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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars THE dictionary
Once you've seen the OED, nothing else really looks like a dictionary. This is the authoritative source of information on words of the English language - their many meanings (look up "jack", for example), usages, histories, and origins, and more.
It takes me a lot longer to use this than to use any other dictionary. No matter what I look up, I find lots of...
Published on June 21 2004 by wiredweird

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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Ambivalent feelings----
My new compact OED is back in its box awaiting to be returned for credit. I've never experienced such mixed emotions over a book purchase before. However, I must concur with the other reviews that advise saving up for the 20-volume set instead (or just purchasing the 2-volume "Shorter Oxford Dictionary", if money or space is a problem). This compact micrographic edition...
Published on July 11 2002 by J. Gaines


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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars THE dictionary, June 21 2004
By 
wiredweird "wiredweird" (Earth, or somewhere nearby) - See all my reviews
Once you've seen the OED, nothing else really looks like a dictionary. This is the authoritative source of information on words of the English language - their many meanings (look up "jack", for example), usages, histories, and origins, and more.
It takes me a lot longer to use this than to use any other dictionary. No matter what I look up, I find lots of other interesting words or meanings on the way through. That's the fun of it, though: so many discoveries to make about even the words thought I knew.
The compact edition is an incredible feat of printing. It really does contain everything in the 20-volume set, mini-printed with nine regular pages per compact page. The paper is tissue thin, so the book isn't a meter thick, but opaque and durable.
The mini-printing can be a problem, though. Older eyes will not be able to read the text without a magnifier; one is provided, but isn't the easiest to use. The size and weight of the book could be a problem, too. If you want to display this, and you will, it might not be easy to find a big enough space for it.
It's worth the trouble. This volume is the only practical way to have the OED at home (mansions not included).
There is nothing like it - if I were allowed to own just one book, this would be it.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The question is not to own, but which to get., Nov. 20 2000
As other reviewers have said so clearly, this dictionary is a treat for anybody who writes, reads, thinks or speaks English. Its monumental enough that I haven't even sounded its depths. So far I use it for the odd words that I come across in readings, occasionally my trusty Arden Shakespeare's don't have a definition that I need, and this is the only dictionary that covers everything. In several years of use I still don't use its best feature, the quotations. It's too much for me yet, I'm not ready to look for the shades of meaning in a word in the 16th century; the right idiom of another time. One day I'll be ready for that.
But the question for the prospective purchaser is, which version? First I bought the CDROM, luckily the OLD version of the software, which is wonderful. It's good enough, why did they have to change it to this new, horrid, fake web browser version? Please OUP, bring back the original OED Windows software for people. Anyhow, now I own the 20 volume set, but I don't own the 2 volume "eye strain" version, though I've spent time with it in libraries.
My advice is, if you can spend the three to four hundred dollars, get the CDROM instead of the 2 volume set. The new CDROM software sounds pretty bad, but at least with this you can actually read the text, and get the full search facility. I use it as my spell checker, the "*" regex style searching is wonderful. I know how a misspelled word begins and ends, and the OED does the rest. Its also fun sometimes to do searches based on author, or find words based on time, to see how words filtered out into writing.
Now, if you can spend more than that, the 20 volume set is the one to get. The computer version simply doesn't lend itself to browsing, or to lookup while your reading (its too jarring to go to a computer and look up a word while in the easy chair reading.) But the bound version is so sensual, and beautiful, and while it takes a bit longer to find your word (but not much longer, especially considering the unergonomic act of starting the computer, starting the software etc) it's the best overall version. The best thing is that you can easily take in the whole definition of a word. On the computerized version, it's too difficult to see the map of the senses. They do have an outline mode, but it doesn't work for me. Seeing it all written out on a big page makes it really easy to see all the different meanings of a word and how they relate.
So which should you buy? The ultimate (if it's important and you have money enough) get both the CDROM and the 20 volume bound set. Next best, the 20 volume version. After that, get the CDROM, and if you don't have a computer (but then how would you be reading this?) get the 2 volume set. If money is tight, most libraries have it in the reference section; at least go to your local branch and treat yourself to an hour of browsing the Dictionary.
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Ambivalent feelings----, July 11 2002
By 
J. Gaines "Jimvg" (Southeastern USA) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
My new compact OED is back in its box awaiting to be returned for credit. I've never experienced such mixed emotions over a book purchase before. However, I must concur with the other reviews that advise saving up for the 20-volume set instead (or just purchasing the 2-volume "Shorter Oxford Dictionary", if money or space is a problem). This compact micrographic edition is indeed a terrific buy for those with the eyes/patience for it and who merely want to occasionally look up an obscure word. However, the greatest enjoyment I derive from reference books is browsing through them. Thus, the compact OED is definitely _not_ a good browsing book. I began to develop a sick headache after only 15 minutes of perusal. By the way, I found that any one of my four large magnifying glasses worked better than the one supplied with the book-- but I still got eyestrain and a headache (In case you're wondering if I am vision-impaired::: I have excellent vision and do *not* normally utilize magnifying glasses for reading but only for certain hobbies requiring extreme scrutinizing of very minute detail, etc). As far as this edition is concerned, nine pages squeezed onto one page is less than a user-friendly format, to put it mildly. I have not personally seen the first version of the compact OED but its purportedly having just four pages reproduced onto one large page sounds like a vastly better design and a good compromise, even though it does require the two volumes. I feel that the publisher was quite foolish to alter the previous configuration to this one frustrating, eye-vexing volume. Well, we live and learn.
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7 of 9 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars A beautiful book, but hard to use, Dec 2 2003
By 
I have no complaints about the actual content of the book - this is by far the best dictionary in the world - but everyone should seriously consider whether they want to spend this much money to look at text the size of microfiche print. That isn't an exaggeration; each page actually looks like it has several of those little microfiche slides printed on it. Even with the magnifying glass, the print is incredibly tiny, and anyone at all far-sighted should stay away from this book.
Although I appreciate the efforts of the OED to put so much material into one book, the product is just too unwieldy - to hold, to read, to carry around. In addition to the print being tiny, the book is huge. It's nice as an object, but as a functional dictionary it proves to be rather inconvenient - especially if you don't have a nice big stand for it to rest on, which I don't.
I really dislike staring at a computer screen, and prefer to get a paper copy of any text if at all possible - but for the OED that isn't economically feasible. I didn't want the abridged version, and buying all twenty volumes is prohibitively expensive - so I really do recommend the CD Rom version or subscribing to the dictionary online if you have Internet access. You can't really browse in those, which is too bad, but you can't really browse while trawling around this Lilliputian thicket of letters with a magnifying glass either.
The electronic sources have the additional feature of being searchable by multiple terms, so you can find quotes from a particular author, or book - and many other things that aren't possible with paper.
Buy this if you only plan on dipping into it on rare occasions, and want a lovely object, but there are better options for people really hoping to use it as a dictionary.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Just what I wanted, Jan. 29 2014
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
I first saw this tome just after it was first published and displayed in a major book store here in Australia. Now I finally have it and it;s a wonderful addition to my library. Having read the the history of it's creation I can appreciate it more and the lack of the latest words are of no concern considering my intended use of this dictionary in my studies.
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5.0 out of 5 stars It grows on you..., May 18 2013
By 
D. Bannister (Calgary, Alberta Canada) - See all my reviews
(TOP 500 REVIEWER)    (REAL NAME)   
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
There are so many cons to a purchase like this. The book is unwieldy: it is large and heavy. Your desk would have to be three times the standard size to open it comfortably. The print is small. Ants need glasses to read it.

