Friday, February 1, 2013

The Oxford English Dictionary

James Murray (principle editor of the OED) in the Scriptorium at Banbury Road

The Oxford English Dictionary (OED), published by the Oxford University Press, is the self-styled premier dictionary of the English language. Work began on the dictionary in 1857, but it was not until 1884 that it started to be published in unbound fascicles as work continued on the project under the name 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, it fully replaced the name in all occurrences to The Oxford English Dictionary (OED) in its reprinting as twelve volumes with a one volume supplement and more supplements came over the years until in 1989 when the second edition was published in twenty volumes. As of 24 March 2011 (2011 -03-24)[update], the editors had completed the third edition from M to Ryvita. 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.
The first electronic version of the dictionary was made available in 1988. The online version has been available since 2000, and as of August 2010 was receiving two million hits per month from paying subscribers. The chief executive of Oxford University Press, Nigel Portwood, feels it unlikely that the third edition will ever be printed. 

“I went to the woods and got a load of wood and drew it to Arch Stuart this forenoon.  Dwight Pierson and  came this afternoon and went home about half past three and Dave and his wife came just before they went away and went home about 5 o’clock.  Very pleasant day.”

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