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Dictionary facts

First Edition

Proposed size: 4 volumes, 6,400 pages (with provision for ‘a larger dictionary containing not fewer than 10 volumes, each containing not less than 1,600 pages’)

Actual size: 10 volumes, 15,490 pages

Proposed time to complete: 10 years

Actual time to complete: 70 years (from approval date)

Publication date: 1884-1928 in 128 fascicles. Published in 10 volumes in 1928 and reissued in 12 volumes in 1933, with addition of one-volume Supplement

Price of fascicles: 12 shillings and sixpence for large sections

Price of bound volumes (1928): from 50 to 55 guineas for the set, depending on binding

Number of pages edited by James Murray: est., 7,200

Number of entries: 252,200

Number of word forms defined and/or illustrated: 414,800

Number of contributors (readers): est. 2,000

Number of quotations submitted by contributors: est. 5 million

Number of quotations used in Dictionary: 1,861,200

Number of authors represented in quotations: 2,700

Number of works represented in quotations: 4,500

Supplement (1972-1986)

Proposed size: one volume, 1,300 pages

Actual size: 4 volumes, 5,730 pages

Proposed time to complete: 7 years

Actual time to complete: 30 years

Publication date: vol. 1, 1972; vol. 2, 1976; vol. 3, 1982; vol. 4, 1986

Number of entries: 69,300

Number of quotations: est. 527,000

Second Edition (1989)

Proposed size: 20 volumes

Actual size: 20 volumes, 21,730 pages

Publication date: 1989

Weight of text: 62.6 kilos or 137.72 lbs.

Amount of ink used to print complete run: 2,830 kilos or 6,243 lbs.

Number of words in entire text: 59 million

Number of printed characters: 350 million

Number of different typographical characters used in text: approx.: 750 (660 special plus approx. 90 on regular keyboard)

Equivalent person years used to ‘key in’ text to convert to machine-readable form: 120

Equivalent person years to proof-read text: 60

Number of megabytes of electronic storage required for text: 540

Number of entries: 291,500

Number of main entries: 231,100

Number of main entries for obsolete words: 47,100

Number of main entries for spurious words: 240

Number of main entries for non-naturalized words: 12,200

Longest entry in Dictionary: the verb ‘set’ with over 430 senses consisting of approximately 60,000 words or 326,000 characters

Number of cross-reference entries: 60,400

Number of cross-references within entries: 580,600

Number of word forms defined and/or illustrated: 615,100

Number of pronunciations: 139,900

Number of etymologies: 219,800

Number of quotations: 2,436,600

Most frequently quoted work (in various full and partial version, and translations): Bible (est. 25,000 quotations)

Most frequently quoted single author: Shakespeare (approx. 33,300 quotations)

Most frequently quoted single work of Shakespeare: Hamlet (almost 1,600 quotations)

Percentage of quotations by centuries:
  20th century 20 per cent
  19th century 31
  18th century 11
  17th century 16
  16th century 10
  15th century 4.5
  14th century 3.5
  13th century 1
  1st to 12th centuries 1
  Undated (see note) 0.5

Note: ‘Undated’ includes approximately 1,250 quotations from Beowulf, with the balance consisting of proverbs, nursery rhymes, ‘made up’ illustrations, and references to the appearance of word forms ‘in mod. Dicts.’

OED Additions Series (1993, 1997)

Volume 1 (1993)
Number of entries (new senses added): 3152
Number of pages: 334
Volume 2 (1993)
Number of entries (new senses added): 3335
Number of pages: 336
Volume 3 (1997)
Number of entries (new senses added): 3319
Number of pages: 352

All the above figures should be regarded as approximate.