Submitted by james on October 25, 2007

Dictionaries

I’m helping to rewrite my organisation’s style guide. I prefer (and we have always used) Collins but some other colleagues prefer the OED.

Does anyone have any strong views on their respective merits?

thanks, James

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Do you mean the full Oxford English Dictionary or do you mean another Oxford product, such as the Shorter Oxford English Dictionary?

If you're talking about the former, my opinion is it's a bad choice for a day-to-day dictionary. Its update cycle is far too slow to keep it current.

If you're talking about the latter, then I would agree. It's a good day-to-day dictionary, though it's a bit pricey if you're buying a bunch for an office and the two volumes are a bit unwieldy.

Or did you mean the Oxford Dictionary of English? That, too, is a good dictionary, though not as complete as SOED. However, it can be had at a good price, is one volume, and has excellent coverage of the latest language.

All three, by the way, are substantially different works. They're not merely slightly reduced versions of a dictionary further up the editing food chain.

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Yes, the OED (Oxford English Dictionary) is generally useful for word origins and etymology (so with analyzing literature, say), but not as much so for the day-to-day.

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