dublin, in Ireland, son of the Dublin writer Melesina Trench, his elder brother was Francis Chenevix Trench. He went to school at Harrow, and graduated from Trinity College, Cambridge in 1829. In 1830 he visited Spain...

 played the key role in the project's first months, but his Church of England
Church of England
The Church of England is the officially established Christian church in England and the Mother Church of the worldwide Anglican Communion. The church considers itself within the tradition of Western Christianity and dates its formal establishment principally to the mission to England by St...

 appointment as Dean of Westminster meant that he could not give the dictionary project the time it required; he withdrew, and Herbert Coleridge became the first editor.
On 12 May 1860, Coleridge's dictionary plan was published, and research started. His house was the first editorial office. He arrayed 100,000 quotation slips in a 54-pigeon-hole grid. In April 1861, the group published the first sample pages; later that month, the thirty year old Coleridge died of tuberculosis
Tuberculosis
Tuberculosis, MTB, or TB is a common, and in many cases lethal, infectious disease caused by various strains of mycobacteria, usually Mycobacterium tuberculosis. Tuberculosis usually attacks the lungs but can also affect other parts of the body...

.

Furnivall then became editor; he was enthusiastic and knowledgeable, yet temperamentally ill-suited for the work. Many volunteer readers eventually lost interest in the project as Furnivall failed to keep them motivated. Furthermore, many of the slips had been 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, Furnival founded the Early English Text Society
Early English Text Society
The Early English Text Society is an organization to reprint early English texts, especially those only available in manuscript. Most of its volumes are in Middle English and Old English...

 in 1864 and the Chaucer Society in 1868 to publish old manuscripts. Furnivall's preparatory efforts, which lasted 21 years, provided numerous texts for the use and enjoyment of the general public as well as crucial sources for lexicographers, but did not actually involve compiling a dictionary. Furnivall recruited over 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 would hand 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
Henry Nicol
Henry Nicol was a philologist specialized in French phonology. Cousin of Henry Sweet, Nicol was persuaded in 1871 by Frederick James Furnivall to take over the editorship of OED but was prevented by ill health and other problems to do so....

 to succeed him. He then approached James Murray
James Murray (lexicographer)
Sir James Augustus Henry Murray was a Scottish lexicographer and philologist. He was the primary editor of the Oxford English Dictionary from 1879 until his death.-Life and learning:...

, 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. The dictionary project finally had a publisher 20 years after the idea was conceived. It would be another 50 years before the entire dictionary was complete.

Late in his editorship Murray learned that one prolific reader W. C. Minor
William Chester Minor
William Chester Minor, also known as W. C. Minor was an American army surgeon who, later, was one of the largest contributors of quotations to the Oxford English Dictionary...

 was a criminal lunatic. Minor, a Yale University trained surgeon and military officer in the U.S. Civil War, was confined to Broadmoor Asylum for the Criminally Insane
Broadmoor Hospital
Broadmoor Hospital is a high-security psychiatric hospital at Crowthorne in the Borough of Bracknell Forest in Berkshire, England. It is the best known of the three high-security psychiatric hospitals in England, the other two being Ashworth and Rampton...

 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 a popular 20th-century book about the creation of the OED
The Surgeon of Crowthorne
The Surgeon of Crowthorne: A Tale of Murder, Madness and the Love of Words is a book by Simon Winchester that was first published in England in 1998...

.

Oxford editors

During the 1870s, the Philological Society was concerned with the process of publishing a dictionary with such an immense scope. Although they had pages printed by publishers, no publication agreement was reached; both the Cambridge University Press
Cambridge University Press
Cambridge University Press is the publishing business of the University of Cambridge. Granted letters patent by Henry VIII in 1534, it is the world's oldest publishing house, and the second largest university press in the world...

 and the Oxford University Press
Oxford University Press
Oxford University Press is the largest university press in the world. It is a department of the University of Oxford and is governed by a group of 15 academics appointed by the Vice-Chancellor known as the Delegates of the Press. They are headed by the Secretary to the Delegates, who serves as...

 were approached. Finally, in 1879, after two years' negotiating by Sweet, Furnivall, and Murray, the OUP agreed to publish the dictionary and to pay the editor, Murray, who was also the Philological Society president. The dictionary was to be published as interval fascicles, with the final form in four 6,400-page volumes. They hoped to finish the project in ten years.

