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Frederick E. Berry Library and Learning Commons

ENL 520 Seminar in Literature Fall 2021: Catharine Maria Sedgwick

Professor Damon-Bach

Oxford English Dictionary (OED) (Ebook)

  • History of the OED:
    • "Interest in philology was also behind A New English Dictionary on Historical Principles, edited by James A. H. Murray et al., known today as the Oxford English Dictionary.  The project was initiated by the Philological Society of London’s call for a new dictionary that would reexamine the language from its earliest days and replace Samuel Johnson’s Dictionary of the English Language (1775).  When the first edition was completed in 1928, the New English Dictionary (NED) documented more than 400,000 words with literary historical citations collected from readers around the English-speaking world.  In 1933, a single-volume supplement appeared, and the NED was reissued as the now-venerable Oxford English Dictionary.  The dictionary staff continues to revise and update entries, and a third edition, known as OED3, is in progress, though it remains to be seen if it will appear in print.  With the OED3 revisions, the dictionary has expanded the resources used in definitions and citations to include more vernacular materials, continuing its tradition of description as opposed to prescription and moving away from strictly literary texts.

      The story of the OED is told in many books, most recently by Simon Winchester in The Meaning of Everything: The Story of the Oxford English Dictionary.  Sarah Ogilvie’s Words of the World: A Global History of the Oxford English Dictionary complements Winchester’s popular treatment with analysis of the OEDarchives, where Ogilvie studied the openness of various editors to loan words.  Some of the pre-history of the OED is described in Hans Aarsleff’s The Study of Language in England, 1780-1860."

  • Source: Battistella, Edwin. "A Bibliography of the History of English." Choice 51, no. 11 (July 2104)

A Dictionary of American English on Historical Principles

  • Four-volume reference book. Shelved in Reference, on the first floor of Berry Library
  • Call number: Ref. PE 2885 .C72 1940
  • Scope:

"Sir William Craigie, an OED editor, was the originator of the four-volume A Dictionary of American English on Historical Principles (DAE), which includes American English words from the settlement to the start of the twentieth century and was intended to complement the OED.  The DAE was in turn one of the sources for A Dictionary of Americanisms on Historical Principles, edited by Mitford Mathews, a two-volume work tracking 50,000 words and phrases and including both American coinages (like bifocals and ivory tower) and English words that took on new American meanings (like buffalo and refrigerator).

  • Source: Battistella, Edwin. "A Bibliography of the History of English." Choice 51, no. 11 (July 2104)

Dictionary of American Regional English

  • Shelved in Reference, on the first floor of Berry Library
  • Call number: Ref PE 2843 .D52 1985
  • Scope:
    • "Dictionary of American Regional English, edited by Frederick G. Cassidy and Joan Houston Hall, is based on face-to-face interviews conducted between 1965 and 1970 and supplemented by a collection of vernacular written materials from the Colonial period to the present.  Published in five volumes (over a period of twenty-seven years beginning in 1985) and now available in an electronic edition, DARE includes entries on fieldwork by region (often supplemented by maps), the earliest known usage of each word, and examples showing use over time.[2]  The history of the English language is also told in its slang.  Jonathon Green’s three-volume Green’s Dictionary of Slang covers the slang of the entire English-speaking world from 1500 to the present: its 53,000 headwords define 100,000 words using more than 413,000 citations.  The Historical Dictionary of American Slang, edited by Jonathan Lighter, offers an OED-like tracing of etymological development through dated citations and entries with field and usage labels; however, only the first two volumes have been published, covering A-G and H-O."


  • Source: Battistella, Edwin. "A Bibliography of the History of English." Choice 51, no. 11 (July 2104)