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Shorter Oxford English Dictionary, Fifth Edition 5th Edition

35 customer reviews
ISBN-13: 978-0198604570
ISBN-10: 0198604572
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Comment: PLEASE READ FULL DESCRIPTION* Text is unmarked, pages are bright. Spine is uncreased. Binding is tight. Dust Jacket has light wear. Inside no writing or highlighting.
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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Bollywood, gangsta, big hair and D'oh (… la Homer Simpson) are among the 3,000 new words in this latest edition of the renowned dictionary. The two-volume set offers over 33% of the complete Oxford English Dictionary, with over a half million definitions, the same emphasis on etymology and the evolving usage of a word through history. Examples of usage, presented in specially tinted boxes, are taken from great works of literature, period newspapers and political oratory, with sources ranging from Gibbon to S.J. Perelman; there are 83,500 illustrative quotes from 7,000 authors. The new volumes also boast contributions from the United States, India, South Africa and the rest of the English-speaking world. And no need for a magnifying glass-the page design is clean and remarkably easy to read, with the featured words in large, bold print. With the major ad/promo Oxford plans for this title, expect vigorous sales, and for years to come.
Copyright 2002 Reed Business Information, Inc.

From Booklist

Considering it was 20 years between the third and fourth editions of this work, this "abridgement" of Oxford's flagship OED after fewer than 10 years is most welcome. Given some of the advance publicity and advertisements, Oxford is clearly aware that to win in the dictionary wars (at least in the eyes of the general public), it is necessary to emphasize newer words added to the dictionary. The general coverage of the volumes remains largely unchanged from the fourth edition, however, even retaining the previous edition's preface and adding a briefer preface for the current edition. Still, some welcome changes have been made.

Like the previous edition, this work "sets out the main meanings and semantic developments of words current at any time between 1700 and the present day." Words such as achtande, knottle, or pompal (all present in OED Online) that are obsolete, obsolete variations, or rare are therefore not included. Words obsolete by 1700 are still included, however, if used by authors such as Shakespeare or other "influential literary sources." Headwords are traced back to their earliest usage. The dust jacket from the work claims it has "more than one third of the coverage of the OED" and more than half a million definitions, with 83,500 illustrative quotations from 7,000 authors. Although the preface does not cite the number of new entries, publicity from Oxford states that 3,500 new words have been added to this edition. An actual headword count is not given, though the publisher's Web site puts the number at 97,600.

The most welcome change to this edition is that the text is much easier on the eyes than in the fourth edition. Most notably, the illustrative quotations are placed within a tinted text box, making them very easy to spot. In the main entries, each definition sense is now started on a new line in clear, bold numbers (the older edition had all the senses grouped together in one paragraph), and etymologies are spelled out, with Old English or Middle Low German replacing the fourth edition's OE or MLG, respectively. Addressing a criticism RBB had of the fourth edition, abbreviations are now within regular alphabetical order rather than placed at the beginning of the alphabet.

Unfortunately, one thing the Shorter OED has not changed is its tradition of abbreviating dates of first use--and, when needed, of last use--for a headword (L19 for late-nineteenth century, M20 for mid-twentieth century). Because even collegiate dictionaries now routinely spell out a date range for first use, it is time Oxford adopted a similar approach. It would also be useful to attach a date to the illustrative quotations used rather than just citing the author.

With both OED Online and the print Oxford English Dictionary too expensive for many libraries, this is a reasonably priced work that includes the requisite neologisms (Bollywood, full monty, and phat, among others) to make it a goof-proof purchase for all libraries, even those owning the parent work. The Shorter OED has some entries (Jedi, Klingon, and warp drive) that are not even included in OED Online. In short, this is one badass dictionary deserving a place in almost every library. RBB
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 3793 pages
  • Publisher: Oxford University Press; 5 edition (December 31, 2002)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0198604572
  • ISBN-13: 978-0198604570
  • Product Dimensions: 12.2 x 9.4 x 5.7 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 13.4 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (35 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #789,057 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

