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Cornell University

Language Dictionaries Online: A Guide: English

Limited to online full-text language dictionaries, primarily those the Cornell University Library has purchased outright or subscribes to. Click on the TABS to access each section of this guide.

English Language Dictionaries

Merriam-Webster Online Dictionary. (including M-W Collegiate Dictionary and Thesaurus)
The free online equivalent of the print version of this standard college dictionary and thesaurus. Audio pronunciations of all headwords. Site also has Word of the Day feature with the definition, example sentence, audio pronunciation, and word history section. You can subscribe to the e-mail version or just check the site. Current year archived. This site contains advertising.


The Oxford English Dictionary.
The premier historical dictionary of the English language. Entries for each sense of the word are illustrated with quotations from the full extent of written English.
The extensive Help section includes links to the abbreviations used and bibliography of the Second Edition.
"The OED presents in alphabetical series the words that have formed the English vocabulary from the time of the earliest records down to the present day, with all the relevant facts concerning their form, sense-history, pronunciation, and etymology. It embraces not only the standard language of literature and conversation, whether current at the moment, or obsolete, or archaic, but also the main technical vocabulary, and a large measure of dialectical usage and slang. This online edition contains the complete A to Z sequence of the Second Edition, its three-volume Additions Series, and also draft material from the revision programme, which represents the latest progress towards the Third Edition." More about the OED.


Also from Oxford University Press:

New Oxford American Dictionary. 3rd edition. New York: Oxford University Press, 2010.
With more than 350,000 words, phrases, and senses, and hundreds of explanatory notes, this dictionary provides comprehensive and accurate coverage of American English. Based on the two-billion-word Oxford English Corpus and the citation files of the Oxford English Dictionary.


Oxford Dictionary of English. 3rd edition. Edited by Angus Stevenson. New York: Oxford University Press, 2015.
Updated to 2015.


Oxford Reference: English Language Dictionaries 
Collected in one place, online access to Australian Oxford Dictionary, 2nd ed.; Canadian Oxford Dictionary, 2nd ed.; New Oxford American Dictionary, 3rd ed.; The New Zealand Oxford Dictionary; Oxford Dictionary of English, 3rd ed.; and two Oxford English-language thesauri.


For the newest additions to English:

Word Spy
A source of newly coined words, existing words that have been revived, and older words that are being used in new ways. Like the OED, Word Spy provides illustrative quotations of the words cited.

Reference Help

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