- Leather Bound: 22000 pages
- Publisher: Oxford University Press; 2 edition (June 29, 1989)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0191958921
- ISBN-13: 978-0191958922
- Product Dimensions: 13.8 x 10.7 x 5.8 inches
- Shipping Weight: 14.2 pounds
- Shipping Advisory: This item must be shipped separately from other items in your order. Additional shipping charges will not apply.
- Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars See all reviews (174 customer reviews)
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #12,807,679 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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The Oxford English Dictionary: 20 Volume Set 2nd Edition
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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...." --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.
'It is, of course, the second edition of the greatest dictionary of all'
William Russell, Glasgow Herald
'The dimensions of the dictionary are awe-inspiring. A wonderfully versatile research tool'
'The alpha, the omega, and some 464,000 more words besides. Incomparable.'
The Sydney Morning Herald
'a near miracle of data processing ... a thorough-going revision of the greatest dictionary of the English language ... OED2 is a work that no serious researcher can afford to ignore'
Peter Baker, Emory University, Atlanta, GA, Notes and Queries, March 1991
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Top customer reviews
I also appreciate Amazon's decision to start shipping this by means of a special carrier; it weighs 140 pounds. There have been a number of reviews that suggested there has been a problem shipping this product complete or undamaged. However...
(Sigh...) Somebody on a forklift got little too close to the side of the box in which this set was shipped. As a result, Volumes 10, 12 and 18 have gashes though the dust jackets and the covers are gouged. (I'm about to find out just how good Amazon's ability to replace parts of a set is...)
Perhaps Amazon could recommend to their vendor that placing this set in a reinforced box or a crate would be a good idea. After all, this is such a unique item that it is going to become, in anyone's home, a family heirloom.
There is no reason to add to the superlatives others have used to describe this. I am including the measurements because I wanted them for preparing for its arrival, but the measurements given by Amazon are not very useful.
Each volume is 9 1/2 inches wide and 12 3/8 inches tall and 2 inches thick. Placed on a shelf together, ten volumes measure 22 1/4 inches wide. My glass door bookshelves from IKEA are 10 1/4 inches deep and my oak bookshelves from Fred Myers in Oregon are 10 3/4 inches deep.
In addition to the astounding content, the books are physically beautiful. One of the boxes was severely damaged, even half open, but the books did not have the tiniest blemish on them. The printing, the binding, everything about them is worthy of the content, that is, every word and every meaning and every worthwhile reference of the greatest language in the history of the world.
1963...The random housewife is often prone to Torschlusspanik, or fear of being locked in the park at night, after the gates are closed. 1977 Time 8 Aug. 21/3 She was haunted by Torschluss-panik (mid-life crisis) 1980 Times Lit. Suppl. 187/2 She is perhaps history's most outstanding case of Torschlusspanik: the panic at shutting of the door.
I was alerted to this word by the Concise Oxford's list of Fascinating Words, although the entry could not be found in the Concise Oxford text entries. Torschlusspanik is not found in the Shorter Oxford either. This word, which encapsulates the "male menopause syndrome" was to be found in the 1989 unabridged Oxford, the entry as above. There are some human feelings which can only be found in other languages. I predict that this word will be used increasingly, and will eventually not need to be capitalised nor italicised, as with the word "schadenfreude", now used liberally without capitalisation.
I experience two types of torschlusspanik. Type A when I pass a house which I should have bought when it was dirt cheap, or when I reminisce on a Romance I stupidly did not capitalise on in my younger days, or just simply "why didn't I do this and my life would be so different now". Then there is Type B torschlusspanik, like when I realise that I left the Oxford English Dictionary largely untouched on the shelf for 20 years and did not use it, and wasted the opportunities presented by this excellent work.
I now know why. This dictionary was not placed within easy and ready access, a flaw my current re-purchase will redress. Secondly, there is "kleptophobia", where I was so afraid of losing an individual volume, that the Oxford set was spoilt silly and left largely disused - a reason the lower pricing today will make irrelevant.
I leave 20 volumes within arms reach of my work table nowadays. That is the way to move this valuable chess piece into the centre of the board to advantage. I am no longer afraid of having loose copies nicked.
20 years later, and I find that there is a whole subsidiary industry in the Amazon marketplace where loose copies can be purchased rather cheaply. If fact, if you live in the USA where shipping is just $3.99 per volume, it is possible to assemble a whole set of the OED cheaply by buying individual volumes. Some sellers can ship internationally for only 4.99 shipping per volume. It may be that a few volumes will not be new, and be G or VG or ex-libris copies and these are options for the impatient. I am just making the point that fear of having individual copies nicked is no longer a valid reason for the OED to be accursed to roam only the night, shunning sunlight.
Torschlusspanik is when I realise that the $4,800 (US Dollar equivalent of £2,500 sterling then) I paid for the Oxford set 1989 equates to the 10% down-payment for a Manhattan apartment in 1989. £2,500 was also 10% down-payment for a flat in London's West End in 1989. Torschlusspanik is when I realise I should have put the Oxford to better use all this time.
