in the UK
The 20-volume Oxford English Dictionary is the accepted authority on the evolution of the English language over the last millennium. It traces the usage of words through 2.4 million quotations from a wide range of international English language sources. The OED has a unique historical focus. Accompanying each definition is a chronologically arranged group of quotations that trace the usage of words, and show the contexts in which they can be used. The quotations are drawn from a huge variety of sources worldwide - literary, scholarly, technical, and popular - and represent authors as disparate as Geoffrey Chaucer and Erica Jong, William Shakespeare, Charles Darwin and Isabella Beeton. Other features distinguishing the entries in the Dictionary are authoritative definitions; detailed information on pronunciation using the International Phonetic Alphabet; listings of variant spellings used throughout each word's history; extensive treatment of etymology; and details of area of usage and of any regional characteristics. Alongside the print edition is the Oxford English Dictionary Online (www.oed.com). Updated quarterly, this award-winning online resource allows the Dictionary to evolve with the English language while the print edition remains as a historical record. Subscriptions are available to OED online on an individual or institutional basis. Visit www.oup.com/online/oed/ for details.
Publisher and industry reviews
The OED has been to me a teacher, a companion, a source of endless discovery. I could not have become a writer without it.-- Anthony Burgess The greatest treasure of wordsall the raw material a writer needs for a lifetime of work.-- Annie Proulx The Oxford English Dictionary is more than a national monument to lexicography. The vast storehouse of the words and phrases that constitute the vocabulary of the English-speaking people is the ultimate authority on the English language as well as a history of English speech and thought from its infancy to the present day.-- The Times The gigantic total picture of the English languagean epic achievement.-- The Observer The greatest dictionary ever compiled.-- Sunday Telegraph The greatest dictionary in any language.-- The Telegraph It is a remarkable work of scholarship, and must rank high among the wonders of the world of learning.-- The Times Educational Supplement The greatest work in dictionary making ever undertaken.-- The New York Times
UK Kirkus review
An obvious choice, maybe, but probably not for the most obvious reason. When I am writing my own books on the origins of well-known phrases and sayings, I always check to see what the OED has to say. Usually, I hunt about first in the cd-rom version because of the speed with which words and phrases can be located. Then I turn to the 20 hardback volumes for a more leisurely read. But my chief interest in the OED lies in its rich store of citations. These provide a fascinating indication of when and how a word or phrase has first been found in the language. It is certainly the finest dictionary in the world. (Kirkus UK)
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