OED editions


The OED has gone through a bewildering succession of stages since its original publication between 1884 and 1928. The most up-to-date version can only be seen online (radically reconfigured in a re-launched website in December 2010, and now in a process of Continuous change), but since many libraries still have print copies of the 1989 second edition on their shelves – and since you can still pick up pre-1989 versions of OED from second-hand sources – it is useful to know what edition or version was published when, and what each contains. Equally, when consulting OED Online, the user needs to be able to understand the nature and provenance of the information that appears on the screen. Most importantly, users need to be able to interpret the results turned up by its powerful search tools.

For a quick key to the various versions of the Dictionary and and their differing content, click on Which edition contains what?

Individual pages on OED1, OED2 and OED3 explain each of the three main editions of the Dictionary in more detail, linking as appropriate to information elsewhere on EOED, while the two interim supplements are described at First Supplement 1933 and Second Supplement (1972-86) respectively. The nature of the newly emerging version of today’s OED is sketched at OED Online, while to go straight to an account of the important changes made in 2010 to the current form of the OED, click on Re-launched OED Online. Additional pages under this section (in the links listed below) discuss recent features of the web-site, including case-studies of the treatment of particular words.

Last updated on 10 October 2019