Murray started the project, working in a corrugated iron outbuilding, the "Scriptorium
Scriptorium
Scriptorium, literally "a place for writing", is commonly used to refer to a room in medieval European monasteries devoted to the copying of manuscripts by monastic scribes...

", which was lined with wooden planks, book shelves, and 1,029 pigeon-holes for the quotation slips. 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 than for abuse. Through newspapers distributed to bookshops and libraries, he appealed 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
Liberal arts college
A liberal arts college is one with a primary emphasis on undergraduate study in the liberal arts and sciences.Students in the liberal arts generally major in a particular discipline while receiving exposure to a wide range of academic subjects, including sciences as well as the traditional...

 professor Francis March
Francis March
Francis Andrew March was an American polymath, academic, philologist, and lexicographer...

 manage the collection in North America; 1,000 quotation slips arrived daily to the Scriptorium, and by 1882, there were 3,500,000.

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
Shilling
The shilling is a unit of currency used in some current and former British Commonwealth countries. The word shilling comes from scilling, an accounting term that dates back to Anglo-Saxon times where it was deemed to be the value of a cow in Kent or a sheep elsewhere. The word is thought to derive...

.6d
Penny
A penny is a coin or a type of currency used in several English-speaking countries. It is often the smallest denomination within a currency system.-Etymology:...

 or U.S.$3.25. The total sales were a disappointing 4,000 copies.

The OUP saw 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. The first was that he moved from Mill Hill
Mill Hill
Mill Hill is a place in the London Borough of Barnet. It is a suburb situated 9 miles north west of Charing Cross. Mill Hill was in the historic county of Middlesex until it was absorbed by London...

 to Oxford; he did, in 1885. Murray had his Scriptorium re-erected on his new property.

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 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
Henry Bradley
Henry Bradley was a British philologist and lexicographer who succeeded James Murray as senior editor of the Oxford English Dictionary .-Early life:...

 (hired by Murray in 1884), who worked independently in the British Museum
British Museum
The British Museum is a museum of human history and culture in London. Its collections, which number more than seven million objects, are amongst the largest and most comprehensive in the world and originate from all continents, illustrating and documenting the story of human culture from its...

 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, particularly the Saturday Review
Saturday Review (London)
The Saturday Review of politics, literature, science, and art was a London weekly newspaper established by A. J. B. Beresford Hope in 1855....

, reported the harassment, and public opinion backed the editors. 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
William Craigie
Sir William Alexander Craigie was a philologist and a lexicographer.A graduate of the University of St Andrews, he was the third editor of the Oxford English Dictionary and co-editor of the 1933 supplement. From 1916 to 1925 he was also Rawlinson and Bosworth Professor of Anglo-Saxon in the...

, starting in 1901, was responsible for N, Q-R, Si-Sq, U-V and Wo-Wy. Whereas previously the OUP had thought London too far from Oxford, after 1925 Craigie worked on the dictionary in Chicago, where he was a professor. The fourth editor was C. T. Onions
Charles Talbut Onions
Charles Talbut Onions was an English grammarian and lexicographer and the fourth editor of the Oxford English Dictionary....

, who, starting in 1914, compiled the remaining ranges, Su-Sz, Wh-Wo and X-Z. It was around this time that J. R. R. Tolkien
J. R. R. Tolkien
John Ronald Reuel Tolkien, CBE was an English writer, poet, philologist, and university professor, best known as the author of the classic high fantasy works The Hobbit, The Lord of the Rings, and The Silmarillion.Tolkien was Rawlinson and Bosworth Professor of Anglo-Saxon at Pembroke College,...

 was employed by the OED, researching etymologies of the Waggle to Warlock range; he parodied the principal editors as "The Four Wise Clerks of Oxenford" in the story Farmer Giles of Ham
Farmer Giles of Ham
"Farmer Giles of Ham" is a Medieval fable written by J. R. R. Tolkien in 1937 and published in 1949. The story describes the encounters between Farmer Giles and a wily dragon named Chrysophylax, and how Giles manages to use these to rise from humble beginnings to rival the king of the land...

