Sunday, March 16, 2008


Math Man jokes that I married him because he was in line to inherit a copy of the Compact Oxford English dictionary. This is (mostly) an exaggeration. The infamous copy of the OED, complete with the little drawer containing a magnifying glass now resides in a cabinet in my office. Tonight, while grabbing a file folder off the shelf, Crash noticed the OED stashed in the corner. "Is that the dictionary you married Dad to get?" I agreed it was his dad's dowry. "Compact Oxford English Dictionary," he read off the back. "That's a joke!" I'm confuzzled. "Two volumes isn't very compact, Mom," Crash patiently explains. Since I'm entertaining visions of the first version of the OED I knew-- some 15 volumes -- two volumes (which contain all the content of those 15 huge volumes) seems pretty compact to me.

I use the online version these days, thanks to a subscription through the college (only 8 clicks away at this very moment). More than a half million words waiting for me to find them. Crash and I wondered if you could still get the printed version. Yep. eBay. $599 + 69.99 shipping from the official re-sellers for Oxford University Press. 20 volumes.

Enjoy testing your skills. Play the vocabulary game at Correct answers result in rice donated to people in need. My "best" rating is 51 (best possible is 55). Crash was impressed.


  1. I have at times been drawn to the OED at Wernersville while on retreat.

  2. Anonymous10:33 PM

    I'll have to try the game...what a great incentive.

  3. I adore the OED. One of my favorite college English assignments ever used it.

  4. I first got to use an OED in high school, for an English assignment. Yay! I decided it was the coolest reference work ever. :)

    Ms. Math's grandfather has an OED... the whole family's wonderfully geeky, though, so we might have to have a spelling bee to see who inherits it!

    Michelle, you'll appreciate this, I think: at a dissertation defense party for a BMC alum here in Ann Arbor, none of the non-Mawrters believed "reune" is a word when we used it in conversation. So we logged on to the [University of MI] on-line OED, and yes! it was there. (It first appeared in the early 20th C.)

    Ah, the triumph of geekdom...!