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Oxford Dictionary of English Hardcover – 19 Aug 2010

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Product details

  • Hardcover: 2112 pages
  • Publisher: OUP Oxford; 3rd edition (19 Aug 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0199571120
  • ISBN-13: 978-0199571123
  • Product Dimensions: 21.7 x 6.4 x 27.9 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (437 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 8,219 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Amazon Review

For many speakers and learners of English, the word "Oxford" spells authority about language. The second edition of the Oxford Dictionary of English is no exception. Any dictionary which comes from Oxford University Press (whose origins lie in the Middle Ages, the foundation of the university and the dawn of printing) tends to be in a different league from its competitors.

Based on the "Oxford English Corpus", language databases, which amount to "hundreds of millions of words of written and spoken English in machine-readable form", this hefty single-volume dictionary has four million words of text. That includes 355,000 words phrases and definitions, 12,000 encyclopaedic entries and 68,000 explanations. The statistics are mind blowing.

Like all good dictionaries it's bang up to date. "Greasy spoon", "data smog" and "WMD" are all here, scrupulously glossed. So, of course are wonderful, old, near-obsolete words like "editrice" and "bouffant". Plenty of proper names get in too. Did you know that a "Queensland blue" is a cattle dog with a dark speckled body as opposed to a "Queensland nut" which is another name for the macadamia nut?

Like other new dictionaries the Oxford Dictionary of English provides boxed usage notes which point up, say, the difference between "pedal" and "peddle" or discuss the vexed old question of whether infinitives may be split. More unusual are the 14 detailed appendices on, for example, English in electronic communications, collective nouns and proof-reading marks. Most useful of all is probably the "Guide to Good English" which manages to be both admirably concise and immaculately clear. --Susan Elkin --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.


The Oxford Dictionary of English is more than a dictionary. Every school should own one. (El Gazette)

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Customer Reviews

3.6 out of 5 stars

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

229 of 236 people found the following review helpful By "willerz" on 31 Jan 2006
Format: Hardcover
Just to clear up any confusion you might have: this is a very different dictionary to the Oxford English Dictionary. This work (the New Oxford Dictionary of English - commonly abbreviated as the NODE) is intended as a reference for contemporary English usage; hence, for instance, it contains a definition for "minger" and defines "they" as both the third person plural and third person non-gender-specific singular pronoun. If you believe that dictionaries should be prescriptive rather than descriptive this will be anathema to you. If, however, you belong to the descriptive camp (or indeed want to understand what your grandchildren are saying) you'll love it.
The dictionary is layed out in 3 columns per page, the columns are about the right width for my taste but if you're used to large 2-column dictionaries you mat find them too small.
A nice touch is the vowel and consonant pronunciation symbol guides; they're repeated in the bottom margin throughout the book, which makes looking them up a lot more convenient than if they were hidden in an appendix. I also like the markers for each letter which are visible from the outside, they make finding the right place from scratch a lot more convenient.
The binding is very good: the dictionary stays open at the page you left it, and the central margins are wide enough that there is no difficulty reading to the edges of the inner columns. The paper is quite thin, as it has to be to fit 2088 pages into a reasonable-sized volume; that said, the pages are nicely opaque and it doesn't feel as though they will be easily torn in normal use.
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11 of 11 people found the following review helpful By J. Davis VINE VOICE on 26 Oct 2009
Format: Hardcover
If it says 'Oxford' on it, it's worth a look. The 'Oxford Dictionary of English' is my well-thumbed resource for the definition and description of just about any word I seek. It's not the most complete dictionary of English, but for everyday desk use it's almost perfect. It's not a replacement for a good thesaurus or style guide. The 9pt serif type on a bright white background is quite legible. The book is 11 x 8.5 x 2.5 inches, and weighs about 5lbs. There are 2,054 pages of actual dictionary, in addition to front and back matter. The binding needs to be stronger, and the slick paper jacket slips and rips with constant one-handed retrieval from the shelf, so you might want to take it off.

The American usage version -- almost a necessity nowadays for writers and editors -- has identical specs.
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10 of 10 people found the following review helpful By richml15 on 4 Sep 2011
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Dictionary and part encyclopedia (also spelt: encyclopaedia) as a reference tool this is fantastic. I am doing an Open University degree and this dictionary is a must, it provides complete definitions and guides on word usage. If you like provoking an argument amongst language snobs this is a mine of useful ammunition. Every curious mind should have a copy.
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83 of 90 people found the following review helpful By Zordano on 16 Oct 2004
Format: Hardcover
Precise, comprehensive, meticulous, rich: for extent and scope - the only single volume dictionary of English to own.
Editors Catherine Soanes and Angus Stevenson have revised and updated the pioneering work of Judy Pearsall (Editor) and Patrick Hanks (Chief Editor, Current English Dictionaries) who led production of the outstanding 'The New Oxford Dictionary of English' in 1998.
This revision builds upon that body of work - adding 3,000 fresh words, senses and phrases. The editors and their team drew upon a new 100 million word Oxford English corpus. As with the 1998 dictionary, it focuses its definitions on current usage.
What gives this indispensable breadth and depth is its layout of core senses and subsenses within each definition and the provision of word history: etymology (word origin) and morphology (word form) as well as reference to development of both sense and form.
This provides a rich reference work that would strengthen anyone's vocabulary and sharpen accuracy of expression.
Surely as a living language flows through everyday life, such dictionaries help fight the mudslides?
Its sibling Thesaurus is equally worthwhile, having also undergone useful revision and improvement.
This edition also adds usage guidance where prudent and includes new Appendices: a very useful 'Guide to Good English' and encyclopaedia like information (including: countries and their capitals; States of the USA; weights & measures; punctuation marks; alphabets; the chemical elements; data on the solar system; proofreading marks; Prime Ministers and Presidents; Internet Forum & Chatroom keystroke emoticons :~) and shorthand ('FYI' etc); collective nouns; and even categories of wind forces!).
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48 of 52 people found the following review helpful By Peter Biddlecombe VINE VOICE on 1 Oct 2009
Format: Hardcover
[This review is based on the 2005 2nd edition. I'm confident that the 2010 3rd edition will be just as good.]

Beats the competition (Chambers Dictionary, Collins English Dictionary) on price (when I wrote this ...) and on competence as a dictionary. The encyclopaedic entries are better than Collins (which ignores people for this purpose) and Chambers which simply doesn't have any.

Definitions are clear, there are 20-odd appropriate appendices, and some daft stories like "Port out, Starboard home" are quietly dealt with. Sample definition differences: "axel" (ice skating jump) - Oxford and Collins name the edges involved, whereas Chambers just says "from one skate to the other"; trombone (shape thereof): Chambers has the tube "bent twice on itself, with a slide", Collins has "a tube, the effective length of which is varied by means of a U-shaped slide", and Oxford has "straight tubing in three sections, ending in a bell over the player's left shoulder, different fundamental notes being made using a forward-pointing extendable slide". Oxford's seems clearest, with "extendable" a crucially important word in conveying what happens, and the right sense of "bell" clearly explained too.

There are informative usage notes dealing with issues like the difference between life assurance and life insurance, the incorrectness of "you should of asked" (under "of", and cross-referenced under "should"), confusions like site/sight and your/you're, sensitive stuff like Lapp/Sami, informal words like "innit", and grammar niggles like "a sandwich or other snack is included" vs. "a sandwich and other snack are included". Looking at a random selection of these, every one seems both appropriate and based on experience of mistakes that people make or questions that often arise.
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