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The Oxford English Dictionary [Leather Bound]

John Simpson , Edmund Weiner
3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (16 customer reviews)

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Hardcover 400.00  
Leather Bound, 6 April 1989 --  
Multimedia CD --  
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Book Description

6 April 1989 0191958921 978-0191958922 2
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.

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Product details

  • Leather Bound: 21728 pages
  • Publisher: Clarendon Press; 2 edition (6 April 1989)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0191958921
  • ISBN-13: 978-0191958922
  • Product Dimensions: 104.1 x 55.9 x 45.7 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (16 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 5,087,040 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description


"A national treasure." -- New Statesman & Society

"A stupendous achievement." -- William Golding, Evening Standard

"The greatest reference book ever written." -- Stephen Jay Gould, Nature

`A national treasure.' -- New Statesman & Society

`A stupendous achievement.' -- Please enter a source for this review.William Golding, Evening Standard

`The gigantic total picture of the English language...an epic achievement.' (Refers to Second Edition of The Oxford English Dictionary) -- Anthony Burgess, Observer

`The greatest reference book ever written.' -- Stephen Jay Gould, Nature --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.


I remember a favourite editor of mine who, when reaching for his OED, would say: `Let us consult the final court of appeal.' To me, it has been many things besides that: an encyclopaedia as well as a word-hoard; an intelligent and knowledgeable friend who never sleeps and whose patience never runs out; an ally in the struggle against stock expressions (and at the Scrabble table); a Borgesian library constituted as a shrine to the story of English --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
50 of 53 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars THE WIDEST WORLD OF WORDS --- LITERALLY 18 Oct 2002
I f you love words, their meanings and origins, (and you've got a few quid or dollars to spare — and have got the shelf space), you've just got to get yourself a hardcopy set of the OED.
With the world of words rapidly going on-line, this definitive 20-volume lexicon of the English language will in a generation or so almost certainly become a collector's item if not a museum piece.
The OED is an incredible record of 19th and 20th Century Anglophone civilization, and deserves to become a treasured heirloom by our grandchildren and further generations in this new Millennium.
Dictionaries are much more than spellcheckers and crossword puzzle solvers. A dictionary like the OED has its real power and value in its use as an etymological tool. It’s the origin of words and where they were first used that gives us a fundamental understanding of our language.
For lovers of Shakespeare there are references to words first appearing in his works on almost every page of the OED. A great on-line project would be to hyperlink a "Complete Works" of the Bard to the OED with all the non-common words he uses.
One word of warning to book lovers and potential owners of the OED ---- Make sure your four feet of shelf space is well shielded from direct sunlight. Those gorgeous royal blue fly-covers will fade very quickly if over exposed to UV.
If you were given the choice of what books you could take to that hypothetical desert island, the OED would have to be the linguaphiles choice. It is the perfect encapsulation and guide to what our language and culture is all about.
As a footnote you have to admire that quirky but subtle British humour that shines through even in the serious world of dictionary publishing.
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19 of 21 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Probably the best dictionary in the world 15 Nov 2005
This is what you will get for your money, starting from the outside and working in:
• This single volume comes very well packed in a box containing another box with a magnifying glass and an 80 page User's Guide;
• The dictionary has a nice, sturdy, black slipcase with gold lettering;
• The book itself is bound in strong, slate blue/grey board and fabric covers with gold lettering on the spine and embossed front cover;
• There are about eight pages of titles, contents and so on in normal sized print;
• The next eight pages have introductory information, general explanations, keys to pronunciation, abbreviations and so forth, micrographically reproduced but still readable with the naked eye (my eye managed it naked at least);
• There are 2,371 pages of actual dictionary, ie 500,000 definitions, 137,000 pronunciations, 249,000 etymologies and 2.4 million illustrative quotations;
• Finally, there are 16 pages of bibliography.
I'm delighted with this dictionary to the point of enthusiastic ranting. I was worried about the possibility of not being able to read the text with the magnifying glass provided. I think the Oxford University Press may have changed the glass recently, as I've seen illustrations with a rectangular magnifier. My copy came with a lovely hemispheric chunk of smooth glass in a black holding frame (not to hold it over the book but to keep smudgy finger marks off it). It works incredibly well. I just sit it on the bit I want to read and the text is as clear and crisp as I could wish. I was prepared to buy another magnifier if necessary, as a previous reviewer suggested, but there's no need. The text is, indeed, very minute.
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23 of 26 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars An affordable version of the definitive edition 11 May 2000
By A Customer
The 20 volume Oxford English dictionary has long been a favourite since my College days when I simply enjoyed opening it at any given page and seeing what new delights unfolded.
I could not afford the complete 20 volume edition of the College library but I jumped at the compact edition when it was first released simply to have some form of copy of this definitive dictionary. Unfortunately the print is really too small to see for any length of time with the naked eye, and the supplied magnifying glass is inadequate in power. I have not used it nearly as much as when the 20 volume edition was available to me.
I can only give this version of the dictionary four stars. This is not for the content of the book, which I would undoubtedly rate at five, nor for the technical achievements in compacting all that print to fit within a single volume. The four stars are not five because the small print discourages the slow, casual enjoyment of the book which I, and probably many others, have enjoyed when using the original.
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21 of 24 people found the following review helpful
Four heavy volumes are included in each package, which is just regular corrugated cardboard held together with narrow plastic packing straps, so almost every corner of every volume is buckled, and quite a lot of the pages, too. Most of the boxes were burst open, so if the weather had been wet the books would have been ruined.
(I tried to put these comments in "packaging feedback" but because Amazon.co.uk delegated the order to Amazon EU they won't accept feedback!)
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
The content of this book hardly needs commenting on as the complete OED is in a league of its own; its wide scope coupled with its impeccable scholarship makes it a powerful research tool in questions regarding for instance the historical development of the English language.

