Impact of the internet

The next full edition of the Oxford English Dictionary, the world’s most definitive work on the English language, will never actually be printed due to the impact of the internet on book sales

The last printed edition of the OED, in twenty volumes, was published in 1989 and since that time, 80 lexographers have been working on OED3. However, after 21 years it is still only 28% complete and will take another decade to finish.

The regular Oxford Dictionary of English will continue to be published as normal. The current OED has existed online for more than a decade and receives two million hits a month from subscribers who pay an annual fee of £240. Despite this, the OED has never actually made a profit.

The first dictionary in recognisable format was Samuel Johnson’s, which was published in 1755 and remained the standard text for 150 years until the Oxford University Press, owners of the OED, embarked on its project in 1879. The first OED came out in sections from 1884 and was finally completed in 1928.