- 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: 29 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: #230,847 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
Enter your mobile number or email address below and we'll send you a link to download the free Kindle App. Then you can start reading Kindle books on your smartphone, tablet, or computer - no Kindle device required.
To get the free app, enter your mobile phone number.
The Oxford English Dictionary (20 Volume Set) (Vols 1-20) 2nd Edition
Use the Amazon App to scan ISBNs and compare prices.
The Amazon Book Review
Author interviews, book reviews, editors picks, and more. Read it now
Customers who bought this item also bought
Customers who viewed this item also viewed
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
If you are a seller for this product, would you like to suggest updates through seller support?
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.