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Quick start

This part of the Help is designed to get you searching and browsing with OED Online right away.


Quick search: finding a word or phrase

To run a quick search:

  1. Type or paste the word you want to find in the Search box.
  2. Click  or press Enter.
  3. The results of your search are displayed.

A quick search will find your term if it is a main entry, subentry, or variant spelling.

This basic procedure can be refined using a number of options. You can make your search even more specific using an advanced search.

More information on search options and advanced searching:



If your search matches only one entry that entry will be opened immediately. If there is more than one result, the matching entries are listed on the results page(s).

The number of results appears at the top. The results are listed in the main part of the page.

Each result consists of the matched headword or phrase, followed by an excerpt from the first definition of the entry.

To view any of the entries in full click anywhere in the highlighted area.

There are many different ways of viewing, sorting, and searching results. For example, you can: order them by date rather than by entry; view your search term where it appears in the text of phrases, definitions, quotations, etymologies, or the full text; search the results; or refine your search by date, part of speech, or origin.

More information on viewing, sorting, and searching results:



You can browse the A to Z entries of the dictionary much as you would a printed book:

  1. Choose Dictionary from the Browse panel. (The Browse panel is in the centre of the Home page and in the top right-hand corner of every other page.)
  2. A list of entries beginning with A, n. is displayed. Each consists of the headword (the name of the entry) and the entry's first line.
  3. Browse the list using Next » and « Previous and/or "Jump to alphabetical point in results list".
  4. To view an entry from the list, click on its headword.

You can also browse the dictionary by subject, usage, region, or origin; by date of first use; by quoted source; or taxonomically using the Historical Thesaurus. In addition you can narrow down the entries you are browsing by usage, region, subject, part of speech, origin, or date.

More information on browsing:


Using the Historical Thesaurus

The Historical Thesaurus allows you to browse the contents of OED Online by topic.

  1. Choose Historical Thesaurus from the Browse panel. (The Browse panel is in the centre of the Home page and in the top right-hand corner of every other page.)
  2. Select a topic from one of the three main categories (the external world, the mind, society) and browse its tree of subclasses. Click on the symbol next to any category to expand it.
  3. When a subclass contains entries, these are displayed on the right. Click on an entry's headword to open it.

More information on the Historical Thesaurus:

Historical Thesaurus

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Quick start