|1888||A||A New ED||Vol. 1|
|1933||& sup.||Oxford ED||13 vols.|
|1972||A||OED Sup.||Vol. 1|
|1976||H||OED Sup.||Vol. 2|
|1982||O||OED Sup.||Vol. 3|
|1986||Sea||OED Sup.||Vol. 4|
|1989||all||OED 2nd Ed.||20 vols.|
|1993||all||OED Add. Ser.||Vols. 1–2|
|1997||all||OED Add. Ser.||Vol. 3|
The Oxford English Dictionary (OED), published by the Oxford University Press, is a dictionary of the English language. Two fully-bound print editions of the OED have been published under its current name, in 1928 and 1989. The first edition was published in twelve volumes (plus later supplements), and the second edition in twenty volumes. , the editors had completed the third edition from M to rotness. With approximately 600,000 words, the Oxford English Dictionary is the longest official dictionary; as stated by The Guinness Book of World Records.
According to the publishers, it would take a single person 120 years to 'key in' text to convert it to machine readable form which consists a total of 59 million words of the OED second edition, 60 years to proofread it, and 540 megabytes to store it electronically. As of 30 November 2005, the Oxford English Dictionary contained approximately 301,100 main entries. Supplementing the entry headwords, there are 157,000 bold-type combinations and derivatives; 169,000 italicized-bold phrases and combinations; 616,500 word-forms in total, including 137,000 pronunciations; 249,300 etymologies; 577,000 cross-references; and 2,412,400 usage quotations. The dictionary's latest, complete print edition (Second Edition, 1989) was printed in 20 volumes, comprising 291,500 entries in 21,730 pages. The longest entry in the OED2 was for the verb set, which required 60,000 words to describe some 430 senses. As entries began to be revised for the OED3 in sequence starting from M, the longest entry became make in 2000, then put in 2007.
Despite its impressive size, the OED is neither the world's largest nor earliest dictionary. The Dutch dictionary Woordenboek der Nederlandsche Taal, which has similar aims to the OED, is the largest and it took twice as long to complete. Another earlier large dictionary is the Grimm brothers' dictionary of the German language, begun in 1838 and completed in 1961. The first edition of the Vocabolario degli Accademici della Crusca, which is the first great dictionary devoted to a modern European language (Italian), was published in 1612; the first edition of Dictionnaire de l'Académie française dates from 1694. The first edition of the official dictionary of Spanish, the Diccionario de la lengua española (produced, edited, and published by the Real Academia Española) was published in 1780. The Kangxi dictionary of Chinese was published even earlier, in 1716.
The OEDs official policy is to attempt to record a word's most-known usages and variants in all varieties of English past and present, worldwide. Per the 1933 "Preface":
The aim of this Dictionary is to present in alphabetical series the words that have formed the English vocabulary from the time of the earliest records [ca. AD740] down to the present day, with all the relevant facts concerning their form, sense-history, pronunciation, and etymology. It embraces not only the standard language of literature and conversation, whether current at the moment, or obsolete, or archaic, but also the main technical vocabulary, and a large measure of dialectal usage and slang.
Hence we exclude all words that had become obsolete by 1150 [the end of the Old English era] ... Dialectal words and forms which occur since 1500 are not admitted, except when they continue the history of the word or sense once in general use, illustrate the history of a word, or have themselves a certain literary currency.
The OED is the focus of much scholarly work about English words. Its headword variant spellings order list influences written English in English-speaking countries.
At first, the dictionary was unconnected to Oxford University but was the idea of a small group of intellectuals in London; it originally was a Philological Society project conceived in London by Richard Chenevix Trench, Herbert Coleridge, and Frederick Furnivall, who were dissatisfied with the current English dictionaries. In June 1857, they formed an "Unregistered Words Committee" to search for unlisted and undefined words lacking in current dictionaries. In November, Trench's report was not a list of unregistered words; instead, it was the study On Some Deficiencies in our English Dictionaries, which identified seven distinct shortcomings in contemporary dictionaries:
The Philological Society, however, ultimately realized that the number of unlisted words would be far more than the number of words in the English dictionaries of the 19th century. The Society eventually shifted their idea from only words that were not already in English dictionaries to a more comprehensive project. Trench suggested that a new, truly comprehensive dictionary was needed. On 7 January 1858, the Society formally adopted the idea of a comprehensive new dictionary. Volunteer readers would be assigned particular books, copying passages illustrating word usage onto quotation slips. In 1858, the Society agreed to the project in principle, with the title "A New English Dictionary on Historical Principles" (NED).
Richard Chenevix Trench played the key role in the project's first months, but his ecclesiastical career meant that he could not give the dictionary project the time required; he withdrew, and Herbert Coleridge became the first editor.
On 12 May 1860, Coleridge's dictionary plan was published, and research started. His house was the first editorial office. He arrayed 100,000 quotation slips in a 54-pigeon-hole grid. In April 1861, the group published the first sample pages; later that month, the thirty-one-year old Coleridge died of tuberculosis.
Furnivall then became editor; he was enthusiastic and knowledgeable, yet temperamentally ill-suited for the work. Many volunteer readers eventually lost interest in the project as Furnivall failed to keep them motivated. Furthermore, many of the slips had been misplaced.
Recruited assistants handled two tons of quotation slips and other materials. Furnivall understood the need for an efficient excerpting system, and instituted several prefatory projects. In 1864, he founded the Early English Text Society, and in 1868, he founded the Chaucer Society for preparing general benefit editions of immediate value to the dictionary project. The compilation lasted 21 years.
In the 1870s, Furnivall unsuccessfully attempted to recruit both Henry Sweet and Henry Nicol to succeed him. He then approached James Murray, who accepted the post of editor. In the late 1870s, Furnivall and Murray met with several publishers about publishing the dictionary. In 1878, Oxford University Press agreed with Murray to proceed with the massive project; the agreement was formalized the following year. The dictionary project finally had a publisher 20 years after the idea was conceived. It would be another 50 years before the entire dictionary was complete.
Despite the participation of some 800 volunteer readers, the technology of paper-and-ink was the major drawback regarding the arbitrary choices of relatively untrained volunteers about "what to read and select" and "what to discard."[cite this quote][clarification needed]
Late in his editorship Murray learned that one prolific reader W. C. Minor was a criminal lunatic. Minor, a Yale University trained surgeon and military officer in the U.S. Civil War, was confined to Broadmoor Asylum for the Criminally Insane after killing a man in London. The story of Minor and Murray is told in Simon Winchester's The Professor and the Madman: A Tale of Murder, Insanity, and the Making of the Oxford English Dictionary (U.S. title – elsewhere The Surgeon of Crowthorne: a tale of murder, madness and the love of words). Minor invented his own quotation-tracking system allowing him to submit slips on specific words in response to editors' requests.