Joi Ito's Web

Joi Ito's conversation with the living web.

Another one from BoingBoing

I truely love the OED and this new edition sounds cool. "bunny-hugger" in the OED is really something I must ponder tonight. I'm going to go to amazon now to buy this...
The essence of the Oxford English Dictionary

2002 is indeed an auspicious year. It is the first year that can celebrate a World Cup, a Royal Jubilee, and a new edition of the Shorter Oxford English Dictionary. In terms of frequency, a new Shorter comes between the other two events: it is almost ten years since the previous edition, and this is only the fifth edition of a book that was first published in 1933.

People often point out that 'Shorter' is a strange title for a two volume work. Of course it's only 'Short' when compared to the twenty volumes of the full Oxford English Dictionary. Although one tenth the size of the OED, it manages to include around one third of its content: it aims to include all words used in English since 1700, as well as everything in Shakespeare, the Authorized Version of the Bible, the poetry of Milton, and Spenser's Faerie Queene. As a historical dictionary, it includes obsolete words if they are used by major authors and earlier meanings where they explain the development of a word. More than ten centuries of English are covered here, from the Old English period to the 21st century.

Some 3,500 new entries have been added to the fifth edition. Asylum seeker, economic migrant, bed-blocking, and stakeholder pension reflect the serious side of life; bunny-hugger (a conservationist or animal lover), chick flick (a film appealing to women), gearhead (a car enthusiast), and Grinch (a spoilsport or killjoy) are entries in a more light-hearted vein. Several entries are testaments to the popularity of science fiction, among them Tardis from the TV series Doctor Who, Jedi from Star Wars, and Klingon from Star Trek.

1 Comment

This is nice to see - a shorter OED in book form, but I just can't imagine sticking this thing in my bag with my laptop. I want the OED online. I went to their web site and found it costs $550 a year for individual subscriptions. Humph! So I had a bit of a whiny playful exchange with them:

From: Justin Hall Sent: Thursday, August 29, 2002 11:07 To: '' Subject: Greetings

Hello OED -

I am a writer, journalist and "web logger" running a site at . Often I wonder after the origins of words and I would love to subscribe to your online dictionary service. How would I go about doing that?

Thank you,

Justin Hall

From: Harris, Nolen []
Sent: Thursday, August 29, 2002 12:27
To: Justin Hall
Subject: RE: Greetings

Thank you for your email regarding the Oxford English Dictionary Online.

Single subscriptions (one user id & password) for individuals are $550.00 (USD) per year. Discounted rates and monthly payment arrangements are not available.

If you are a student, please check with your school librarian for free, network access to the OED Online. For information on institutional licenses, including non-profit organizations, for-profit companies, schools and government offices, please follow this link:

To establish your individual subscription the following information is required:
credit card number (AMEX, VISA, MasterCard),
credit card expiration date,
full billing address,
and phone number.

If you will send us this information via the fax number or email address below we will be happy to set up your account.

Or, you can sign up online at
The first page that you will see is our license agreement; once you have agreed to the terms, you can sign up online.

Please note: It will take two business days before you will be able to access the OED Online. You will be notified by email.

Please let us know if you have any additional questions or visit our website at to take a free tour.


Nolen Harris
Online Administrator
Scholarly & Professional Reference
Oxford University Press
fax: 212/726-6442

From: Justin Hall
Sent: Tuesday, September 17, 2002 8:29
To: 'NY-Online Mailbox'
Subject: RE: Greetings

Nolen -

Thank you for your swift and informative reply.

I would like to find a cheaper way to use your fantastic resource over the web. Can you recommend anything? I'd be happy to help you drive more volume sales by encouraging my freelance writer friends to sign up for less expensive access. As it is, your online OED service would seem to be for the sole use of people who love words so much they can forego a month of rent or two car payments for a year of English language insight.

Alas, I cannot. And so, I remain, only partially-literate,

Justin Hall

Obviously they've targeted their business at institutions and not individuals. Their site, pricing, and "email to subscribe" (not credit card or PayPal) is not terrifically net-wise. I hope they end up pricing their online services down some - it would be great to subscribe; I think my price-point would be no more than $200/year perhaps. But maybe if I got a trial subscription and I got used to it I would pay more. Or less!