600,000 words … 3.5 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 Dictionaries of current English, in which the focus is on present-day meanings. You’ll still find present-day meanings 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.

OED graphic

Whether by sudden invention or unhurried evolution, words come into the English language in all manner of ways. The Oxford English Dictionary’s mission is to record all of these word stories, capturing their development as they continue to unfold.

Our interactive journey on how OMG made it into the OED explains all.

The OED Turns 90

This year marks the 90th birthday of the OED; that is, 90 years since the completion of the first edition of the dictionary. Celebrate with us and learn more about the past, present, and future of one of the largest dictionaries in the world.

  • Personal Subscriptions: During our 90th anniversary, we were pleased to offer annual individual OED subscriptions at a reduced rate of £90 (usually £215) or $90 (usually $295). Due to popular demand, we have extended this offer until July 31st 2019.
  • Recorded session: As part of the celebrations of the Oxford English Dictionary’s 90th birthday, we had a live session about how crowdsourcing can be used to build dictionaries.


The OED today

  • What’s new: every three months updates revise existing entries and add new words
  • 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

The OED and Oxford Dictionaries