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, 2019 at 1:33
  • 2
    @Mitch You are thinking of the Compact Oxford English Dictionary 1st Edition (which was replaced in 1991 by the 2nd Edition which is 2 volumes and nine pages per page). These are not abridged.
    – Parakleta
    Aug 19, 2019 at 13:01
  • 2
    I'm voting to close this question as off-topic because it belongs on meta (where it's probably a duplicate). Aug 19, 2019 at 14:46
  • They're all bound with a durable cotton cloth.
    – Hot Licks
    Aug 19, 2019 at 17:21
  • 2
    I’m voting to close this question because it's asking about constitution of establishments, not English. Jul 6, 2021 at 10:35

2 Answers 2


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, 2019 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, 2019 at 16:11

There are two main streams of the Oxford University Press dictionaries (not including the country specific variants), and way too many variants of the dictionaries with too similar names (that even changed across editions to add to the confusion).

The Oxford English Dictionary series is aimed more at the historical use of the English language with words dating back to the 18th century (and earlier for selected literary uses such as Shakespeare and the Bible) and many example quotations. This series contains the following variants:

  1. Oxford English Dictionary 2nd Edition (1989), which is 21,728 pages across 20 volumes, 6ft long, and weighs approximately 60Kg. It is big. You just won't believe how vastly, hugely, mind-bogglingly big it is.
  2. Compact Oxford English Dictionary 2nd Edition (1991), which is the same content as the OED but reduced to hold nine pages per page in one volume of 2402 physical pages.
  3. Shorter Oxford English Dictionary 6th Edition (2007), which is effectively an abridged version at 3804 pages across two volumes. It contains 600,000 entries and 80,000 quotations.

The Oxford Dictionary of English series focuses more on the contemporary and practical uses of the English language. This series contains the following variants:

  1. Oxford Dictionary of English 3rd Edition (2010), containing 355,000 entries on 2112 pages. This version also contains around 11,000 encyclopaedic entries.
  2. Concise Oxford English Dictionary 12th Edition (2011), with 240,000 entries on 1728 pages. This is currently the official UN and NATO international English dictionary.
  3. Compact Oxford English Dictionary of Current English 3rd Edition (2008), containing 150,000 entries on 1264 pages. This contains additional information on English usage including grammar and a guide to correspondence.
  4. Pocket Oxford English Dictionary 11th Edition (2013), containing 120,000 words on 1104 pages.
  5. Paperback Oxford English Dictionary 7th Edition (2012), containing 120,000 entries on 1024 pages. This version has a "factfinder" section with famous people, countries, and scientific information.
  6. Colour Oxford English Dictionary 3rd Edition (2011), containing over 90,000 entries on 848 pages. This version contains additional information on spelling, punctuation, and grammar.
  7. Little Oxford English Dictionary 9th Edition (2006), containing 90,000 entries on 848 pages. This version also contains a "factfinder" section.
  8. Oxford English Mini Dictionary 8th Edition (2013), containing 90,000 words on 672 pages.

Regarding the online Oxford dictionaries, these are largely based on this second series although with subscription fees you can access the first series, though free access is often available through local public library systems in the UK and US (with a library ID).

  • 'Shorter Oxford English Dictionary 6th Edition (2007), which is effectively an abridged version at 3804 pages across two volumes. It contains 600,000 entries and 80,000 quotations.' Doesn't the final sentence refer to the OED proper? // Thanks for this, but is there a reference you can link to to show where this originates? Aug 19, 2019 at 14:49
  • No, the OED proper has something like 2.4 million quotations. Regarding entries these are lumped together in all of the other dictionaries but itemised for the OED proper and I couldn't be bothered adding them up.
    – Parakleta
    Aug 19, 2019 at 14:51
  • I don't have a useful link to give for this information, I've been researching for the last 5 hours and these are the notes I had assembled across multiple sources. The most useful information I have found has come from Wikipedia and the Oxford University Press Academic and Australian online stores.
    – Parakleta
    Aug 19, 2019 at 15:00
  • Excellent answer - to extend: 1) Can you comment on the online versions of these (and where lexico fits in)? 2) And can you comment on the source material for the two different series - are the definitions in one thread derived/taken from the other?
    – Mitch
    Aug 19, 2019 at 15:00
  • I've found 'Shorter Oxford English Dictionary Sixth Edition On 21 September 2007, the Sixth Edition appeared. The dictionary now includes 600,000 words, phrases, and definitions' at www.revolvy.com. Not the same as '650 000 entries', I feel. I've seen a SOED and it doesn't really compare to the full work. Aug 19, 2019 at 15:18

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