Things I know so far:

  1. The OED is the Oxford English Dictionary. It's widely regarded as the definitive record of the English language.

  2. The ODE is the Oxford Dictionary of English, previously The New Oxford Dictionary of English (NODE).

  3. The NOAD is the New Oxford American Dictionary.

  4. The ODO is Oxford Dictionaries Online but has since been rebranded as Oxford Living Dictionaries. This might not be a separate dictionary and may be an umbrella term for the ODE and NOAD?

I believe all of these are published by Oxford University Press.

And I believe Google has licensed ODE and NOAD for its definitions. (And Apple and Microsoft too.)

I have a huge beef with those definitions so I'm trying to get clear on exactly which dictionary or dictionaries I'm complaining about and who publishes them.

PS: There's also the Oxford Dictionary of Current English. I haven't figured out yet if that's something distinct or another name for one of the ones above.

PPS: I think the OED and these other shoddy dictionaries are all published by Oxford University Press but are the same actual people responsible for them?

PPPS: More confusion to add to the mix:

  • 1
    The Concise Oxford English Dictionary is the OED (which is a many multi-volume edition) printed in two volumes in like 1 pt type, four pages per page. Comes with a very necessary magnifying glass. I can't remember if it is abridged or not. – Mitch May 26 at 1:33

There's an answer on the meta site (about not citing Google as a dictionary) that helps clarify the confusing situation with OED vs ODE etc: https://english.meta.stackexchange.com/a/11484/8015


The ODE is a large single-volume dictionary which gives very good coverage of Present-Day English, including many examples taken from the corpus Oxford used to assemble the dictionary. The NOAD is a version of this dictionary, not quite as good, which focuses on American English. The ODE and NOAD are not called by these names online; instead, they've been rebranded as Oxford Dictionaries, or Oxford Living Dictionaries.

Whatever you call them, it's confusing. The OED is a very different dictionary – a large multi-volume historical dictionary, not specifically focused on Present-Day English – but the acronym is very similar to ODE, so they're easily confused. And the "Oxford Dictionaries" name is likewise confusing, as the OED is the most well-known Oxford dictionary, but it isn't available at the Oxford Dictionaries website.

So it's a bit of a mess.

Update: And I found an answer on the /r/kindle Subreddit (apparently Kindle also uses these crappy dictionaries!) about the difference between NOAD and ODE:

There are no major differences. The New Oxford American Dictionary (NOAD) is a substantial revision of the Oxford Dictionary of English (ODE, which is a British English dictionary). The biggest change for most users is that ODE uses the IPA system to give word pronunciations (this is the standard in linguistics for accurately representing speech sounds), while NOAD uses a re-spelling system, which is simpler to read and more commonly found in American dictionaries. ODE was revised for NOAD, with some spelling changes, new words found only in the US, and (rarely) some changes in the order of entries for the American market. Both have been revised at least two times for various new editions to keep them up to date.

The only reason to pick one over the other is to choose between an American and British English dictionary.

  • Following the information at their site, Oxford Dictionaries seems to include the OED and what you get from a google search. So I'm now rethinking what I usually say is that the only thing the two have in common is the name of the town of Oxford in their labels. – Mitch Jun 3 at 15:28
  • Ugh, yeah, it's so confusing. I think "ODE/NOAD" or "OxfordDictionaries.com" or "Oxford Living Dictionaries" all work as terms for what Google/Apple/Microsoft/Amazon have licensed. Unfortunately they themselves use "Oxford Dictionaries" to mean "Oxford dictionaries other than the OED". E.g., Bing's "powered by Oxford Dictionaries" byline. – dreeves Jun 4 at 16:11

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