The Shorter Oxford English Dictionary is a dense distillation of the twenty volume Oxford English Dictionary (OED) and this fifth edition of the Shorter OED represents a summary or abridgement of its much larger parent. It contains around a third of the OED within a tenth of the size. Yet this hefty two-volume tome is not something you are easily able to casually flip through whilst reading in bed!
It must be understood that the OED is hands-down the most impressive dictionary in any language. It represents perhaps the most sustained and noteworthy scholarly achievement in any field attained by the human race so far. The Shorter OED therefore derives from the absolute best and as such is poised for excellence of its own. It does not disappoint.
It should be noted that among its many excellent attributes, the Shorter OED is based on historical principles. Usually dictionaries represent a snapshot of a language as presently used but Oxford goes much further than that and includes the linguistic history of all major words since 1700 (plus, of course, all major words used by Shakespeare, the Authorized Version of the Bible, the poetry of Milton, and Spenser's Faerie Queene), citing changing meanings and usage over the centuries. It even includes obsolete words used by major authors or that explain the development of other words. There are extensive examples of word usages in the dictionary: more than 83 thousand quotes from over 7 thousand authors are included in the text. Even Quentin Tarantino is quoted: "Tell her to chill!"
The Shorter OED is the absolute acme of dictionaries - bar the OED, of course - and its two volumes are wieldy enough to be of relatively easy practical value in your home. It is expensive, though, but if you are a lover of dictionaries it is worth every last ounce of what you pay for it: a lifetime investment.
It goes without saying the quality of binding and paper leaves nothing to be desired. This is not a tool to teach oneself English, but a tool for the English literate who do have occasion to look up obscure words or usages while reading at home (you will not travel with these heavy volumes!)....Continua