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The O E D Finally Begins Publication (February 1, 1884 – April 19, 1928)


Twenty-three years after the project began, on February 1, 1884, the first fascicule of A New English Dictionary on Historical Principles; Founded Mainly on the Materials Collected by The Philological Society was published, under the editorship of James Murray

The 352-page volume, covering words from A to Ant, cost 12s.6d or U.S. $3.25. The total sales of this fascicule were 4000 copies. The dictionary was eventually complete in 126 fascicules, the last of which was published on April 19, 1928, 44 years after publication began. The name Oxford English Dictionary (OED) was first used for the work in 1895. The first Supplement was published in 1933.

According to Rob Rulon-Miller in his 2014 rare book catalogue 147: Wordswords: Books on Language, No. 664, there were numerous variants of the fascicules issued during the publication history of the OED between 1884 and 1928, resulting in wide variation in the number of fascicules required to make up a complete set. In his catalogue note Rulon-Miller mentioned that he had handled complete sets with fascicules numbering 126, 112, 100, and 67, and 51. He also mentioned that many prefaces, prefatory notes, titles and half titles, etc. present in the fascicules were not included in the book edition of the dictionary.

(This entry was last revised on 05-06-2014.)