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Customer Reviews

4.1 out of 5 stars18
4.1 out of 5 stars
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on 18 October 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. Check out the spines of Volumes VII and XVII where they are indexed with the first and last word in each volume.
In Volume VII we have " Hat -- Intervacuum ". Is the OED subtly telling us what lurks under a Stetson? Volume XVI is indexed from " Soot -- Styx'. Is this evidence that there is a hot and smoky welcome on the other side of that river between here and hell?
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on 11 May 2000
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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on 15 November 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. There are nine micrographically reproduced pages from the 20 volume edition, per page of the compact edition: three across and three down. But the quality of the paper and printing are such that each character is well defined when viewed through the magnifying glass. I have to confess that my eye-sight is far from perfect so it's a great relief to find that this wonderful dictionary is so easy to read.
In common with many other people who will buy this treasure, I could not have afforded the full, 20 volume OED and nor could I have accommodated it on my book shelves, so this single volume is perfection as far as I'm concerned.
Very highly recommended!
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on 30 October 2010
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 delegated the order to Amazon EU they won't accept feedback!)
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VINE VOICEon 6 December 2003
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. The normal edition is far too expensive for the 'casual' reader to buy.
It remains a joy to browse through it.
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on 28 September 2015
Its the best dictionary that I have by a mile. If you love the origins of words this is a must have. Its also much cheaper than buying the full set of Oxford dictionaries. Just make sure you invest in a good magnifying glass, the one provided will do the job. If however you have bad eyesight, like me, than a slightly more powerful magnifying glass will be a great boon to you.
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on 13 October 2015
This is truly a masterpiece. I ordered this for my husband's birthday. He loves it. It weighed 60 kilos and the delivery was excellent. I recommend this for anyone who is interested in the English language, who writes, or who just wants to leaf through a fascinating history of the language.
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on 6 November 2001
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. Certainly the greatest dictionary in any language - and it's in ours. So get it at once.
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on 15 January 2011
I'm sorry but I strongly disagree with the other reviewers: the spherical magnifying glass is way too poor! The definitions are barely readable, the quotations altogether unreadable -- much of OED's value is lost.
Plan for an additional -- i.e. more powerful -- magnifying glass.
To be avoided if you're planning to use it on a regular basis.
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on 4 September 1999
The OED is generally felt to be the greatest dictionary in any language. However, it is not designed as the sort of dictionary for checking your spelling, or quickly looking up the meanings of words you half understand. There are many dictionaries better suited to that - my favourite is the Collins English Dictionary. The OED is a record of all of the meanings that have adhered to a word in its history. It should be seen as a history of the English language, not as a tool for improving your own. The Compact Edition is the only affordable version. However, the text is so microscopic that reading it is difficult, if not impossible, even with the supplied magnifying glass. For all that, it's a wonderful thing to own.
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