. Julian Barnes
Julian Barnes
Julian Patrick Barnes is a contemporary English writer, and winner of the 2011 Man Booker Prize, for his book The Sense of an Ending...

 also was an employee; he was said to dislike the work.

Fascicles

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 would eventually become 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 now be a fascicle of 64 pages, priced at 2s.6d. or $1 U.S. 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. Each time enough consecutive pages were available, the same material was also published in the original larger fascicles.

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. The 125th and last fascicle, covering words from Wise to the end of W, was published on 19 April 1928, and the full Dictionary in bound volumes followed immediately.

The early modern English prose of Sir Thomas Browne
Thomas Browne
Sir Thomas Browne was an English author of varied works which reveal his wide learning in diverse fields including medicine, religion, science and the esoteric....

 is probably the most frequently quoted source of neologisms in the completed dictionary. William Shakespeare
William Shakespeare
William Shakespeare was an English poet and playwright, widely regarded as the greatest writer in the English language and the world's pre-eminent dramatist. He is often called England's national poet and the "Bard of Avon"...

 is the most-quoted writer, with Hamlet
Hamlet
The Tragical History of Hamlet, Prince of Denmark, or more simply Hamlet, is a tragedy by William Shakespeare, believed to have been written between 1599 and 1601...

 his most-quoted work. George Eliot
George Eliot
Mary Anne Evans , better known by her pen name George Eliot, was an English novelist, journalist and translator, and one of the leading writers of the Victorian era...

 (Mary Ann Evans) is the most-quoted woman writer. Collectively, the Bible
Bible
The Bible refers to any one of the collections of the primary religious texts of Judaism and Christianity. There is no common version of the Bible, as the individual books , their contents and their order vary among denominations...

 is the most-quoted work (but in many different translations); the most-quoted single work is Cursor Mundi
Cursor Mundi
Cursor Mundi is an anonymous Middle-English historical and religious poem of nearly 30,000 lines written around 1300 AD. The poem summarizes the history of the world as described in the Christian Bible and other sources, with additional legendary material drawn primarily from the Historia...

.

Oxford English Dictionary and First Supplement

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.

Second Supplement and Second Edition

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
Typesetting
Typesetting is the composition of text by means of types.Typesetting requires the prior process of designing a font and storing it in some manner...

, 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
Robert Burchfield
Robert William Burchfield CNZM CBE was a scholar, writer, and lexicographer.Born in Wanganui, New Zealand, he studied at Wanganui Technical College and Victoria University in Wellington...

 was hired in 1957 to edit the second supplement; Onions
Charles Talbut Onions
Charles Talbut Onions was an English grammarian and lexicographer and the fourth editor of the Oxford English Dictionary....

, who turned 84 that year, was still able to make some contributions as well. 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 also broadened the scope to include developments of the language in English-speaking regions beyond the United Kingdom
English-speaking world
The English-speaking world consists of those countries or regions that use the English language to one degree or another. For more information, please see:Lists:* List of countries by English-speaking population...

, including North America, Australia, New Zealand, South Africa, India, Pakistan, and the Caribbean. The work was expected to take seven to ten 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.

By this time it was clear that the full text of the Dictionary would now 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
John Simpson (lexicographer)
John Andrew Simpson is a British lexicographer and senior editor of the Oxford English Dictionary . Simpson was co-editor of the second edition, which ran to 20 volumes published in 1989, a combination of the original text with several supplemental volumes that had followed...

 and Edmund S. C. Weiner
Edmund Weiner
Edmund Weiner was co-editor of the Second Edition of the Oxford English Dictionary and Deputy Chief Editor of the Oxford English Dictionary...

 as co-editors.

