OED Holy Grail? Check.

We who are word nerds love a good dictionary. And is there a better one out there than the Oxford English Dictionary (OED)? In my mind, the OED is the holy grail of English dictionaries.

From a very long time ago (going back decades), I’ve looked on and off to pick up a full OED set in all its 20+ heavy volumes majesty. I never found one at a good used price, and balked at the price of a new set, so my search was forever in vain.

Last year, I found the older edition’s 12+ volume set at Dawn Treaders, a local Ann Arbor used bookstore with a long history in the area supporting Univ. of Michigan students for 40 years. I wrestled with whether I’d be okay with the older, fewer volumes set or should I hold out for the mammoth set nearly requiring its own bookcase.

Fast forward to now when I’m focusing on building up a more extensive personal library, and decided this smaller set (still takes three feet of shelf!) would be better and more functional for me. Besides, I have free access to OED online through the Ann Arbor library should I need deeper information on newer words through that database link.

You’re probably wondering why spend $$$ on a physical set when the online version is available?

If you’re thinking that, then you’ve never enjoyed getting lost wandering off on word tangents while looking up a single word in a big dictionary. That’s the fun of set like this one: not just finding deeper and industry-accepted definitions, but usage history and dates, archaic definitions, and more. If all you want is the first usable meaning, spelling, or proper hyphenation, then having 13 volumes on the nearby shelf is overkill. But the exploration, fun, and sheer learning value from a big, physical dictionary makes all the difference to me.

Plus, I’m loving and embracing, more and more every day, the analogue thingie. And a set like this says “analogue baby” with a capital A.

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