The Oxford dictionary is called the definitive record of the English language. It is one of the most well-respected English language dictionaries in the world.
The Oxford dictionary has been around for over 100 years. It began in London in 1857. The Philological society determined that current English-language dictionaries weren’t complete. They decided to completely re-examine the language. Little did they know the size of the project they had just undertaken.
The development of the Oxford dictionary had taken a big step in 1879 when the society made an agreement with the Oxford University press to begin work on a new dictionary of the English language. At that time it was known as being New English Dictionary. It was planned to be four volumes, 6400 pages. The idea was to include all English vocabulary from 1150A.D onward. They thought it would take 10 years to complete.
Five years into the creation of this early version of the Oxford dictionary they had only reached the word ant. It was time to adjust the schedule. Part of the reason that it was taking so long was that the English language constantly evolves. They had to keep track of new words as well as the new meanings of old words. All this had to be done when they continued to look at words from the previous seven centuries.
The Oxford dictionary continued to develop over the next four decades. Many new editors joined the project. The dictionary had expanded from the original concept of four volumes to 10 volumes. It encompassed over 400,000 words. It quickly became the ultimate authority on the English language. 40 years later the initial mission was accomplished.
As soon as this first version of the Oxford dictionary was finished work began on a new version. In 1933 a supplement was published in the dictionary had expanded to 12 volumes. This remained until 1957. A new supplement was finally finished and published from 1972 through 1986 in four volumes.
In 1982 the task of bringing the Oxford dictionary into the modern world began. The editors began transferring it from paper to electronic format. The cost of this project is $13.5 million. It took five years to complete. The result of this electronic transfer was a second edition published in 1989. This printed version is 20 volumes containing a total of 22,000 pages.
The Oxford dictionary later was published on CD-ROM, and is now available online. What an interesting journey from concept to the present.