]
And so the New Oxford English Dictionary (NOED) project began. More than 120 keyboarders of the International Computaprint Corporation in Tampa, Florida
Tampa, Florida
Tampa is a city in the U.S. state of Florida. It serves as the county seat for Hillsborough County. Tampa is located on the west coast of Florida. The population of Tampa in 2010 was 335,709....

, and Fort Washington, Pennsylvania
Fort Washington, Pennsylvania
Fort Washington is an unincorporated census-designated place and suburb of Philadelphia in Montgomery County, Pennsylvania, United States. The population was 5,446 at the 2010 census.-Prior to the Revolutionary War:...

, USA, 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
Typography
Typography is the art and technique of arranging type in order to make language visible. The arrangement of type involves the selection of typefaces, point size, line length, leading , adjusting the spaces between groups of letters and adjusting the space between pairs of letters...

 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
University of Waterloo
The University of Waterloo is a comprehensive public university in the city of Waterloo, Ontario, Canada. The school was founded in 1957 by Drs. Gerry Hagey and Ira G. Needles, and has since grown to an institution of more than 30,000 students, faculty, and staff...

, Canada, at the Centre for the New Oxford English Dictionary, led by Frank Tompa and Gaston Gonnet
Gaston Gonnet
Gaston H. Gonnet is a Uruguayan computer scientist and entrepreneur. He is best known for his contributions to the Maple computer algebra system and the creation of an electronic version of the Oxford English Dictionary.- Education and professional life :...

; this search technology went on to become the basis for the Open Text Corporation
Open Text Corporation
OpenText Corporation Waterloo, Ontario, Canada. As Canada's largest software company, it produces and distributes computer software applications designed to enable Enterprise content management solutions for large corporations across all industries....

. Computer hardware, database and other software, development managers, and programmers for the project were donated by the British subsidiary of IBM
IBM
International Business Machines Corporation or IBM is an American multinational technology and consulting corporation headquartered in Armonk, New York, United States. IBM manufactures and sells computer hardware and software, and it offers infrastructure, hosting and consulting services in areas...

; the colour syntax-directed editor for the project,
LEXX, was written by Mike Cowlishaw
Mike Cowlishaw
Mike Cowlishaw is a retired IBM Fellow, a Visiting Professor at the Department of Computer Science at the University of Warwick, and is a Fellow of the Royal Academy of Engineering , the Institute of Engineering and Technology , and the British Computer Society.- Career at IBM :Cowlishaw joined IBM...

 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
Time (magazine)
Time is an American news magazine. A European edition is published from London. Time Europe covers the Middle East, Africa and, since 2003, Latin America. An Asian edition is based in Hong Kong...

 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 retronym
Retronym
A retronym is a type of neologism that provides a new name for an object or concept to differentiate the original form or version of it from a more recent form or version. The original name is most often augmented with an adjective to account for later developments of the object or concept itself...

ically became the OED1.

The OED2 was printed in 20 volumes. For the first time, 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.

Although the content of the OED2 is mostly just a reorganization of the earlier corpus, 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. Also, whereas Murray had devised his own notation for pronunciation, there being no standard available at the time, the OED2 adopted the modern International Phonetic Alphabet
International Phonetic Alphabet
The International Phonetic Alphabet "The acronym 'IPA' strictly refers [...] to the 'International Phonetic Association'. But it is now such a common practice to use the acronym also to refer to the alphabet itself that resistance seems pedantic...

. Unlike the earlier edition, all foreign alphabets except Greek were transliterated.

The British quiz show Countdown
Countdown (game show)
Countdown is a British game show involving word and number puzzles. It is produced by ITV Studios and broadcast on Channel 4. It is presented by Jeff Stelling, assisted by Rachel Riley, with regular lexicographer Susie Dent. It was the first programme to be aired on Channel 4, and over sixty-five...

 has awarded the leather-bound complete version to the champions of each series since its inception in 1982.

When the print version of the second edition was published in 1989, the response was enthusiastic. The author Anthony Burgess
Anthony Burgess
John Burgess Wilson  – who published under the pen name Anthony Burgess – was an English author, poet, playwright, composer, linguist, translator and critic. The dystopian satire A Clockwork Orange is Burgess's most famous novel, though he dismissed it as one of his lesser works...

