October 18, 2001 10:30 PM   Subscribe

Uber-dictionary! If you're a student and get your access through a university, there's a fairly good chance the university subscribes to the Oxford English Dictionary online. Which means you get the OED too! regardless, it's 100x the dictionary m-w is.
posted by clockwork (23 comments total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
wow, that's amazing. wonderful little nuggets of info i would have never known about otherwise are what makes this place great.

i salute you
posted by dcgartn at 10:43 PM on October 18, 2001

Um, so all I'm seeing is their entry page and information on how to subscribe to the OED online. How is this useful, at least for the many of us who aren't in a university that subscribes to OED?
posted by hincandenza at 10:46 PM on October 18, 2001

ah, you see, it provides motivation for you to go back to school. learning should be a life-long journey.

onward ho, friend!
posted by dcgartn at 10:52 PM on October 18, 2001

oed is nice. but hardly worth studying.
posted by wantwit at 11:18 PM on October 18, 2001

It's no OED, but dictionary.com gives definitions from a number of good dictionaries (including the American Heritage Dictionary, my personal favorite), and is freely accessible for anyone.
posted by moss at 11:49 PM on October 18, 2001

$550 to access this thing for a year.
A copy of the compact printing is significantly less than that, even at full price.

So it won't constantly be up to date. The OED is interesting more for the historical entries than for new stuff.

Oh, and does anyone know if the U of Virginia on-line edition is supposed to be public access? All the links give me Forbidden errors, but there's no mention of limited access on the page. It would be an obvious alternative. Another here, here, here, and so on. Why would I pay?
posted by Su at 12:34 AM on October 19, 2001

It also doesn't work for the many college students living off-campus (like me).
posted by ktheory at 1:33 AM on October 19, 2001

yourdictionary is my favourite online word resource ... it has links to just about every type and language of dictionary you could need.
posted by walrus at 3:17 AM on October 19, 2001

Note: The following refers to the 20 volume, hard bound edition of the OED:

Description Each Total
OXFORD ENG DICT 2/E-20V $340.29 $340.29
Item(s) Subtotal: $ 340.29
Shipping & Handling: $ 3.95
Sales Tax (AL residents only): $ 0.00
TOTAL DUE: $ 344.24

Thank you Booksamillion for price matching the 20 volume version against the photo-reduced version. I eventually bought two, one as a wedding present for a friend.

When they wised up, their price on it initially jumped to $3,000.00. I don't know what they started charging for shipping. :-)
posted by NortonDC at 4:28 AM on October 19, 2001

That's what I call a bargain!!
posted by Jubey at 5:35 AM on October 19, 2001

I use the OED quite a lot - Cambridge University students are identified by their IP address and so can get in easily. As said above, much more detail and much quicker than m-w or, god forbid, dictionary.com. It's also great for looking up obscure technical terms; I've been able to find a whole load of info on specialised biological terms.
posted by adrianhon at 5:48 AM on October 19, 2001

I picked up the compact edition recently at a garage sale...$5. Even had the little magnifying glass. I'm still dancing.
posted by rushmc at 6:06 AM on October 19, 2001

that rocks, rushmc. but who are these people who are done with their dictionary? "...zymometer, zymosis, zymuirgy and i'm spent! learned all these words, no use for that waste-of-space book anymore!"
posted by palegirl at 6:29 AM on October 19, 2001

The OED's more useful if you want highly specific definitions of technical terms, or if you want to trace the historical nuances of a word: for instance, its citations for "network" are pretty useful when determining when the abstract notion of a social network emerged.

(If you're outside a campus network, but have a university shell account that allows SSH forwarding, you can always set up a tunnelling connection that gives you access to the subscribed services by proxy.)

What's cool about the OED is that while they're not as "up to date" when it comes to new words, every entry they finish goes online immediately, and, if possible, into the proofs of the print edition. When you order the 20-volume set, it'll usually be printed to order. Unless you are NortonDC, of course ;)
posted by holgate at 6:34 AM on October 19, 2001

it's 100x the dictionary m-w is.

