- Hardcover: 22000 pages
- Publisher: Clarendon Press; 2 edition (March 30, 1989)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0198611862
- ISBN-13: 978-0198611868
- Product Dimensions: 16 x 20 x 18 inches
- Shipping Weight: 26.8 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
- 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: #1,006,673 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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The Oxford English Dictionary (20 Volume Set) (Vols 1-20) 2nd Edition
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The Oxford English Dictionary has long been considered the ultimate reference work in English lexicography. Compiled by the legendary editor James Murray and a staff of brilliant philologists and lexicographers (not to mention one homicidal maniac), the OED began as a a supplement to existing dictionaries, so that, as one lexicographer put it, "every word should be made to tell its own story." Enthusiastic readers sent Murray definitions and examples on identical slips of paper in response to a letter of appeal in 1879. By the time the last volume was published in 1928, the dictionary had swelled from 4 to 10 volumes containing over 400,000 entries. In the years since, the staff of the OED has continued to keep pace with our ever-evolving language, and today the dictionary weighs in at a whopping 20 volumes. The great joy of this dictionary lies in its extensive cross-references and word etymologies, which can run a full page or more. These features not only make the OED the most comprehensive and authoritative dictionary of the English language, but a delight to browse.
What writers like most about the Oxford English Dictionary
|"I’m tempted to say that I love the OED because it contains every word in Middlemarch and To the Lighthouse, minus the unnecessary ones. I suspect, however, that that’s probably a familiar joke in dictionary circles."--Michael Cunningham, author of The Hours|
|"The Oxford English Dictionary lets me follow the roots of words into the loamy depths of language. It lets me feel the abiding, generative life in it, the mysteries of its persistence and renewal."--Marilynne Robinson, Pulitzer Prize-winning author of Home|
|"The OED is one of my favorite ways of avoiding writing, which under other circumstances can be tortuous. But not with the OED. To begin, I look up a word. Then I get interested in its derivation, which suggests another word, another derivation, another word--Wow!"--Jeanne Marie Laskas, author of The Exact Same Moon|
Listen: the OED is priceless. The only disadvantage it's got is that the entries are so interesting and chocked with subsidiary info that sometimes what was originally supposed to be a quick one-word dash to the dictionary becomes a two-hour perusal of cross-references and ramifications and etymologies and the sorts of illustrative sentences that make your saliva flow with sheer interest. -- David Foster Wallace, novelist
Rummaging through the OED is as addicting as any narcotic. I ordered it originally to sell in my bookshop because I thought it would make a substantial statement about the quality of my books. Within a couple of months, though, I decided I treasured it too much to sell and took it home to keep. -- Thomas Brennan, owner, The Book Review, Atlanta, GA.
"Being the most expansive and exhaustive not to mention the most fun of all English dictionaries, its the finest testament I know to everything I love (and, all right, occasionally hate) about words."--Michael Cunningham (celebrated author of The Hours)
"Word lovers, the gods are smiling upon you. It no longer takes a small mortgage, or at least a trip to the library, to plumb the Oxford English Dictionary--the big one, not the abridged training-wheels versions. For its 75th anniversary since the last volume of the First Edition was published, Oxford University Press has knocked down the prices big time."--Chicago Sun-Times
"With its exhaustive definitions and precise etymology, the Oxford English Dictionary is absolutely indispensable to our work here at Jeopardy!"--Gary Johnson, Jeopardy! Supervising Producer/Writer
"The richest people in the world are those who have the OED on their shelves. Here is the greatest treasure of words waiting to be assembled into fiery tracts and rants, literary novels, histories, sagas, comic poems, exposes, polemics, tall tales and learned treatises, kids' books, advert copy, reports on busted dams and declarations, all the expressions of a hundred different cultures. And the sturdy boxes in which the dictionary comes are each the perfect size for a manuscript. So there it is, all the raw material a writer needs for a lifetime of work."--Annie Proulx
"Since my Milton teacher sent me to the OED at the start of my college career, that vast and virtuous monument has been an almost daily companion. It's far the most important of my reference aids; and of all things for a dictionary, it's proved likewise a steady source of surprise and delight."--Reynolds Price
"When I first got the OED I read it through from A to Z. I wondered which word had the greatest coverage, and in Volume VIII (Q-Sh), I found it: 'set.' More than a hundred and twenty meanings were given for the verb 'set' used alone; another thirty or so when used in conjunction with various prepositions and adverbs (set aside, set about, set apart, etc.). I got the feeling that this little three-letter word might be the most useful and versatile in the entire English language."--Oliver Sacks
"The OED has been to me a teacher, a companion, a source of endless discovery. I could not have become a writer without it. "--Anthony Burgess
"No similar work, not even the great Lexicon of the brothers Grimm, is comparable to [the OED] in magnitude, accuracy, or completeness. It is one of the monuments to the patient persistence of scholarship and one of the most sterling illustrations of that strange piety which only scholars can understand."--The Nation
"No one who reads or writes seriously can be without the OED."--The Washington Post
"In all probability, the greatest continuing work of scholarship that this century has produced."--Newsweek
"It is a remarkable work of scholarship, and must rank high among the wonders of the world of learning."--The Times Educational Supplement
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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.
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. Fortunately, the book is so heavy and well made that the pages appear to have been rescued by gravity and a night on its side, but I'm nonetheless displeased as the guide still looks like it's accompanied me on a long train journey, stuffed into a trouser pocket and slept upon in the mid-day sun.
I've seldom been more pleased with a book purchase though. I just wish Amazon had treated it a little better but: Pay money, get choice.
UPDATE: The photo is now accurate - here's what I had to say about it originally: Ah. Yes. The photos on the product page. Now, I should have done my research and perhaps realised that OUP no longer produce the two-volume edition and I was going to get a single volume. The photos here at Amazon showing two volumes with a drawer for the magnifying glass (to be honest, the bit I actually liked aged twelve) are out-of-date. This is a single volume edition with a loose magnifying glass that must find its own place to rest.