148 of 151 people found the following review helpful By Robert Bezimienny on October 8, 2002
Format: Hardcover
The clarity of the typeface and page design of this, the 2002 edition, is beyond compare. It is by far the most enjoyable dictionary to view, in my experience at least, and a great improvement over the previous edition.
*
Prior to purchase, I borrowed a friend's Compact Oxford English Dictionary with magnifying glass, thinking this might be preferable. While incredibly entertaining, with its extensive historical quotations, the format ultimately defeated me. In natural light, I could read the microtype with the nude eye, however this was a strain. This made it difficult to search within an entry for the particular sub-definition pertinent to my needs, and it discouraged incidental exploration of surrounding words (one of the great joys of a dictionary, for me) - the magnifier, with its limited field, does not rectify these problems - if anything it exacerbates them.
*
In contrast, this edition of the Shorter Oxford makes it a pleasure to browse adjacent words - the main words, in startlingly clear bold type, leap off the page and tickle one's interest; and within an entry orientation is easy.
*
This is a very comprehensive dictionary in its own right. Initially I was concerned that it comes billed as featuring only a third of the entries of the full (or Compact) OED. The concerns were unwarranted - the Shorter contains every word used by Shakespeare, the standard version of the Bible, and a host of arcane usages - with this on the bookshelf, one can read Cormac McCarthy and feel safe.
*
All in all, if the aesthetics of using a dictionary matter to you, as they do for me, then this must come close to being the perfect edition.
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145 of 150 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on October 19, 2002
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I ordered this 2-volume dictionary after purchasing, and subsequently returning, the latest edition of the Compact Oxford Dictionary. The Shorter Oxford Dictionary is very easy on the eyes and quite a good browsing dictionary. The micrographic Compact Oxford Dictionary is certainly more exhaustive but is a real pain in the gluteus maximus to use (e.g., the eyestrain it inflicts, even with the big magnifying glass, etc). Oxford Publishing made a big, big mistake in going from a two-volume set with four OED pages reproduced onto each page to a one-volume tome with nine OED pages reproduced onto each page when they published the second edition of the Compact Oxford Dictionary.
Anyhow, the Shorter Oxford is a happy compromise if you haven't the shelf space or the budget for the 20-volume OED. However, I somehow feel that a bit too much page space is wasted in this latest edition. I realize they allowed for a lot of space between entries, margin area, etc in order for the book to be more eye-friendly, but I'd rather they'd used more of the available space to include more of the contents of the OED.
Nevertheless, this is an excellent reference, and certainly better than any ordinary dictionary for home, school, or office.
(However, I must admit I'd someday like to own the full 20-volume Oxford English Dictionary(OED))
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59 of 60 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on January 13, 2003
Format: Hardcover
This two-volume dictionary is a perfect choice for most people. Single volume dictionaries, such as the American Heritage and New Oxford American English, pale in comparison.
There are no pictures and very few biographical entries. I find this a plus as it allows for more headwords.
The layout is very clean and easy on the eyes. Judicious spacing makes the bold headwords easy to find.
It should be noted that this edition replaces the fourth edition New Shorter Oxford English Dictionary.
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59 of 61 people found the following review helpful By Gus G. on February 5, 2005
Format: Hardcover
I am very upset with this 2 volume dictionary by Oxford. Having read previous reviews dated back to 2003 on defective copies, I was hoping that in 2005 there would be no more defective copies in circulation.

However, after receiving my copy I am missing pages 1122-1171 and 1219-1221 missing from the 1st volume. From the 2nd volume I have pages 1795-1828 inserted between pages 3692 and 3705.

I contacted Amazon and they are sending me a replacement copy. They let me keep the defective copies as the shipping costs were too expensive for Amazon to reimburse me.

If the replacement copies are defective again, I will ask Amazon for a refund.

If you are planning on purchase a copy, be careful, check the other reviews for potential defects. Remember you always have the option for a refund.
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56 of 60 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on July 11, 2003
Format: Hardcover
I'll agree with everything that most reviewers have to say about the Shorter OED. If you're a serious writer, it's a valuable resource, since it includes all of the words in common English use since 1700, plus words included in earlier major writers such as Shakespeare. It's particularly useful if you're interested in the history of words and how definitions or spellings may have changed over time. In my own writing, I deal with material that spans different eras that may be in a document or part of an era I'm writing about. If the historical aspect is less important to you than just getting a reference for spelling, pronunciation and meaning, I'd recommend Merrium Webster's or American Heritage.
Although a great resource, I did find a printing defect in my copy -- pages 3704-3693 are bound upside down.
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