I dunno. It's a different kind of dictionary. Webster's Third is The Other Great Dictionary.
posted by rodii at 7:22 AM on October 19, 2001

For serious OED freaks:

name the ONLY entry containing a citation by James Murray-original editor and guiding genius of the OED.
posted by quercus at 7:38 AM on October 19, 2001

As a freelancer for Oxford University Press, (see my work in the upcoming New Oxford American Dictionary), I'm naturally biased, but in terms of impact on the English language, I'd put the Oxford English Dictionary as most influential right after the King James Bible and the Collected Works of Shakespeare. It is an astonishing work. The citations and the extensive etymologies are what keep me going back to it, though having free access through both my work and school might be part of it, too.

Regarding off-campus access, of the links above only the U. of Waterloo link seems to allow searches. It, and others like it, are from the Second Edition CD-ROM set, that, while they allow for more interesting search results if you actually have the CDs in hand and can do the high-level queries, do not return results that include work for the upcoming Third Edition. That material is included on the web site version of the OED. It's gold.

If you're looking for a more affordable, good, dictionary, I'd recommend either the New Oxford American Dictionary mentioned above, or the latest Merriam-Webster.

If you have an interest in dictionaries, check out the Dictionary Society of North America.
posted by Mo Nickels at 7:40 AM on October 19, 2001

Webster's Third is The Other Great Dictionary.

Tcha. It doesn't even get all the spellings right.
posted by holgate at 7:44 AM on October 19, 2001

I put the Oxford English Dictionary as most influential right after the King James Bible and the Collected Works of Shakespeare.

There have been a few interesting pieces written on the historical significance of the OED; if both Johnson's and Webster's Dictionaries had something to do with asserting a certain national identity around the common language, then the OED certainly forms part of a set of great "imperial" cultural projects, alongside works such as the DNB. Certainly, you can see the struggle to get those last letters finished off in the context of that desire of Rhodes to turn the world's maps red with Empire, or at least drive that train from Alexandria to Cape Town over British colonial soil.
posted by holgate at 8:01 AM on October 19, 2001

quercus--A citation of James Murray's writing or a citation by James Murray?

It appears that the only citation of James Murray's writing is found in the entry for "clerk," assuming "J. F. Murray" is good ole James.

You folks know about the movie, right?
The Irish based director John Boorman (The General and The Tailor of Panama) has been hired by Mel Gibson to bring journalist Simon Winchester's best-seller The Professor and the Madman to the screen. Boorman is working on an rewrite of the script, which centres on the compilation of the Oxford English Dictionary.

Gibson, whose production company has bought the film rights, has yet to decide whether he will also star in the story. It depicts the friendship between Professor James Murray and William Chester Minor, a murderer who helped Murray write the dictionary while an inmate at the Broadmoor Asylum for the Criminally Insane.
From AICN.
posted by NortonDC at 8:09 AM on October 19, 2001

A citation of James Murray's writing-the Murray cited in "clerk" is not THE Mr. Murray-James Augusus Henry Murray.
However, I am shocked to discover my hard won knowledge is wrong.
The word I knew from the old days is "anamorphose."
I had never electronically searched the OED before this morning, and it appears J.A.H. Murray is all over the place-obviously this was harder to determine prior to the searchable database. Fascinating.
posted by quercus at 8:28 AM on October 19, 2001

I just finished reading The Professor and the Madman and thought it was a great, quick read. About halfway through the book, I started thinking about a movie version and who would play in it. I sort of saw Matthew Broderick as W.C. Minor and Alan Rickman as Prof. Murray. Glad to hear that a movie is already in the works.
posted by inviolable at 10:36 AM on October 19, 2001

ktheory: all you need is to set up your dsl or cable or whatnot to work through your university's proxy. not hard.
posted by wantwit at 8:37 PM on October 21, 2001

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