Database of the Month: OED Revisited

The Oxford English Dictionary (OED) started life more than 150 years ago. That is staying power!

The OED is a source for investigating the meaning, history, and pronunciation of 600,000 words— past and present—from across the English-speaking world.

Ten years ago, a Bentley Librarian first highlighted the OED for a Database of the Month post. I am revisiting this database because some additional features and content is now available.

Ever wondered how words become a part of the OED? This Interactive Graphic explains the process of how OMG became an entry. Every three months, the OED continues to evolve and publishes changes/revisions/additions to its contents.

One of this resource’s biggest strengths is its inclusion of the Historical Thesaurus. Dictionary entries are arranged by meaning throughout time. Looking at the history and development of words over time allows you to discover what a specific word meant in the time that a particular text/novel was written.  This helps to give you context and prevent any misunderstanding of the author’s meaning.

You can use the OED to look for a quote to include in your writing. Quotes are included from many disciplines including economics and business.

Aggregate, adj. and n. (2012 September). Oxford English Dictionary. Oxford University Press. Retrieved from OED Online database.

Explore their “Word of the day” (located in the sidebar on the right) or sign up for their Word of the Day newsletter to improve your vocabulary one day at a time

Look up a spelling! Using the * symbol helps you discover new words and word variants to use in your writing, keyword searching and online scrabble games. Col*r brings up all words that start with COL and end with an R.

Helpful OED staff created some excellent how to videos (each between 1 to 3 minutes) to quickly learn searching techniques and interpreting your results.

The OED is as relevant now as it was 10 years ago. Start exploring or re-exploring today.

Database of the Month provides a very brief introduction to useful library databases, highlighting key features you should know about. If you would like more information about this resource (or any of the library’s databases), please contact us for research assistance. If you would like a demonstration of these resources for a class, please schedule a research instruction class using the instruction request form.