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Reference Shelf
The Oxford U P Bookshelf:
English Language Dictionaries
Historical Language Dictionaries

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Selected as an Outstanding Reference Source by the Reference and Adult Services Division of the American Library Association
The New Shorter Oxford English Dictionary on Historical Principles
2 Volume Set: Thumb Indexed
3828 pp.; ISBN: 0-19-861271-0;  Price: $135.00 (02) cloth; Due 05/25/2001.

Oxford's classic dictionary, now in a completely revised edition

For the past sixty-five years, the massive Oxford English Dictionary has offered the last word on the English language. Now, Oxford University Press is pleased to announce a landmark new dictionary--The New Shorter Oxford English Dictionary--that brings the authority of the Oxford Dictionary Department and the vast scholarship of the OED itself within the reach of individuals.

This completely new dictionary covers virtually every word or phrase in use in English--worldwide--since 1700. Not strictly an abridgment of the OED, the New Shorter draws on the OED's ongoing revision as well as its own independent research program. Each entry provides all the information you would expect from a leading unabridged dictionary: it identifies each word's various meanings, origins, part of speech, pronunciation (in the International Phonetic Alphabet), and combinations in which the word is often found, as well as cross-references to related words. The New Shorter, however, offers something that no competitor can match: the historical, literary approach made justly famous by the OED. Thousands upon thousands of changing meanings are followed through history, illustrated by more than 83,000 quotations, from Ben Franklin to Lord Byron, from Jane Austen to Kazuo Ishiguro. The changing emphasis in the meaning of fiend, for instance, is shown by quotes ranging from Milton ("The Gates...belching outrageous flame...since the Fiend pass'd through") to J.D. Salinger ("Old Brossard was a bridge fiend, and he started looking around the dorm for a game").

The historical approach of The New Shorter offers a true feel for our rich, subtly textured language. Words are a palimpsest: along with their current meanings, many words contain the shadows of their past definitions. Understanding a word's history can help writers and speakers charge their language with nuance as well as precision. The New Shorter offers a delightful introduction to the fruits of etymology, providing a fascinating guide to the evolution of language--for both scholars and those who need a practical aid to contemporary usage.

In addition, The New Shorter offers truly international--and up-to-date--coverage. Every year, the Oxford Dictionary Department receives more than 200,000 notices of new words and meanings. These notices come from the United States, Great Britain, Australia, Canada, South Africa, India--everywhere English is spoken. As a result, this two-volume work boasts an unprecedented range of headwords and meanings, drawn from the arts and humanities as well as the sciences and technology. From molecular biology to computer software, from human anthropology to theoretical physics, the subjects covered in this dictionary make it a useful resource for scientific professionals--and for the unscientific struggling with technical terms.

The result is the world's most comprehensive, thorough, up-to-date dictionary of English. A fascinating and endlessly browsable reference, The New Shorter Oxford English Dictionary provides the definitive resource for scholars, professionals, general readers--for anyone, in fact, who wants the wealth of language available only in an unabridged dictionary.


The immense scholarship of the Oxford English Dictionary--brought within reach of everyone:

* : : : : : : :2 Volumes
* :500,000 definitions
* : : : : :7.5 million words
* : : :4,000 pages
* : :97,600 headwords
* : :25,250 variant spellings
* : :87,400 illustrative quotations
* : : :7,333 sources of quotations (including 5,519 individual authors)

Combines information from the OED with the work of a massive research project, offering thousands of fresh entries and new definitions

Up-to-the-minute coverage of English--reaching back to 1700--with thousands of new words from a worldwide monitoring program

Thorough, completely current scientific coverage

Traces the etymology and evolution of thousands of worlds (candidate, for instance, stems from a Latin word meaning "clothed in white," as Roman candidates for public office dressed in white togas)
A two convenient volumes, with full-size type

"Every entry in this famed reference source has been rewritten, many new words have been added, and the majority of the illustrative quotations used have been taken from nineteenth- and twentieth-century sources. The result is an impressive collection of 98,000 headwords and 500,000 definitions in this replacement of the decades-old Shorter Oxford English Dictionary. Many earlier and later examples of a word's use have been identified and included. Entries provide pronunciation, parts of speech, date etymology, and definitions. The definitions are modern and easy to understand and are often accompanied by usage indicators. Word lovers everywhere will welcome this up-to-date new addition to the OED family."--American Libraries

"A splendid achievement and a splendid value."--Hugh Kenner, writing in The Washington Times

"In dictionary terms, the publication of the new Shorter OED is among the major events of the last half-century."--front page article, Chicago Tribune

"This wonderfully successful dictionary provides historians and lawyers unparalleled understanding of the derivation and usage of words. No other dictionary of its size and unique organization even comes close. It is a must for students, teachers, and scholars, not to mention persons simply interested in the English language. A joy to read and to learn from, it is the only English language dictionary in the world that one would curl up with by the fire."--Kermit L. Hall, Dean and Professor of History and Law, The University of Tulsa

"The SOED treats legal terms more comprehensively than any other general English-language dictionary. It might even be said that the lawyer without it assumes the risk, is grossly negligent, and acquires books in bad faith and with willful turpitude. In other words, I recommend it highly."--Bryan A. Garner, LawProse, Inc.

"Of the great dictionaries, this is the supremely serviceable one. Never intimidating (or ingratiating), the New Shorter OED is a sheer convenience and an entire resource. Lovers of that unique body of enduring agreements which constitutes the English language, present and past, will all be the beneficiaries of a newly truly wise book in which there is not a word wasted."--Christopher Ricks

"The New Shorter Oxford English Dictionary, in its immense reach and profound wealth, has no rival for utility and potential enlightenment. Scholar-teachers of literature in particular would benefit enormously by daily resort to this exemplary work."--Harold Bloom, Yale University and New York University

"Some dictionaries are positively floccinaucinihilipilificative when it comes to science. Not this one. Scientists cannot fail to be impressed by the accuracy, concision and surprising modernity of its scientific entries. At once a delight for browsers, students and all professional users of language."--John D. Barrow, Professor of Astronomy, University of Sussex

"How grand to have, at last, these indispensable volumes! No writer, and no serious reader, can afford to live without the Shorter OED. For browsers, it's a goldmine--and you don't need a magnifying glass."--Annie Dillard

"Everyone who cherishes the English language, its history, meaning, flavor, will rejoice in the New Shorter Oxford English Dictionary and will turn to it every day for information, for precision and for the endless delights of browsing."--Arthur Schlesinger, Jr., author of The Disuniting of America

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