The English Oxford Dictionary (OED) is a fascinating book and, for a lot of us who work with the English Language every day, it is a trusted companion.  So, we thought we’d shed some light on this little book of wisdom with some unusual facts, starting with some statistics about the first edition, first officially fully bound and published in 1928 (but some earlier sections were published in the late 1800’s):

  • Its actual size was 10 volumes consisting of 15,490 pages;
  • Once the book was approved, it took 70 years to compile the first edition;
  • Number of original entries, (words and their meanings), 252,200;
  • Number of contributors 2000;
  • In 1972 a supplement was prepared, estimated to take 7 years but took 30 years and contained a further 69,300 entries;
  • In comparison, when the second edition was prepared in 1989 it was twenty volumes (double the size) and contained 231,100 entries, 291,500 further entries, 47,100 obsolete words, 27,100 non-naturalised words, amongst many other tens of thousands of quotations!!
  • There are currently over 600,000 words alone in the OED;
  • Interestingly J.R.R Tolkien’s first job was to be in charge of the letter W following the First World War;
  • When the OED was first put into an online format, it required 120 typists, who each keyed in over 350 million characters, resulting in the assistance of 55 proofreaders! It first went online in 2000.
  • The OED costs over four million pounds each year just in editorial costs;
  • A new word is added to the OED every two hours;
  • And finally, what is the first word in the OED. It is Aardvark but the first entry is A……  i.e. a bowl of cereal; a pleasant man.  Although only one letter it is a word and is the first entry in the OED.

Anyway, a little bit of mindless information for you……