 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
Richard Boston
Richard Boston was an English journalist and author, he was a rigorous dissenter and a belligerent pacifist...

, writing for The Guardian
The Guardian
The Guardian, formerly known as The Manchester Guardian , is a British national daily newspaper in the Berliner format...

, called it "one of the wonders of the world."

New material was published in the Oxford English Dictionary Additions Series, which consisted of two small volumes in 1993, and a third in 1997, bringing the dictionary to a total of 23 volumes. Each of the supplements added about 3,000 new definitions. However, no more Additions volumes are planned, and it is not expected that any part of the Third Edition, or OED3, will be printed in fascicles.

Compact editions

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 Supplement was at the second volume's end.

The Compact Edition included, in a small slip-case drawer, a magnifying glass
Magnifying glass
A magnifying glass is a convex lens that is used to produce a magnified image of an object. The lens is usually mounted in a frame with a handle ....

 to help in reading reduced type. Many copies were inexpensively distributed through book clubs
Book sales club
A book sales club is a subscription-based method of selling and purchasing books. It is more often called simply a book club, a term that is also used to describe a book discussion club, which can cause confusion.-How book sales clubs work:...

. In 1987, the second Supplement was published as a third volume to the Compact Edition. In 1991, for the OED2, 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.

Electronic versions

Once the text of the dictionary was digitized and online, it was also available to be published on CD-ROM
CD-ROM
A CD-ROM is a pre-pressed compact disc that contains data accessible to, but not writable by, a computer for data storage and music playback. The 1985 “Yellow Book” standard developed by Sony and Philips adapted the format to hold any form of binary data....

. The text of the First Edition was made available in 1988. 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) had some additions to the corpus, and updated software with improved searching features, but it had clumsy copy-protection that made it difficult to use and would even cause the program to deny use to OUP staff in the midst of demonstrating the product.

Version 3.0 was released in 2002 with additional words and software improvements, though its copy-protection remained as unforgiving as that of the earlier version. Version 3.1.1 (2007) includes a return to the less restrictive nature of version 1, with 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
Microsoft Windows
Microsoft Windows is a series of operating systems produced by Microsoft.Microsoft introduced an operating environment named Windows on November 20, 1985 as an add-on to MS-DOS in response to the growing interest in graphical user interfaces . Microsoft Windows came to dominate the world's personal...

, using emulation programs
Emulator
In computing, an emulator is hardware or software or both that duplicates the functions of a first computer system in a different second computer system, so that the behavior of the second system closely resembles the behavior of the first system...

. Version 4.0 of the CD, available since June 2009, works with Windows 7 and, for the first time ever, with Mac OS X (10.4 or later). This version will use 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 below). The online edition is the most up-to-date version of the dictionary available. Whilst the OED web site is not optimised for mobile devices, they have stated that there are plans to provide an API which would enable developers to develop different interfaces for querying the OED.
As the price for an individual to use this edition, even after a reduction in 2004, is £195 or US$295 every year, most subscribers are large organizations such as universities. Some of them do not use the Oxford English Dictionary Online portal and have legally downloaded the entire database into their organization's computers. Some public libraries and companies have subscribed as well, including, in March and April 2006, most public libraries in England, Wales, and New Zealand; any person belonging to a library subscribing to the service is able to use the service from their own home.

Another method of payment was introduced in 2004, offering residents of North or South America the opportunity to pay US$29.95 a month to access the online site.

Third Edition

The Oxford English Dictionary Third Edition, or OED3, is intended as a nearly complete overhaul of the work. Each word is being examined and revised to improve the accuracy of the definitions, derivations, pronunciations, and historical quotations—a task requiring the efforts of a staff consisting of more than 300 scholars, researchers, readers, and consultants, and projected to cost about $55 million. The result is expected to double the overall length of the text. The style of the dictionary will also change slightly. The original text was more literary, in that most of the quotations were taken from novels, plays, and other literary sources. The new edition, however, will reference all manner of printed resources, such as cookbooks, wills, technical manuals, specialist journals, and rock lyrics. The pace of inclusion of new words has been increased to the rate of about 4,000 a year.
The estimated date of completion is 2037.

