OED

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This is a bibliography page, concerning a work to which reference is made elsewhere in this guide.

The Oxford English Dictionary (abbreviated as OED throughout the UK academic world; or, in a rather older style, O.E.D. (see Punctuation of abbreviations). The OED is currently available in print as the 2nd ed. (1989), edited by John Simpson and Edmund Weiner. The third edition (in progress) is available on-line, and may never be printed.

This dictionary was first known as the New English Dictionary', abbreviated as N.E.D., or NED. (Students of subjects like English literature and history may still occasionally find references to NED in books published in the first quarter of the twentieth century.) Its full title was A New English Dictionary on Historical Principles; Founded Mainly on the Materials Collected by The Philological Society. It was published and supported by OUP. It was first issued in parts, known as 'fascicles': from 1895, the paper covers of these bore the name Oxford English Dictionary

  • The first edition of the New English Dictionary, edited by Sir James Murray (1837-1915), and Henry Bradley (from 1889), William Craigie (from 1901) and C.T. Onions (from 1914). The final volume was published in 1928.
  • A revised reprint was published in 1933. This was the first appearance of the Oxford English Dictionary in book form. It had the following derivatives:
    • A four-volume Supplement to the OED, edited by R.W Burchfield, was published between 1972 and 1986.
    • Oxford English Dictionary: additions series: an A-Z presentation of new work-in-progress supplementing the Oxford English Dictionary, edited by John Simpson and Edmund Weiner (1993-7), (3 vols), Oxford, O.U.P.
    • OED has also been published in a photographically reduced version (sold with magnifying glass), in which 9 pages of the original are shown on one page: The Compact Oxford English Dictionary (1991, Second Edition), ed. J. A. Simpson and E. S. C. Weiner (1 vol., 2,402 pp).
  • 3rd ed. (in progress) Mar. 2000- (ed. John Simpson), on-line from <http://dictionary.oed.com>, a subscription site available to most HE students in the UK through their Athens passwords, and also on-line at many public libraries in the UK.
The OED is one of the enduring monuments to scholarship in Britain. It began when, in 1858, the Philological Society of London agreed to work towards A New English Dictionary on Historical Principles, or NED. The first instalment, or fascicle, 352 pages covering words beginning A to Ant, was published in 1884; the first full volume (1,240 pp), covering the letters A and B (A - Byzen) appeared in 1888. That edition, the 1st, published as the New English Dictionary on Historical Principles: founded mainly on the materials collected by the Philological Society was completed in 1928. It was in 10 volumes, or 12 - two 'letters' were each issued as two half-volumes. A Supplement was written, to cover the changes in the 44 years since 1884: this was incorporated in a revised first edition of 13 volumes, as the Oxford English Dictionary of 1933. The 2nd and 3rd editions are listed above.
Do not confuse the Oxford Dictionary of English (ODE) with The Oxford English Dictionary (OED). ODE is a single volume dictionary "of current English". OED is a multi-volume dictionary "on historical principles". If you are studying such subjects as linguistics, English literature or history at university level, OED may be invaluable to you. If you are studying most other subjects, and only want quick but advanced help with words in everyday modern English, then ODE is likely to be much more useful.