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The Compact Edition of The Oxford English Dictionary, Complete Text Reproduced Micrographically (in slipcase with reading glass) (v. 1-20) 2 Sub Edition

157 customer reviews
ISBN-13: 978-0198612582
ISBN-10: 0198612583
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Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

Proper words in their proper places--and a good many improper ones, too! If the OED's many obsolete definitions tend to be the most enjoyable--shuff is dialect for "shy," dolt was once upon a time a verb as well, meaning "to befool"--everyday idiosyncrasies still abound. But, for instance, occupies nine columns of text, and who would wish a single line away? There's also the sublime pleasure of trawling through the sea of relevant quotations. The OED's initial team of "voluntary readers" was asked to cite as many phrases as possible for both archaic and ordinary terms. None seems to have found this remotely arduous, and we now reap the ubiquitous ("present or appearing everywhere; omnipresent") rewards. This huge venture is a labor of lore, love, and good humor. One caveat: If you skip over the Historical Introduction, you'll miss learning about the Unregistered Words Committee, and overlook the wry warning, "If there is any truth in the old Greek maxim that a large book is a great evil, English dictionaries have been steadily growing worse ever since their inception...."

Review

From the reviews of the Second Edition of The Oxford English Dictionary: `The gigantic total picture of the English language...an epic achievement.' Anthony Burgess, Observer

`The greatest dictionary in any language.' Geoffrey Wheatcroft, Daily Telegraph

`A stupendous achievement.' William Golding, Evening Standard

`The greatest reference book ever written.' Stephen Jay Gould, Nature

`A national treasure.' New Statesman and Society

`Has no real rival in any language.' Godfrey Smith, Sunday Times

`One of the wonders of the world...the thing's a triumph.' Richard Boston, Guardian

'This is the best.' Philip Howard, The Times

'one of the wonders of the modern world ... it is fun to plunge into this colossal book and be ambushed by some unknown word or variation at the turn of every page or, in the case of the Compact edition, of every nine pages. This is a book all literate people will want to give themselves for Christmas, if they cannot persuade anyone else to give it to them. And the OUP should be given the Nobel prize, or something better.' Illustrated London News

'virtually impossible to fault ... this is simply the finest dictionary around' Ian Shuttleworth, City Limits
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 2424 pages
  • Publisher: Oxford University Press; 2 Sub edition (December 5, 1991)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0198612583
  • ISBN-13: 978-0198612582
  • Product Dimensions: 19 x 5.7 x 12.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 15 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (157 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #74,894 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

366 of 372 people found the following review helpful By Thomas J. Brucia on June 19, 2001
Format: Hardcover
This dictionary is unequalled (see the praise of all the other reviewers, with whom I agree regarding the quality of this reference). Beyond excellence loom are other issues, however: weight and legibility are the most obvious. My balance beam scale indicates that it weighs (approximately) 11-3/4 pounds (i.e. 5-1/3 kg). So when a reviewer says this edition is 'heavy' this is what he means.... Note that the dimensions (sometimes called 'big') are 3.89 inches x 17.55 inches x 11.21 inches.... As to legibility, I cannot find any mention of the point size, so I will be more subjective. I am 55 years old and I wear progressive lens (in other words I'm both farsighted and nearsighted!). In average light if I take my glasses off I can read the definitions WITHOUT the magnifying glass, though the words sometimes alternately blur and sharpen, so it's sometimes a stretch. I find it quite easy to read WITH the magnifying glass, especially under a lamp. True, the tiny print means it's not like reading a John LeCarre paperback, but this is a * dictionary *, for Pete's sake! I use it to solve linguistics puzzles. Tonight I was stumped by the words "theophoric" and "enclitic" (both in reference to scribal practices involving the copying of the Hebrew Bible). So I lugged the monster down from my bookcase (where it lies flat!), skipped pulling out the magnifying glass, and looked up the definitions, pausing as my eyes would go in and out of focus (I can be quite lazy when I'm lying prone on the carpet and don't want to get up to get the magnifier!). I am absolutely happy with my purchase. My wife would not be, partly because she would be shocked to discover what I paid for it, and partly because her case of early macular degeneration would probably make it unavailable to her.Read more ›
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161 of 164 people found the following review helpful By Dev Ramcharan on August 30, 2000
Format: Hardcover
"Colonials" like me grew up in the shadow of this Everest of scholarship and the Himalayan series founded on its contents. And now, if we choose to, we can actually own the set, in its 2nd Edition. This is a very desirable acquisition.
Perhaps you worry that it might be an unwise purchase. We live in the age of the CD ROM, so why buy the printed volumes? The language seems to operate like a wheel rolling down a muddy slope picking up all manner of accretions as it progresses downhill. Will a work like this, then, become irrelevant? I think not. The citation formula used will always be relevant for readers interested in historical usage. The entire work constitutes, in a way, a history of the English Language, as well as a social history of English speaking peoples from the 12th century through to the end of the 20th century. Some scholars say it is unduly biased in the direction of English Victorian values, with a creeping pre-disposition toward a prescriptive rather than a descriptive stance on definitions. The compilers seem to want to position it to be a final arbiter on "Correct Usage". Who cares? It is manna in the wilderness to anyone who loves the language, who likes to browse, and is not stimulated by the inanity of television. If Political Correctness is the filter through which all literature must pass for you, you'll probably not read very much of value, anyway.
No other dictionary is so richly enjoyable as a work to read on its own. One does not go to the OED just to find the meaning of a word, one is beguiled, on opening a volume, to read many pages about all kinds of words. You'll never walk into the British Museum or the Louvre just to look at a single piece of Art and leave having looked only at that one piece.
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103 of 103 people found the following review helpful By Nixta on February 19, 2006
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I've wanted one of these beasts since I was about 12 and saw one at a friend's house. Quite aside from the content, it's beautiful. A work of love and tremendous labour.

I'm surprised by those that complain that it's hard to lug around. It belongs on a writing desk or its own plinth. It should never move more than 2 feet. Oxford University Press publish many abridged versions that cater to the more mobile readership.

Remember, this is a 20 volume book squished into one (more on that in a moment). The print will be small. I have nearly perfect eyesight though and having arrived off a long-haul flight the other day to find this waiting for me, I must admit that tiredness did indeed necessitate use of the magnifying glass. However, I just tried again and can read it just fine in good light without any artificial aid.

Now. Amazon. Dear dear me. When one pays $217 (the price has gone up in the past couple of days, I see) for a delicate gem of a book (remember, you started life as booksellers, after all), even though that book should cost nearly twice as much, one does not expect some intern to have removed it from its packaging, and stuck two security tags in it. One on a page over the tiny exquisite print (a delicate operation to remove without apparent damage). One in the box at the back. Nor indeed does one expect this process to have folded the accompanying guidebook in two. Furthermore (and worse still) a number of the pages of the dictionary itself had been folded en-masse, presumably also during this clumsy tagging process.
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The Compact Edition of The Oxford English Dictionary, Complete Text Reproduced Micrographically (in slipcase with reading glass) (v. 1-20)
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Price: $369.51
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