Dictionary milestones in reverse order

A chronology of events relevant to the history of the OED

Dictionary milestones in chronological order

2015   The OED currently defines more than 623,000 lexical items, with around 836,000 separate senses, illustrated by over 3.4 million quotations drawn from over 1,000 years of the written history of English. Over a third of the dictionary has been revised, and OED3 entries from M–Ryvita are now online, with more from across the alphabet appearing each quarter.

2013   John Simpson retires, and Michael Proffitt is appointed Chief Editor.

2009   A Historical Thesaurus of the OED appears, providing a systematic inventory of 800,000 senses from the OED and other sources.

2008   The first batch of revised entries from outside the alphabetic sequence is published online.

2001   New words from outside the alphabetic revision sequence begin to be published in OED Online.

2000   OED Online is launched. It includes the first batch of revised entries from OED3, M–mahurat.

1997   Work begins on an online version of the OED. The third and final volume of Additions appears.

1993   John Simpson is appointed Chief Editor, and work begins on the first wholesale revision of the Dictionary—the Third Edition, or OED3. The first two volumes of Additions are published.

1992   OED2 becomes available on CD-ROM.

1989   The second edition of the Oxford English Dictionary (OED2) appears in print as 20 volumes containing 21,728 pages and costing £1,500. It defines over half a million words (including 5,000 added since the Supplement), and is illustrated by more than 2.4 million quotations.

1987   The OED appears in electronic form (on a double CD-ROM) for the first time

1986   The fourth and final volume of the Supplement appears. John Simpson, who has been working on the Supplement, joins Weiner as co-editor of the New OED.

1984   Work begins on a New Oxford English Dictionary, with Edmund Weiner as editor.

1972   The first volume of the new Supplement appears, complete with the two strongest ‘four-letter words’, which had been omitted from the First Edition and Supplement.

1957   R. W. Burchfield is appointed as editor of a new Supplement to the OED.

1933   A reprint—with a one-volume Supplement—is issued as the Oxford English Dictionary (OED).

1928   On 19 April the last fascicle of the NED is published. The completed dictionary is made up of 12 volumes and contains 15,487 pages, defining 414,825 words.

1923   Henry Bradley dies, leaving Craigie and Onions to complete the project.

1919   J. R. R. Tolkien joins the NED for a little over a year, working on words beginning with W.

1915   James Murray dies, and Henry Bradley becomes the senior editor at work on the dictionary.

1914   C. T. Onions joins the project as the fourth editor.

1901   W. A. Craigie joins Murray and Bradley as a third editor.

1887   Henry Bradley appointed as an independent second editor.

1885   James Murray moves to Oxford in June to work on the Dictionary full-time.

1884   The first part or fascicle of the NED, covering A–Ant, is published.

1879   Oxford University Press agrees to publish and finance the project, and James Murray, president of the Philological Society, is appointed editor. Murray issues An Appeal to the…English-Reading Public to read Books and make Extracts for the…New English Dictionary.

1861   Coleridge dies, and Furnivall is appointed as editor in his place.

1859   The Society produces its Proposal for the Publication of a New English Dictionary (usually abbreviated as NED). Herbert Coleridge is appointed as its first editor. An appeal is made for American scholars to help the project by ‘reading books and noting words’ for inclusion.

1858   The Society resolves to begin preparing a new dictionary of English.

1857   At the suggestion of Frederick J. Furnivall, the Philological Society of London establishes ‘a Committee to collect unregistered words in English’. Richard Chenevix Trench delivers a paper On some Deficiencies in our English Dictionaries to the Society.