There are extremely competent technical reviews of the CD 4.0 version elsewhere. Click on the "sold separately" $234 dollar software and find a lively discussion of the Oxford CD rom. Amazonians occasionally get their sums wrong. This hard copy and CD set is currently priced at $1,290. The 20 volume set is $995 and the software bought separately add up to only $1,229 for both. The 20 volume hard copy is priced quite consistently in recent years, with one drop to $950 last year for a brief period. The CD rom, on the other hand, is priced close to $200 at times. I bought my Oxford set/CD rom set at $1,099. I thought this kind of yo-yo pricing is reserved for Blu-ray movies and far removed from the august Oxford Dictionary set.
Even so, Oxford's price today can barely pay a month rental on the same time-travelled Manhattan apartment. The price has come down so much that whether or not to buy the Oxford unabridged is dependent on whether there is space in the aforementioned Manhattan apartment, not the absolute price. Then again, if you click on "Show 3 more formats", there is a 2002 reprint from Intelligent Entertainment at $799.99. Being blessed with fortuitous disposable income, I bought a few new sets from Intelligent Entertainment, so I no longer ever will live in fear of losing copies. These volumes just get thrashed around, underlined, highlighted, whatever; actually utilised and working. That is the way to use this 20 volume sucker - like any other dictionary, instead of treating it with kids' gloves. If you have three queens on the chess board in exchange for three pawns, you can afford a queen sacrifice, a decision which would normally be a crushing loss in chess.
In one episode of the Gilmore Girls, Alexis Bledel really wanted this dictionary very badly. Her father wanted to buy her a set for her birthday, but could not afford it. (The Oxford by then costing a mere 10% down payment for a house in Stars Hollow, a fictional town near Connecticut, actually on a WB studio set behind where they filmed My Fair Lady) Eventually, her father got the grateful Alexis Bledel a copy of the micrographically produced Oxford set, replete with a magnifying glass. If my daughter were so hung up the mother Oxford, I could, at today's prices, afford to buy Miss Gilmore 2 sets, one for Yale and one for home use. Or casually send a CD rom 4.0 version over with some zucchinis.
There must be a catch. The 2009 set with the CD rom is printed in China. It says so clearly on all the 5 boxes. The paper is brighter, whiter, the semi-gloss paper easier to read more pleasing to touch than the 1989 version manufactured by Rand McNally in Mass., USA. This 1989 1st edition has has matt paper which has a beige tint and feels thicker. The edges are blue speckled. The brown speckling from age is camouflaged by the blue speckling, so much so that it has a two tone speckling effect. Otherwise, the 1989 Made in USA version looks as new as the day it was delivered (3 months waiting time then, instead of 3 days currently). This is in spite of the tropical weather in my country which is very harsh to books. My 1989 Oxford never lived in air-conditioned comfort - I did not have round-the-clock library ambient temperature control, so it followed the fate of its owner. The 2002 USA reprint started to have wavy page edges (from humidity) on its own soon after it was taken out of its plastic wrapping, but not the 2009 Chinese reprint which has thicker pages. Nothing which ought to deter you from buying it. At the time of my purchase, $1,099 meant that the CD was thrown in for only $100 more, instead of the full price of $220 (then). There is always a risk of the price going up for something Manufactured in USA, but I very much doubt a China print can command this type of respect and not meet consumer resistance.
My 2002 reprint (mine was the 7th reprint) was printed in the USA, but has the same physical qualities as the China print. Same type of bright white paper, no artistic blue speckling associated with classier tomes. Page edges also go wavy in humidity when taken out of the plastic wrap in the tropics. The 2002 USA reprint only cost me 799.99 from Intelligent Entertainment (Fulfilment by Amazon).
My 1989 edition, of course, did not have the corrections made in 1991.
Still, the 1989 one that cost a 10% deposit on a prime apartment has a touch of class. (The Leather Bound set must have been the 10% deposit on a Penthouse with a view of the Hudson, but I do not put myself in this league, so you have to read the review specifically for that de luxe edition: the gist was that the owner could barely use it as it needed very careful handling) The 1989 set is unwieldy, not so well balanced and the pages are harder to flip. For practical use, and for the price today, the 2002 USA or 2009 printed in China sets are good value and look very solid.
The same Volume 18 with the word Torchlusspanik was put on my Paediatric weighing scale (appropriately accurate for this weight range). The 1989 version with matt pages tips the scale at 2.85 kg, the later white page versions at a lesser 2.75 kg.
Not all volumes are of the same weight or thickness, and the difference is visible. Hence all the volumes had to be individually hand-wrapped with plastic. If you are trying to put the volumes on two shelves, the top volumes 1-10 combined is actually 1 1/2 inches longer than Volumes 11 - 20 combined, so you need to be prepared for asymmetry. I stuck the Shorter Oxford at the end at Volume 20 when I stacked the Oxford vertically on two planks on the same shelving unit, and it looked good. I also ran another 20 volumes contiguously over two adjacent shelving units horizontally and that worked as well. The one that was actually most used was the one where I did not care where I stuck the volumes. It kind of looked "creative" in arrangement.
Whether you buy this set depends on simple addition, which cannot be dignified by calling it mathematics. Add the cost of the hard copy 20 volumes and the software together. If there is a saving, get it (as I did, when the price made sense). If not, getting a cheaper 2002 USA re-print Intelligent Entertainment (Amazon Fulfilment), while stocks last, at 799.99; then wait for the Made in Unspecified Country software to drop in price. I was unaware of this viable option at the time of my purchase. Intelligent Entertainment also offers the 20 Volume/CD set for only $999.99. This situation evokes Torschlusspanik.