'Compact' is not the word I would use to describe it. Basically it takes all 20 volumes of the Oxford English Dictionary, which to buy eliminates your kid's college fund, and it puts it in a vice and squeezes into one volume. Nine pages Oxford English Dictionary = One page Compact Oxford English Dictionary. What is cute and maybe slightly sadistic: the introductory pages have even been condensed too. There is nothing in this book that hasn't been shrunk!

They provide a magnifying glass. It is heavy and it takes the print from ant scrawl to Winnipeg horsefly scrawl. If you are in your 30's and 40's it is doable. But in your 50's you need to take off your glasses and put your nose next to the glass as you whirl it around the page.

So what makes this dictionary so gosh darn fun? You feel like Merlin ruminating over an esoteric book of spells. You have your magnifying glass and book out on the kitchen table. It is in the early hours and the house isn't awake. You open it up and glide your glass over the pages stopping to here and there. Pausing. Thinking. Soaking in words and roots you never knew existed. You visit old friends and learn something new. You make new friends and try to remember their names and their meanings but you know you won't before the glass slides over to a new word.

Do you have options?. Sure you can buy the Oxford Dictionary in 20 volumes plus supplements. It is rather like putting a baby grand piano in your house and having to brace the floor. Make sure the shelves can take the weight. You can buy it on CD-
ROM but the reviews are lukewarm. And you can buy it as a monthly or yearly online subscription that is equivalent to buying the 'compact version' every year.

