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A History of the «Concise Oxford Dictionary»


Malgorzata Kaminska

This book shows the evolution of the Concise Oxford Dictionary, a famous and innovative dictionary for native speakers of English. It traces changes in the dictionary from 1911 to recent times. By comparing samples from each edition, the author provides insights into the revisions of the dictionary. The analysis sheds light on the editors’ policy on various aspects of the dictionary’s structure, including definition style, vocabulary selection and sense discrimination. The study shows how the editors abandoned the telegraphic style of definitions and adapted them to the needs of the target users. As the dictionary evolved towards greater user-friendliness, it also aimed at broader vocabulary coverage.
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4. Size


This section shows a comparison of the successive editions of COD in terms of the size of the main body. The size was measured by counting the average number of characters on a page and multiplying it by the number of pages in the main body. In this way a total number of characters in the main body of the dictionary was obtained. This section will close with comments on two parameters relevant to the size of the dictionary, namely the density of the text on a page and the font size.

Having done a count for each edition, we present the results in Table 1 below. As seen in this table, the approximate number of characters in the main body almost doubled, from 5.9 million in COD1 to 10.3 in COD11. Comparing the data in Graph 1, we can see that the increase was especially significant in the following editions: COD6, COD8, COD9 and COD11. This shows that the editors of these editions were especially concerned with the addition of new vocabulary. On the other hand, a rather minor increase was noted in the editions COD2-COD5, which can be explained by the fact that revisions in these editions were rather few.

COD10 was special, with regard to the size of the main body, as it was the only edition which showed a decrease (by 0.2 million) in the number of characters (see Table 1). The reason for the reduction in size was the...

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