About

600,000 words … 3 million quotations … over 1000 years of English

The Oxford English Dictionary (OED) is widely regarded as the accepted authority on the English language. It is an unsurpassed guide to the meaning, history, and pronunciation of 600,000 words— past and present—from across the English-speaking world.

As a historical dictionary, the OED is very different from those of current English, in which the focus is on present-day meanings. You’ll still find these in the OED, but you’ll also find the history of individual words, and of the language—traced through 3 million quotations, from classic literature and specialist periodicals to film scripts and cookery books.

The OED started life more than 150 years ago. Today, the dictionary is in the process of its first major revision. Updates revise and extend the OED at regular intervals, each time subtly adjusting our image of the English language.

The OED today

  • What’s new: every three months updates revise existing entries and add new words
  • Free OED: even if you don’t have subscriber access, the OED Online has a great deal to offer
  • The OED today: discover the 21st century OED and find out more about the revision programme, how to read an entry, and how to use the online OED
  • Aspects of English: informative and entertaining commentaries on the English language, written by dictionary editors and specialist authors
  • Historical Thesaurus of the OED: now fully incorporated into OED Online, the Historical Thesaurus of the OED arranges the dictionary by meaning. Trace the changing language of the material world, the mind, and society, from the Anglo-Saxon period to the modern day
  • Video shorts: a series of videos now live examines how the OED is produced behind the scenes

OED resource centres

History of the OED

The OED in print and on CD-ROM

The OED and Oxford Dictionaries