The Oxford English Dictionary is the online version of the 20 volume dictionary, containing 60,000 words and charting the course of the English language over the past 1000 years. The online version is easier to search than the print, contains more words, and can do lots of interesting stuff!
How to access:
– Under Reference Resources in the E-resources tab on your Subject Guide
1. Go to The Databases A-Z guide on the library subject guides.
2. Go to O
3. Select Oxford English Dictionary
For a really good introduction to searching, and help understanding the interface, watch this video (best viewed fullscreen)
If you want to find out where words came from, click on the links on the quotations and you can find out
- which other words that title contributed to English
- when it was first, and subsequently, used
- links to the Oxford Dictionary of National Biography for more information on the contributor/author
- links to the RHUL Library catalogue
This is a very powerful search that combines all of the search functionalities available.
For example: you could combine terms, usage, dates etc to find out slang terms in 1990s, or 1690s search slang in full text + date of entry 1990-2000/1690-1700
Using Wildcards and the Advanced Search, or, Using the OED to solve crossword puzzles:
The timelines are a way of visualising when words came into English language usage. They can be found from the OED homepage.
Although the timeline defaults to all words in the dictionary, you can refine it to subject/category
By region i.e. words used in an area
Or by origin i.e. where words came from
Follow the blog for essays on English Language, and try the quizzes– post your results in the comments below!