New content can be viewed through the OED Online or on the periodically updated CD-ROM edition.

, John Simpson is the Chief Editor. Since the early work by each editor tends to be less polished and require more revision than their later work, it was decided to begin work on the current revision at a letter other than A (where work on the first edition was begun) in order to balance out this effect. Accordingly, the main work of the OED3 has been proceeding in sequence from the letter M. When the OED Online was launched in March 2000, it included the first batch of revised entries (officially described as draft entries), stretching from M to mahurat, and successive sections of text have since been released on a quarterly basis; by 24 March 2011, the revised section had reached Ryvita.

As new work is done on words in other parts of the alphabet, this is also included in each quarterly release. 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."

The production of the new edition takes full advantage of computers, particularly since the June 2005 inauguration of the whimsically named "Perfect All-Singing All-Dancing
All singing, all dancing (idiom)
All singing, all dancing is an idiom meaning "full of vitality", or, more recently, "full-featured". It originated with advertisements for the 1929 musical film The Broadway Melody, which proclaimed the film to be "All talking all singing all dancing"....

 Editorial
Text editor
A text editor is a type of program used for editing plain text files.Text editors are often provided with operating systems or software development packages, and can be used to change configuration files and programming language source code....

 and Notation
Annotation
An annotation is a note that is made while reading any form of text. This may be as simple as underlining or highlighting passages.Annotated bibliographies give descriptions about how each source is useful to an author in constructing a paper or argument...

 Application
Application software
Application software, also known as an application or an "app", is computer software designed to help the user to perform specific tasks. Examples include enterprise software, accounting software, office suites, graphics software and media players. Many application programs deal principally with...

", or "Pasadena." With this XML
XML
Extensible Markup Language is a set of rules for encoding documents in machine-readable form. It is defined in the XML 1.0 Specification produced by the W3C, and several other related specifications, all gratis open standards....

-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 e-mail submissions of quotations by readers and the general public.

Wordhunt
Wordhunt
Wordhunt was a national appeal run by the Oxford English Dictionary, looking for earlier evidence of the use of 50 words and phrases in the English language. New evidence found by members of the public in response to the appeal appears in the Oxford English Dictionary...

 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
Balderdash and Piffle
Balderdash and Piffle was a British television programme made by Takeaway Media for the BBC. Presented by Victoria Coren, it was a companion to the Oxford English Dictionary's Wordhunt, in which the writers of the dictionary asked the public for help in finding the origins and first known citations...

. The OED’s small army of devoted readers continue to contribute quotations; the department currently receives about 200,000 a year.

Spelling

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 partly etymological, that the English suffix mainly derives from the Greek suffix -ιζειν, (-izo), or the Latin -izāre; however, -ze is also an Americanism insofar as the -ze suffix has crept into words where it did not originally belong, as with analyse (British English), which is spelled analyze in American English. See also -ise/-ize at American and British English spelling differences.

The sentence "The group analysed labour statistics published by the organization" is an example of OUP practice. This spelling (indicated with the registered IANA
Internet Assigned Numbers Authority
The Internet Assigned Numbers Authority is the entity that oversees global IP address allocation, autonomous system number allocation, root zone management in the Domain Name System , media types, and other Internet Protocol-related symbols and numbers...

 language tag en-GB-oed) is used by the United Nations, the World Trade Organization
World Trade Organization
The World Trade Organization is an organization that intends to supervise and liberalize international trade. The organization officially commenced on January 1, 1995 under the Marrakech Agreement, replacing the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade , which commenced in 1948...

, the International Organization for Standardization
International Organization for Standardization
The International Organization for Standardization , widely known as ISO, is an international standard-setting body composed of representatives from various national standards organizations. Founded on February 23, 1947, the organization promulgates worldwide proprietary, industrial and commercial...

, and many British academic publications, such as Nature
Nature (journal)
Nature, first published on 4 November 1869, is ranked the world's most cited interdisciplinary scientific journal by the Science Edition of the 2010 Journal Citation Reports...

