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The Oxford English Dictionary

The Oxford English Dictionary
The 20-volume O.E.D. © Reproduced with the permission of the Secretary to the Delegates of Oxford University Press

The Oxford English Dictionary is one of the great epic works in the English language. In fact, it is the English language – available as a 20-volume print edition and now updated quarterly online. The latest version includes more than 500,000 words from across the English-speaking world.

The history of the Dictionary goes back to a meeting of a linguistic society in London in the mid-19th century, when the project for the compilation of an exhaustive reference guide to the language was first suggested.  Twenty years later the project was commissioned out to the Oxford University Press. That first edition was only published gradually in instalments between 1884 and 1928, during which time several of the lexicographers working on it had departed for the great reference library in the sky.