So why buy an ant scrawl dictionary that comes with a bulbous archaic magnifying glass that ouijis over the pages? Because I haven't had such a good time in a book since I can remember.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A superlative lexicon, Dec 17 2002
By 
J. Wong "joohop" (Jackson Heights, NY United States) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
I was never a perspicacious cognoscenti of sonorous locutions, but with this lexicon, I've become quite magniloquent. Now, I look up words with great alacrity! Just as masticating sustenance is a quotidian routine, we should also edify ourselves to the argot of bombastic schmoes frequently.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Some specifics to help you make a buying decision . . ., June 19 2001
By 
Thomas J. Brucia "Tom B" (Houston, TX United States) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This dictionary is unequalled (see the praise of all the other reviewers, with whom I agree regarding the quality of this reference). Beyond excellence loom are other issues, however: weight and legibility are the most obvious. My balance beam scale indicates that it weighs (approximately) 11-3/4 pounds (i.e. 5-1/3 kg). So when a reviewer says this edition is 'heavy' this is what he means.... Note that the dimensions (sometimes called 'big') are 3.89 inches x 17.55 inches x 11.21 inches.... As to legibility, I cannot find any mention of the point size, so I will be more subjective. I am 55 years old and I wear progressive lens (in other words I'm both farsighted and nearsighted!). In average light if I take my glasses off I can read the definitions WITHOUT the magnifying glass, though the words sometimes alternately blur and sharpen, so it's sometimes a stretch. I find it quite easy to read WITH the magnifying glass, especially under a lamp. True, the tiny print means it's not like reading a John LeCarre paperback, but this is a * dictionary *, for Pete's sake! I use it to solve linguistics puzzles. Tonight I was stumped by the words "theophoric" and "enclitic" (both in reference to scribal practices involving the copying of the Hebrew Bible). So I lugged the monster down from my bookcase (where it lies flat!), skipped pulling out the magnifying glass, and looked up the definitions, pausing as my eyes would go in and out of focus (I can be quite lazy when I'm lying prone on the carpet and don't want to get up to get the magnifier!). I am absolutely happy with my purchase. My wife would not be, partly because she would be shocked to discover what I paid for it, and partly because her case of early macular degeneration would probably make it unavailable to her. So it's a decision to be made carefully, and one should be honest with oneself. If you are visually handicapped, or if you lack an obsession with the English language, there are 'digest condensed' dictionaries which would drive me to tears but which might completely satisfy you... I can only say that I'm happy as a clam with my 'ultimate dictionary....'
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars THE WIDEST WORLD OF WORDS --- LITERALLY, Jan. 6 2001
.
If you love words, their meanings and origins, (and you've got a few dollars to spare and have got the shelf space), you've just got to get yourself a hardcopy set of the OED.
With the world of words rapidly going on-line, this definitive 20-volume lexicon of the English language will in a generation or so almost certainly become a collector's item if not a museum piece.
The OED is an incredible record of 19th and 20th Century Anglophone civilization, and deserves to become a treasured heirloom by our grandchildren and further generations in this new Millennium.
Dictionaries are much more than spellcheckers and crossword puzzle solvers. A dictionary like the OED has its real power and value in its use as an etymological tool. It's the origin of words and where they were first used that gives us a fundamental understanding of our language.
For lovers of Shakespeare there are references to words first appearing in his works on almost every page of the OED. A great on-line project would be to hyperlink a "Complete Works" of the Bard to the OED with all the non-common words he uses.
One word of warning to book lovers and potential owners of the OED ---- Make sure your four feet of shelf space is well shielded from direct sunlight. Those gorgeous royal blue fly-covers will fade very quickly if over exposed to UV.
If you were given the choice of what books you could take to that hypothetical desert island, the OED would have to be the linguaphiles choice. It is the perfect encapsulation and guide to what our language and culture is all about.
As a footnote you have to admire that quirky but subtle British humour that shines through even in the serious world of dictionary publishing. Check out the spines of Volumes VII and XVII where they are indexed with the first and last word in each volume.
In Volume VII we have " Hat -- Intervacuum ". Is the OED subtly telling us what lurks under a Stetson? Volume XVI is indexed from " Soot -- Styx'. Is this evidence that there is a hot and smoky welcome on the other side of that river between here and hell?
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1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Almost Useless, Dec 26 2000
By A Customer
Even with the magnifying glass this volume's type is so small as to be almost useless. Navigation is difficult, as is reading extended entries. Intense light is needed to illuminate this tiny type. I wish now I had invested the extra $650.00 to purchase the full-sized set, and would vastly recommend one of the abridged, full-sized versions of the OED to this version.
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