, the Biochemical Journal
Biochemical Journal
The Biochemical Journal is a peer-reviewed scientific journal which covers all aspects of biochemistry, as well as cell and molecular biology...

, and The Times Literary Supplement
The Times Literary Supplement
The Times Literary Supplement is a weekly literary review published in London by News International, a subsidiary of News Corporation.-History:...

.

Criticisms

Despite its claim of authority on the English language, the Oxford English Dictionary has been criticised from various angles. Indeed it has become a target precisely because of its massiveness, its claims to authority, and above all its influence. In his review of the 1982 supplement, University of Oxford linguist Roy Harris
Roy Harris (linguist)
Roy Harris is Emeritus Professor of General Linguistics in the University of Oxford and Honorary Fellow of St Edmund Hall. He has also held university teaching posts in Hong Kong, Boston and Paris and visiting fellowships at universities in South Africa and Australia, and at the Indian Institute...

 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". Harris also criticises what he sees as the "black-and-white lexicography" of the Dictionary, by which he means its reliance upon printed language over spoken—and then only privileged forms of printing. He further notes that, while neologisms from respected "literary" authors such as Samuel Beckett
Samuel Beckett
Samuel Barclay Beckett was an Irish avant-garde novelist, playwright, theatre director, and poet. He wrote both in English and French. His work offers a bleak, tragicomic outlook on human nature, often coupled with black comedy and gallows humour.Beckett is widely regarded as among the most...

 and Virginia Woolf
Virginia Woolf
Adeline Virginia Woolf was an English author, essayist, publisher, and writer of short stories, regarded as one of the foremost modernist literary figures of the twentieth century....

 are included, usage of words in newspapers or other, less "respectable", sources hold less sway, although they may be commonly used.
In contrast, Tim Bray
Tim Bray
Timothy William Bray is a Canadian software developer and entrepreneur. He co-founded Open Text Corporation and Antarctica Systems. Bray was Director of Web Technologies at Sun Microsystems from early 2004 to early 2010. Since then he has served as a Developer Advocate at Google, focusing on...

, co-creator of Extensible Markup Language (XML
XML
Extensible Markup Language is a set of rules for encoding documents in machine-readable form. It is defined in the XML 1.0 Specification produced by the W3C, and several other related specifications, all gratis open standards....

), credits the OED as the developing inspiration of that markup language
Markup language
A markup language is a modern system for annotating a text in a way that is syntactically distinguishable from that text. The idea and terminology evolved from the "marking up" of manuscripts, i.e. the revision instructions by editors, traditionally written with a blue pencil on authors' manuscripts...

. Similarly, the author Anu Garg
Anu Garg
Anu Garg , an Indian-American author and speaker, is best known as the founder of Wordsmith.org, an online community comprising word lovers from an estimated 200 countries. His books explore the joy of words...

, founder of Wordsmith.org, has called the Oxford English Dictionary a "lex icon."

See also

  • Canadian Oxford Dictionary
    Canadian Oxford Dictionary
    The Canadian Oxford Dictionary is a dictionary of Canadian English. First published by Oxford University Press Canada in 1998, it quickly became the standard dictionary reference for Canadian English. Until September 2008, Oxford maintained a permanent staff of lexicographers in Canada, led by...

  • Compact Oxford English Dictionary of Current English
    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 readership...

  • Concise Oxford English Dictionary
    Concise Oxford English Dictionary
    The Concise Oxford English Dictionary 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...

  • New Oxford American Dictionary
    New Oxford American Dictionary
    The New Oxford American Dictionary is a single-volume dictionary of American English compiled by American editors at the Oxford University Press....

  • Oxford Advanced Learner's Dictionary
    Oxford Advanced Learner's Dictionary
    The first Advanced learner's dictionary was the Oxford Advanced Learner's Dictionary, first published 60 years ago. It is the largest English language dictionary from Oxford University Press aimed at a non-native audience...

  • Shorter Oxford English Dictionary
    Shorter Oxford English Dictionary
    The Shorter Oxford English Dictionary, often abbreviated to SOED, is a scaled-down version of the Oxford English Dictionary . It comprises two volumes rather than the twenty needed for the full second edition of the OED...


