The Oxford English Dictionary, published by the Oxford University Press, is a comprehensive dictionary of the English Language that stresses the historical origins of words. The online edition provides quick and easy access to approximately 600,000 words from 1150 C.E. to the present day, with details of their meaning, history, and pronunciation, both present and past. It traces the usage of words through three million quotations from a wide range of international English language sources, from classic literature to film scripts and cookery books. Hundreds of new entries are added every year, with the aim of producing a completely updated third edition. Draft material from the revision program is published online, alongside unrevised entries from the 2nd Edition (1989) and its Additions Series (1993,1997). Quarterly updates revise existing entries and add new words.
As the Oxford English Dictionary is a historical dictionary, its entry structure is very different from that of a dictionary of current English, in which only present-day senses are covered, and in which the most common meanings or senses are described first. For each word in the dictionary, the various groupings of senses are dealt with in chronological order according to the quotation evidence, i.e. the senses with the earliest quotations appear first, and the senses which have developed more recently appear further down the entry. In a complex entry with many strands, the development over time can be seen in a structure with several 'branches'.
A wonderful resource for English language studies, the Oxford English Dictionary is a living document that has been growing and changing for 140 years. It not only provides an important record of the evolution of the language, but also documents the continuing development of society. All students and faculty are invited to explore the treasures of the Dictionary during this extended trial period. Please contact Richard Kearney ( x2165 / firstname.lastname@example.org ) if you have any questions about the Oxford English Dictionary online.