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Home arrow Archived pages arrow Which edition contains what? (old version)
Which edition contains what? (old version)
NOTE: the material in this section of the site is now out of date following the re-launch of OED Online in December 2010. 

The Oxford English Dictionary (OED) was first published as the New English Dictionary in separate instalments (fascicles) between 1884 and 1928. It was reissued in 1933, together with a Supplement compiled by W. A. Craigie and C. T. Onions, in a multi-volume edition entitled:
'The Oxford English Dictionary, being a corrected re-issue with an Introduction, Supplement, and Bibliography of A New English Dictionary on Historical Principles, founded mainly on the materials collected by The Philological Society, and edited by James A. H. Murray, Henry Bradley, W. A. Craigie, C. T. Onions, Oxford, at the Clarendon Press, 1933.'
In 1971 this edition was issued in a two-volume photographically reduced format.

The Supplement to the OED, edited by R. W. Burchfield, was published in 4 volumes between 1972 and 1986. Strictly speaking this was the second twentieth-century supplement, since that of Craigie and Onions was the first. Burchfield's volumes incorporate most of Craigie and Onions' work and provide additional documentation of twentieth-century words. Almost all the evidence is for words or meanings recorded after 1880: only in a tiny proportion of instances did Burchfield make any changes or additions to material already printed in OED1. The Supplement was also issued in a one-volume photographically reduced format.

The SECOND EDITION of the OED, compiled by John Simpson and Edmund Weiner, was published in 20 volumes in 1989 (and also in a three-volume photographically reduced format). This merged the original OED (largely unchanged) with the 1972-86 Supplement, adding 5,000 new words and senses. This edition is now available online to individual and institutional subscribers at www.oed.com: though beware, the user neeeds to navigate a series of pages before s/he arrives there (i.e. athttp://ed2.oed.com/cgi/advsearchform?side=B-D, reached by clicking in the left hand side bar as instructed once one has found the Advanced search page on theOED website). The electronic version of OED2 is equipped with electronic search tools enabling sophisticated and productive analyses of the Dictionary in a number of different ways (date/content of quotations, word labelling, author searches, etc.). It has also been published on CD-ROM, in successive upgraded editions.

In 1993 and 1997 three volumes of Additions to the Dictionary were published, consisting of listings and definitions of new words. These are incorporated into the online version of OED2.

The THIRD EDITION of the OED, edited by John Simpson, is also available online to subscribers at www.oed.com. This is a massive new project, and the first complete revision of the OED ever to be undertaken. All the existing material is being thoroughly reviewed, and in most cases added to, corrected, and entirely recast. New words and senses are recorded on an ongoing basis. Online publication began in March 2000, and each quarter the lexicographers release a batch of new and revised entries, having started at the letter M. The most recent addition (December 2009) covers the alphabet range refund-reputeless. A number of entries across the alphabet have also been added or updated; a summary table can be found on theOED Online website at Quarterly updates.

Most regrettably, in EOED's view, OED3 is merged with OED2, rather than being presented independently. This feature of the site often baffles users, since it is very easy to assume that what one is reading is an up-to-date entry when in fact it derives from OED1 (1884-1928) or Burchfield's Supplement (1972-86) - for details see OED editions
This means that it has now become very difficult to search OED3 on its own, so as to examine, on any large scale, what the revisers are doing with OED2 as they revise it, e.g. adding more 18th-century quotations, adding or removing quotations from groups of authors.
Click here to read a review of OED3, partially excerpted from Brewer 2004. A more up-to-date account can be read in Brewer 2007b, while information from the lexicographers themselves can be found in the various articles by John Simpson and by Edmund Weiner listed in the appropriate section of our bibliography (gohere).
Last Updated ( Monday, 17 October 2011 )
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