Further reading

  • Caught in the Web of Words: J. A. H. Murray and the Oxford English Dictionary, by K. M. Elisabeth Murray, Oxford University Press and Yale University Press, 1977; new edition 2001, Yale University Press
    Yale University Press
    Yale University Press is a book publisher founded in 1908 by George Parmly Day. It became an official department of Yale University in 1961, but remains financially and operationally autonomous....

    , trade paperback, ISBN 0-300-08919-8.
  • Empire of Words: The Reign of the Oxford English Dictionary, by John Willinsky, Princeton University Press
    Princeton University Press
    -Further reading:* "". Artforum International, 2005.-External links:* * * * *...

    , 1995, hardcover, ISBN 0-691-03719-1.
  • The Meaning of Everything: The Story of the Oxford English Dictionary, Simon Winchester
    Simon Winchester
    Simon Winchester, OBE , is a British-American author and journalist who resides mostly in the United States. Through his career at The Guardian, Winchester covered numerous significant events including Bloody Sunday and the Watergate Scandal...

    , Oxford University Press, 2003, hardcover, ISBN 0-19-860702-4.
  • The Surgeon of Crowthorne
    The Surgeon of Crowthorne
    The Surgeon of Crowthorne: A Tale of Murder, Madness and the Love of Words is a book by Simon Winchester that was first published in England in 1998...

    : A Tale of Murder, Madness, and the Love of Words
    , Simon Winchester, Viking, 1998. Published in the US as The Professor and the Madman: A Tale of Murder, Insanity, and the Making of The Oxford English Dictionary, Harper Collins, 1998.
  • Lost for Words: The Hidden History of the Oxford English Dictionary, by Lynda Mugglestone, Yale University Press, 2005, hardcover, ISBN 0-300-10699-8.
  • The Ring of Words: Tolkien and the Oxford English Dictionary, by Peter Gilliver, Jeremy Marshall, and Edmund Weiner, Oxford University Press, 2006, hardcover, ISBN 0-19-861069-6.
  • Treasure-House of the Language: the Living OED, Charlotte Brewer, Yale University Press, 2007, hardcover, ISBN 978-0-300-12429-3.
  • Chasing the Sun: Dictionary Makers and the Dictionaries They Made, by Jonathon Green, Jonathan Cape, 1996, hardcover, ISBN 0-224-04010-3.

External links

  • The Oxford English Dictionary's official website
    • Archive of documents (as page images), including
      • Trench
        Richard Chenevix Trench
        Richard Chenevix Trench was an Anglican archbishop and poet.-Life:He was born at Dublin, in Ireland, son of the Dublin writer Melesina Trench, his elder brother was Francis Chenevix Trench. He went to school at Harrow, and graduated from Trinity College, Cambridge in 1829. In 1830 he visited Spain...

        's original "Deficiencies in our English Dictionaries" paper
      • Murray
        James Murray (lexicographer)
        Sir James Augustus Henry Murray was a Scottish lexicographer and philologist. He was the primary editor of the Oxford English Dictionary from 1879 until his death.-Life and learning:...

        's original appeal for readers
    • Their page of OED statistics, and another such page.
    • Two from the OED.
  • Examining the OED: Charlotte Brewer's analysis of the principles and practices used by OED editors
    • Bibliography of "[critical assessments of OED or accounts of its history"], from Examining the OED
  • The OED Meets Cyberspace: James Gleick
    James Gleick
    James Gleick is an American author, journalist, and biographer, whose books explore the cultural ramifications of science and technology...

    's 2006 article.
  • The New English Dictionary on Historical Principles (OED-1). Volume Index or all volumes at Internet Archive
    Internet Archive
    The Internet Archive is a non-profit digital library with the stated mission of "universal access to all knowledge". It offers permanent storage and access to collections of digitized materials, including websites, music, moving images, and nearly 3 million public domain books. The Internet Archive...

The source of this article is wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.  The text of this article is licensed under the GFDL.
 
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