The Demise of the Oxford English Dictionary?

Posted on September 4, 2010


The Oxford English Dictionary is the definitive arbiter of the English language and thus an important reference tool. It was announced this week that the printed version has been discontinued and it will only appear in future in the online version.

Compiling the Oxford English Dictionary is a massive undertaking as the third edition has been in progress for the last 20 years and is still unfinished. Its publisher, Oxford University Press states that the increased popularity of electronic resources and reference websites are responsible for the fall in demand for the printed version. Admittedly a price tag of £750 for the twenty volume work is also beyond most pockets. The online version is popular because of the ability to keep it up to date with the latest words. The current second edition, published in 1989 does not include “google,” “hoodie,” or even any of the popular words of the Eighties, such as “sloane” or “yuppie.” The authoritative reason for this is that a word must stand the test of time and come into general use before it is included.

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