The Oxford English Dictionary is the most comprehensive dictionary of
the English language. It traces the development of English from
approximately 1150 AD up to the present day. The varieties of English
covered include British English, American English, Australian English,
New Zealand English, the Englishes of the Indian subcontinent, Southern
Africa, and the Caribbean, among others.
The Oxford English Dictionary is not an arbiter of proper usage,
despite its widespread reputation to the contrary. The Dictionary is
intended to be descriptive, not prescriptive. In other words, its
content should be viewed as an objective reflection of English language
usage, not a subjective collection of usage ‘dos’ and ‘don'ts’.
However, it does include information on which usages are, or have been,
popularly regarded as ‘incorrect’. The Dictionary aims to cover the
full spectrum of English language usage, from formal to slang, as it has
evolved over time.
The new version of the OED Online
(launched 12-1-2010) contains the following
updates (the words below are taken directly from the
Chief Editor John Simpson):
We've tried to tilt the site more towards the English
language than towards the dictionary as an end in
itself. Search results move from simple lists to
visualizations/timelines. They can also be filtered
according to a number of categories, allowing you to
start off with big numbers (e.g. all English words
derived from Italian), and reduce them by steps down to
small, significant subsets (e.g. all English words
derived from Italian from the field of Music which are
first recorded in English in the 18th century). That's
167 words, starting with adagio.
Other new features include pages (updated each quarter
from the dictionary data) on the OED's
most-cited authors and texts, plus links to other online
resources—such as the Oxford
Dictionary of National Biography—offering more on
those who've shaped the language. There's also an
‘Aspects of English’ section, a series of descriptive
articles on language, past and present.
Perhaps the most important new feature involves the Historical
Thesaurus to the OED, published in book form in
2009. The entire text is now integrated with the OED
Online, so that you can follow semantic links
throughout the dictionary.
The OED Online can be accessed from on campus, or off campus with an