- Paperback: 288 pages
- Publisher: OUP Oxford; New Ed edition (23 Sept. 2004)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0192805762
- ISBN-13: 978-0192805768
- Product Dimensions: 12.7 x 1.5 x 19.3 cm
- Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars See all reviews (12 customer reviews)
- Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 44,847 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
- See Complete Table of Contents
The Meaning of Everything: The Story of the Oxford English Dictionary Paperback – 23 Sep 2004
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Ask a logophile or crossword-puzzle addict what the holiest of holy reference works might be, and you're almost certain to receive a three-letter acronym in reply: the OED. The Meaning of Everything is its story. Now in 20 volumes and still growing, the Oxford English Dictionary is an astounding monument, one that, like the Great Wall and the Roman Forum, seems to have been around forever. But, writes the always interesting explorer Simon Winchester in, it took decades--and considerable sums of money--to bring it into being. The Scottish autodidact James Augustus Henry Murray, surrounded by a small army of underpaid and overworked helpers, laboured over it for more than half a century, seeing into print "a total of 227,779,589 letters and numbers, occupying fully 178 miles of type" that brought the elusive histories of words such as walrus (courtesy of JRR Tolkien) and cow ("the female of any bovine animal", courtesy of Murray himself) into sharp relief. The making of the great dictionary over the years and decades seems an unlikely topic for a sometimes romantic, sometimes suspenseful tale, but Winchester delivers just that. Those who cherish words will find it a constant pleasure. --Gregory McNamee --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
compelling reading. Winchester is excellent on the theory and practice of lexicography (Sunday Times)
Irresistible (The Independent)
Simon Winchester's book is a fascinating catalogue of political wrangles, logistical conundrums and personal battles that underlay the work's creation. This book is a delightful curiosity (Zoe Green, Daily Telegraph)
Splendid history of the OED (The Scotsman)
Splendid history of the OED (Evening Standard)
Simon Winchester has told this story with a touch of human drama and with a true sense of the social history that surrounded the enterprise. (Stephen Wade, Contemporary Review)
A lively and largely informative chronicle of a still-staggering enterprise (Helen Zaltzman, Observer)
Review from previous edition My book of the year, for pure pleasure...an exuberant, serious, funny, short, full, entrancingly readable account (Jane Gardam, Spectator)
absorbing and entertaining (Times Literary Supplement)
the account is engaging and its conclusion a triumph...an absorbing account (The Scotsman)
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Top Customer Reviews
This is a publication still in progress. The OED now has plans for a BBC television show that hunts for words and word origins; the website edition of the OED is in constant revision and very heavily used. According to the OED, 'The Oxford English Dictionary is the accepted authority on the evolution of the English language over the last millennium. It is an unsurpassed guide to the meaning, history, and pronunciation of over half a million words, both present and past. It traces the usage of words through 2.5 million quotations from a wide range of international English language sources, from classic literature and specialist periodicals to film scripts and cookery books.' How did it come to have such authority in the English language?
One thing to consider about the difference between English and a language such as French is that there is no definitive central authority that has official imprimatur over linguistic matters.Read more ›
Simon Winchester is by far one of my favorite authors becuase, as a great writer should be able to do, he can turn the most mundate topics into narrative masterpieces. He has done this so many times before and he has certainly done it again with this book. I have already read it twice. It is a truly absorbing read and five stars is not enough!
WINCHESTER WHO HAS EARLIER WRITTEN A FOREWORD TO MODERN ENGLISH USASGE BY FOWLER IS INDEED THE SUITABLE AUTHOR FOR THIS MINI-HISTORY OF OXFORD UNIVERSITY.
FOWLER FOR WHOSE BOOK WINCHESTER HAS WRITTEN A FOREWORD RAISED EYEBROWS ON THE USAGE OF DASHES IN HIS SECTION DEALING WITH PUNCTUATIONS. FOWLER USED TO ASSOCIATE DASH MARK WITH AFTERTHOUGHTS OF THE AUTHOR WHILE COMMUNICATING HIS IDEAS TO THE READERS. HE EXHORTED HIS COUNTRY MEN TO AVOID USING DASHES BY CITING THE INDISCRIMINATE USE OF THE SAME BY LAURANCE STERNE IN HIS TRISTAM SHANDY. I AM BRINGING THIS FACTOR ONLY BECAUSE WINCHESTER ALSO REVELLED IN USING DASHES TO A MAXIMUM EXTENT IN HIS PRESENT WORK. NOTWITHSTANDING THE USAGE OF DASHES THE SENTENCES WERE FULLY BALANCED AND CONVEYED CLEAR SENSE TO THE READER WHEN COMPARED TO THE CLUMSY RENDITION OF LAURANCE STERNE IN TRISTAM SHANDY WHICH FOWLER FROWNED
ON THE WHOLE A GOOD READ
Most Recent Customer Reviews
magical book ,a potentially dry subject ends up not being dry at all !Published 6 months ago by Amazon Customer
Some of the story of what is arguably the greatest dictionary (the OED) developed in any language. Simon Winchester is a great writer - read and enjoy.Published 23 months ago by K. Doust
This was interesting reading for anyone who is fascinated by language. It's well written and well read (I had it as an audiobook).Published on 1 April 2014 by Britta Bengtsson
It was worth reading but I found the style irritating. Far to many words say very little. I think he swallowed a dictionary.
There are very few authors who would have attempted this task and made such a success as Simon Winchester. Read morePublished on 25 Nov. 2011 by Paul Morris
The 20 volume Oxford English dictionary in certain circles is considered a legend. This is the story of its birth, a labour of love, if ever there was one. Read morePublished on 18 May 2010 by Oliveman
Okay, so the book "Meaning of Everything" is not quite the equivalent of a Doctor Who's tardis enabling to learn everything by reading the 260 page book of this name written by... Read morePublished on 12 Aug. 2009 by Darren Simons
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