Unrivalled breadth and depth
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Unrivalled breadth and depth. The biggest dictionary of any language in the world in print, on CD-Rom and online! Over 600,000 definitions Over 2.5 million quotation examples to show words in context Explores the evolution of English over the last 1500 years

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Unrivalled breadth and depth

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Unrivalled breadth and depth

  • The biggest dictionary of any language in the world in print, on CD-Rom and online!

  • Over 600,000 definitions

  • Over 2.5 million quotation examples to show words in context

  • Explores the evolution of English over the last 1500 years

  • Covers words and phrases from across the English-speaking world

An enormous project

  • The updating of the OED is the world’s largest humanities research project

    • Editorial work alone costs OUP £3 million per year!

    • 80 in-house lexicographers, researchers and systems engineers working on the project

    • 200 specialist advisers

    • Numerous external contributors

  • At least 6000 new and revised definitions published online each year

Welcome to the Oxford English Dictionary homepage!

Click on Customer Service tab to find out how

Did you know that you can load the

“Search OED” icon to your toolbar?

Then you can highlight a word on any web

site and OED will open up at the definition!

Simply click here

Right-click on this link and

follow the instructions below

…and click on the link!

Highlight a word on any website…

Here’s your definition!

Any problems?

  • Make sure that your toolbar is unlocked – hold mouse over toolbar and right-click, then untick the ‘Lock toolbars’ option

  • Add the website to your trusted sites: select Tools, Internet Options, Security. Then click on ‘Sites’ and add http://www.oed.com. You may also need to untick the ‘require https in this zone’ box. Click OK twice to finalize.

    Now try again!

Now let’s start

exploring the dictionary!


Type here to do a Quick Search for a word

and press return or click on

Click on a result to go

to the definition – the abbreviations

referring to different part of speech

help you to select the most relevant entry

Take a look at adjacent entries in the dictionary.

This is your entry for nice.

By selecting the List by Date tab you can view

entries for other words appearing in English

at the same time as nice.

You can also choose to view a map guiding

you through the different senses of nice.

Click on a link on the left to view a later definition.

Within the entry for each word, the definitions are listed

in chronological order with the oldest appearing first.

Scroll through the entry to see how the

meaning of nice has changed over time.

You can customize your view of the dictionary

by selecting the relevant tabs at the top.

Each different meaning is also

illustrated by useful quotations…

…as well as a date chart, showing you

when each meaning of nice was in use.

This gives the version and publication date of the entry.

If you’re interested in the development of the OED itself,

take a look at the entry for nice in an earlier edition.

Scroll down to view the

current meaning of nice.

Quick Search

You can also use wildcards in Quick Search:

* represents any number of missing words

(or none)

? represents one missing letter

You can change the number

of results displayed per page.

A search for *phobia brings up

115 words ending with phobia

Unsure about spelling? A search

for r*yt*m will find the correct one!

Select Simple Search or Advanced Search

from the tab at the bottom

Simple Search

  • Simple Search allows you to select the area of your search term from a variety of options:

    • Full text, definitions, etymologies, language names

    • Quotations, Quotation date / author / work

    • First cited date / author / work

  • It also allows you to do Proximity Searches

Type in a search term, select an area from

the drop-down list and click on

Read though all 279 English

words that owe a debt to Urdu!

Or view all 3,706 quotations from

Shakespeare used to illustrate meanings!

Proximity searching

Click in More options to

search for one word or

phrase in association with another

Know the meaning but not the word?

This type of search helps you find

the definition of the fear of spiders.

Advanced Search

  • Use Boolean operators such as AND, OR, NEAR

  • Combine a search on three words, and specify the order in which they appear

  • Filter for specific parts of speech

  • Restrict your search to the results of previous searches

  • Search a specific edition of the OED

  • Search pronunciations and quotations

Let’s search for any words related to fashion, originating

from French, that entered English after 1750.

Let’s try a search for PRONUNCIATION,

which will allow you to search for rhymes!

First, you need to look up the phonetic symbol

for the rhyme you need. Go to HELP for this.

Select Advanced Searching

Go to Searching pronunciations

Click on this link

Select the edition of your choice

Here you find a list of the phonetic symbols

for all the sounds used in English, with

the corresponding keyboard equivalent.

Let’s search for words rhyming with

/eIt/, like fate, or great.

Scroll down to find the symbol

at the bottom of the list.

Now type the equivalent keyboard sign

into the search box and select pronunciation.

This search will find any words ending with this sound.

There are 2,289 results!

This search will only find

monosyllabic nouns

rhyming with fate.

65 results!

This link always

takes you back

to the homepage

View the result by entry name,

entry date or quotation date.

Through the OED Help, you can also

find a list of all the language names!

Select Key to symbols and other conventions

Scroll down to the bottom of the page

Select Collation of language names

Choose any letter to view

language names starting

with this letter

The OED help has a lot

more information on searching!

Now you’re

nearly fluent

in Nahuatl !

Don’t forget to take a look at the

Learning Resources, which contain

quizzes and exercises for schools!

Seeing something different on your screen?

Please note that if you try the searches shown

here for yourself, you might find different results due to the constant updating of the OED.

Widely acclaimed

  • “The ultimate authority on the English language as well as a history of English speech and thought from its infancy to the present day” The Times

  • “The greatest continuing work of scholarship that this century has produced” Newsweek

  • “An essential acquisition for all libraries” Library Journal

Further information

  • Full details about the OED and OED Online are available at www.oed.com

  • A detailed tour is available at www.oed.com/public/tour

  • If you have any queries, please don’t hesitate to contact us at [email protected]

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