What's the latest
The SOED has just published its Fifth Edition, a revision of the 1993 New Shorter OED. Some 3,500 new words, updated quotations, and a new layout. 'Shorter' in this case being a relative term, by the way: it's still two volumes thick.
What else does the OED do
Of particular interest to us here in cyberspace - don't forget the Oxford English Dictionary Online, first published in 2000, wherein readers can mount concerted attacks on the etymology of words via a hugely sophisticated search engine. (For example, which words of North American origin entering the English language in the 20th century rhyme with grass )
What else makes the Online version exciting
How about the ability to contribute to the ongoing revision of the Dictionary, including the hunt for new words, meaning and usage The editors actively solicit help from the general public: full details on the website.
And, as you might imagine, the online version is geared rather more readily to regular updates than the books: every three months as opposed to every 60 years! The OED Online is a subscription service, and a little out of the price range of the casual surfer, but for the dedicated word sleuth - it's indispensable.
What else has the Internet changed about the OED
Not surprisingly, new media and the technology surrounding it have contributed scores of new words to the Dictionary. However, the editors are keen to track down words and usage from all over the place - fashion, food, commerce, science, slang and entertainment are all sources of new words in the latest SOED.
What are some of the latest words to be included
|Blair: thrilled to make the OED|
A lengthy undertaking
Having been proposed by the Philological Society of London as long ago as 1857, and first worked on in earnest in 1879 (these Victorians had lots of other things to do, it seems, like grow their beards, build an Empire and invent football), the Dictionary emerged in instalments between 1884-1928. Originally conceived as a four-volume work of 6,400 pages, by the time it was published it was already on its fourth editor, weighing in at ten volumes and a staggering 15,490 pages - and sixty years overdue! (Lucky it wasn't a library book...)
A work in progress
Work on the OED has never stopped. There have been updates, revisions and fresh instalments ever since. The Second Edition (1989) had grown to 20 volumes, 21,730 pages, 291,500 entries and no fewer than 59 million words of text.
Any more facts and figures
The longest entry in the Oxford English Dictionary covers the verb set: it takes approximately 60,000 words and over 430 senses to define this three letter word.
The most frequently quoted work is the Bible, while Shakespeare is quoted some 33,300 times. (Prove that the works of Shakespeare are riddled with cliches!)