SOD

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


The Shorter Oxford English Dictionary is recognised throughout the academic world, at least in the UK, as SOD. It is, despite its name, the second longest in the Oxford family of dictionaries. It is a two volume abridgement of the main 20 volume OED. The publishers say that it "includes all words in current English from 1700 to the present day, plus the vocabulary of Shakespeare, the Bible and other major works in English from before 1700" - a third of the coverage of the OED, at a tenth of the length.

  • The first edition (by William Little, H. W. Fowler, Jessie Coulson, and C. T. Onions) was published in 1933, in two volumes.
  • The Second Edition was published in 1936, with about 3,000 revisions and additions.
  • The Third Edition (1944) contained an appendix of addenda and corrigenda.
  • The New Shorter, edited by Lesley Brown, appeared in 1993, described as "the first complete revision of the dictionary, being in fact not so much an overhaul of the existing text as a reabridgement of the OED and its Supplements."
  • The Fifth Edition (2002) reverted to the name Shorter Oxford English Dictionary to emphasize the link between this 2-volume dictionary and the original 20-volume OED.
  • The Sixth Edition (2007) was edited by Angus Stevenson.
Precision of language is important for all students. For most everyday uses, many dictionaries will serve; but those who want to examine the precise use of words - their meanings or history - should consult OED. For most purposes, SOD will answer such questions; but to make a good (convincing) reference in an academic paper in such fields as languages, literature, history and the law, you should check the full entry in OED. (Its on-line version is the most up-to-date.)