The first volume of the Oxford English Dictionary (OED) was published on February 1, 1884, and represented the first comprehensive record of the English language. The idea for the dictionary was first proposed by the Philological Society of London in 1857, and work on the project began in 1879. The OED aimed to provide an exhaustive and authoritative record of all words and meanings in the English language from its earliest known origins to the present day.
In the 1870s, the Philological Society was focused on publishing a comprehensive dictionary. They had printed pages, but couldn't find a publisher. Both Cambridge and Oxford University Presses were considered, but it wasn't until 1879 that Oxford finally agreed . The dictionary was to be released in stages and in its final form would consist of 4 volumes and 6,400 pages. The goal was to complete the project within 10 years.
The first volume of the OED covered the letters A to Ant and was praised for its meticulous attention to detail and the depth of its research. The dictionary was based on a system of quotation-based evidence, which meant that the editors included examples of words and meanings taken from a wide range of texts, from Old English poems to contemporary newspaper articles. This approach helped to establish the historical context of words and meanings and provided a robust foundation for the dictionary's definitions.
The publication of the first volume of the OED was a significant event in the history of lexicography, as it was the first time that a comprehensive dictionary of the English language had been produced. The dictionary was widely regarded as a masterpiece of scholarship and was celebrated for its innovative approach to documenting the English language.
The first volume of the OED was just the beginning of what would become a monumental project. Over the next 50 years, additional volumes were published, covering the rest of the alphabet, until the complete dictionary was finally published in 1928. Today, the OED remains one of the most widely-used and respected dictionaries in the world, and is widely regarded as the authoritative reference on the English language.
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