Physically it is a very large book, folio sized. To cram the entire 20-volume OED2 into a single volume, the text has been reproduced minutely, indeed - however, I found it much easier to use than previously expected. The spherical magnifier enclosed makes the print perfectly readable to me and it works very well, and I must admit that I do appreciate the almost archaic 'feel' this manner of reading produces for me at least. I do believe though, that people with poor eyesight might find it difficult to use, as the print is still rather small after magnification.

I can confidently say that having a resource as this at hand has greatly increased my working knowledge of the nuances present in older usage of English, as opposed to contemporary English. Words have changed meanings, which can be very problematic when reading texts that are centuries old - but fear not with the OED at hand.

This book is not cheap, but it is fairly priced in my opinion - it should be regarded as an intellectual investment rather than as a single book as I see it.

The only thing that I would like to see different with this volume is that the abbreviations employed in the book and other more often used reference material should have been printed in a booklet or other format to the same effect - for ease of use.

In short, I fully recommend the one-volume version of the OED2 for reasons stated above.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
3.0 out of 5 stars Check the Detail not the picture!
This will be a Christmas present for our daughter and I am sure that she will be very pleased with it. It is in excellent condition. Read more
Published 5 months ago by Rupert Hartley
3.0 out of 5 stars Good, but not good enough, at this level of things !!!
A few things about who I am.
I was sorts of a prodigious child.
I learned and started to read at the age of 4 in 1984 with some help from the drawing cards published by... Read more
Published 7 months ago by Mario
5.0 out of 5 stars World's best dictionary. World's best source of original information.
World's best etymology and examples for use in research, essays or fun. Very well packed and presented with good accessories and case.
Published 11 months ago by geni
5.0 out of 5 stars SUPERB!
A superb publication, indispensable to all lovers of English. I would thus recommend it to all those who care about English.
Published 16 months ago by ANNA NOLAN
1.0 out of 5 stars A Travesty ( and that's the RIGHT word )
Obviously I can have no issues with the substance and scholarship of this great work - no, I'm concerned solely with the Format of THIS micro-graphically reproduced version. Read more
Published 17 months ago by observer
1.0 out of 5 stars Boring
I have to say I approached this with an open mindedness but I'm sorry it's just too way out there. There's no hint of plot and the characters are few and far between, and when they... Read more
Published 22 months ago by Mr. D. J. Henry
3.0 out of 5 stars OED ist great, magnifying glass utterly disappointing
I'm sorry but I strongly disagree with the other reviewers: the spherical magnifying glass is way too poor! Read more
Published on 15 Jan 2011 by Marco Simionato
5.0 out of 5 stars A JOY
I must disagree with those who criticize the size of the type. It is not, of course, ideal. However, the choice for most people is simple; buy the compact edition or do without. Read more
Published on 6 Dec 2003 by J Grainger
5.0 out of 5 stars The daddy
This is a colossal, epic work, and one which is absolutely beautiful. The overriding feeling is one of gratitude and awe at the scale of what has been done here. Read more
Published on 6 Nov 2001 by "widsithww"
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