Tuesday, February 2, 2010

A Day Late

On February 1, 1884, the Oxford English Dictionary debuted. According to the History Channel web site:

"On this day in 1884, the first portion, or fascicle, of the Oxford English Dictionary (OED), considered the most comprehensive and accurate dictionary of the English language, is published. . . . Plans for the dictionary began in 1857 when members of London’s Philological Society, who believed there were no up-to-date, error-free English dictionaries available, decided to produce one that would cover all vocabulary from the Anglo-Saxon period (1150 A.D.) to the present. Conceived of as a four-volume, 6,400-page work, it was estimated the project would take 10 years to finish. In fact, it took over 40 years until the 125th and final fascicle was published in April 1928 and the full dictionary was complete—at over 400,000 words and phrases in 10 volumes—and published under the title A New English Dictionary on Historical Principles."

One amazing stat about the OED -

Today, the dictionary’s second edition is available online to subscribers and is updated quarterly with over 1,000 new entries and revisions. At a whopping 20 volumes weighing over 137 pounds, it would reportedly take one person 120 years to type all 59 million words in the OED.

You know that monkey who is randomly hitting keys on a keyboard? How long would it take him to type those 59 million words? And don't his neighbors get tired of that constant tap, tap, tap?

One other related thought - Dictionary Day is on October 16 which just happens to be Noah Webster’s birthday. Get your shopping done early!


  1. whats up everyone

    just signed up and wanted to say hello while I read through the posts

    hopefully this is just what im looking for looks like i have a lot to read.

  2. I hope we do not disappoint you and you enjoy your time here by the Lake.