Need to use a free Oxford English dictionary online because you are partial to the Oxford brand of resources? Oxford publishes some of the best dictionaries for school, work and general use. Oxford has dictionaries ranging from quotations to the English language and first names. If you are seeking a free Oxford English dictionary online, try some of the websites listed below.
Why Use a Dictionary Online?
The biggest reason people use online dictionaries is for convenience. You may not have a physical dictionary at hand, but you are sitting at a computer. Loading up a dictionary website takes seconds, as does typing in the word and reading the results. Another reason is that some people don't have a dictionary in their home. An online dictionary is an easy replacement for this reference book.
History of the Oxford Dictionary
When the project started, the dictionary had nothing to do with Oxford. As the number of words grew and the possibility of a huge book became apparent, the creators realized they couldn't publish the books themselves and sought a publisher. In 1878, the Oxford University Press signed on to publish the book. The project had already been going on for 20 years and the first edition still wasn't published for another 10.
Even then, the Oxford Dictionary was published in chunks, about every two to four years. The creators started with A and B, then published C and continued the trend of about one letter every year. Letters with a larger capacity were sometimes published in two volumes. In 1928, the full first edition of the Oxford Dictionary was finally completed. The next complete edition, with new words, was published in 1989 and in March of 2010, Oxford published a third volume.
Where to Find a Free Oxford English Dictionary Online
Oxford does provide a site you can subscribe to that lets you search the entirety of the Oxford English Dictionary. If you are affiliated with an educational or scientific institution (or other institution Oxford deems eligible) you can sign up for a 30-day free trial. Subscriptions are available for individuals, and you can take a quick tour of the website.
The Free Dictionary has a seemingly cluttered page, but what you can do with the site is pretty comprehensive. Not only can you search for English words, but you can type in a foreign word (from the list of available languages) and find out the meaning. You can also play games, add toolbars and web browser extensions and add The Free Dictionary to My Yahoo and Google pages.
Dictionary.com, which is part of the Reference.com series of web sites related to Ask.com, is a little easier to navigate, but contains more ads when the results of your word are displayed. There is also a crossword solver, text translator and a number of word games you can play.
Use the free Oxford English Dictionary online when it's convenient and you don't have the full set available. However, don't rely just on the online version for your word; for more in-depth understanding, see what your physical dictionary has to say on the subject.