Finding the #Write #Words? No. 25: Shorter Oxford English Dictionary.

Continuing the description of books on words and language listed in the introductory post, which you’ll find here.

Book 25: Shorter Oxford English Dictionary (2 Volumes):

Hardback, 3,743 pages, plus the preface, an eighteen age article ‘A brief history of English’, a twelve page ‘Guide to the use of the dictionary’, two pages of ‘Abbreviations’, a one page ‘Pronunciation guide’, two pages devoted to ‘Features of dictionary entries’ and a single page ‘Transliteration guide’. This is a set of two equal sized volumes presented in a stout card case, and both bearing a couple of long blue ribbons to mark pages selected by the user. First published in 1933 by Oxford University Press. Mine is the 2007 6th edition. I bought it new in 2007, and got to it only seconds before another keen wordsmith, as it was in a sale in W.H. Smiths at the bargain price of £35.00; the normal purchase price being £60.00 at the time. You can obtain a copy of the same edition (current), new, for £71.58 (list price £105.00). I would’ve loved the full Oxford English Dictionary. The latest edition of that is the 2nd edition, in 20 volumes, published in 1989, and currently available at the bargain price of £862.50; a snip!

Opened randomly at pages 810/811, we start with:

elegiast /(pronunciation guide; I can’t copy here as it’s in a mixture of symbols)/ noun. rare. M18 [ORIGIN from ELEGY after ecclesiast] Awriter of elegies.’

And carry on to the bottom of page 811, where we find:

elfish /(pronunciation)/ adjective. M16. [ORIGIN from ELF noun₁ + -ISH₁.] Elvish. Formerly also (of a thing), unmanageable. G. Greene “A little Robin Goodfellow of a man, full of elfish tricks.”’

This is a pretty comprehensive dictionary of the English Language and my ‘go-to’ source when I’m in need of a definition of a word. It’s served me well ever since I bought it.

English is a complex language, made up of words from many countries, and borrows rules of grammar, punctuation and even style from the originating lands, which can make it interestingly familiar to learners but also frequently frustratingly baffling to the same students.

Those learning the English Language will find help on pronunciation here. And you’ll find a friendly group on Facebook through this link.

And, for those with an interest in English and considering their future, here’s a link that suggests the many possible career opportunities open to those with a degree in English. It’s also a link to an online university, and therefore an advert for their services. I know nothing of the institution, but the list of possible career choices might be useful.

Earlier posts in the series can be found by clicking on the titles below.

2. A Dictionary of Misunderstood Misused Mispronounced Words.
3. A Dictionary of Slang and Unconventional English.
4. A Miscellany for Word Lovers.
6. A Dictionary of Rhyming Slang.
7. Brit-think, American-think.
8. Bryson’s Dictionary for Writers and Editors.
9. Collins English Dictionary.
10. Current English Usage.
11. Descriptionary; a Thematic Dictionary.
12. Divided by a Common Language.
13. Eats Shoots & Leaves.
14. English Prepositional Idioms.
15. Fowler’s Modern English Usage.
16. Hart’s Rules for Compositors and Readers.
17. Hartrampf’s Vocabulary Builder.
18. i before e (except after c).
19. Longman Companion to English Literature.
20. New Hart’s Rules.
21. New Nuttall Dictionary of English Synonyms and Antonyms.
22. Oxford Compact Thesaurus.
23. Oxford Dictionary of Current Idiomatic English.
24. Roget’s Thesaurus.

6 thoughts on “Finding the #Write #Words? No. 25: Shorter Oxford English Dictionary.

    1. Certainly can, Tom. Item 16 is an older edition, published in 1984 and with 182 pages. Item 20 is the newest edition, published 2014, with 464 pages, and a great deal of up-to-date information, and subtitled ‘The Oxford Style Guide. It’s a veritable compendium of information and guidance for writers of all types.


        1. Thanks, Tom. We’re doing fine, thanks. Kate in Oz is hoping all this stops in time for her to have the wedding planned for September. Fingers crossed! Hope you’re okay, too.


          1. My wife Rosaria and I are doing well. Going a little stir crazy looking at the same four walls during our self-imposed isolation. This our third week. The head political-type of this province came out yesterday with some pretty grim news. When we watch the news these days there seem to be very few stories of a positive nature and we both find that pretty depressing.

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            1. Valerie is claustrophobic, so staying inside all the time isn’t an option if she’s to stay mentally healthy. If it come’s to being forced to remain in our home here, at least we have the back garden. I’m trying to provide a bit of positivity with a new series of posts featuring a photo taken on our daily walk in the forest. Hope they’ll help all those who are stuck inside.


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