Browse the dictionary Browse the dictionary from A-Z, explore using the word wheel, or search the dictionary by performing a quick search or advanced search.
The Browse panel is in the centre of the Home page and in the top right-hand corner of every other page. To browse the A-Z dictionary entries, much as you would a printed dictionary: A list of entries beginning with A, n.
To view an entry from the list, click on its headword. The standard number of results is 20 per page, but you can alter this up to a maximum of by clicking one of the Items per page options.
Word wheel You can also browse the entries using the word wheel. It always opens with the most recently viewed entry highlighted in the centre of the list. Click on any entry to display it. Browse the word wheel: A page at a time using arrows at the top and bottom of the list By typing the first few letters of the word you want into the input box above the list.
The wheel will move to the closest match keyed in. Searching the OED using the Quick Search The quick search finds main dictionary entries, such as alphabet, break, xylophone. It also finds phrases and compounds listed within main entries, such as to look up or alphabet book, and variant spellings such as dictionarie.
The Quick search box is in the centre left of the Home page and at the top of every other page of the dictionary.
In a Quick search, it is not necessary to type punctuation or worry about special characters, accents, hyphens, or capital letters. However, if you do want to take case into account, use the Advanced search and click the Case-sensitive checkbox.
When the box is checked the search term Conservative finds only Conservative. It is also best to use the Advanced search if you want to find a specific accented or hyphenated term. Running a Quick search Type or paste the word you want to find in the Search box. If there is one result for your search, the entry opens automatically.
If there is more than one result, a Results list is displayed. Each of the results consists of a headword and an excerpt from the first definition of the entry or subentry. Click on any of the headwords in the list to open its entry. If there are no matching results, you are offered a list of closest matches alphabetically. Wildcard searching A quick search will find your term if it is a main entry, subentry, or variant spelling. The quick search will not recognize a misspelling.
If you do not know how to spell a word, you can use a wildcard character in your search. A wildcard is a symbol which stands for any character. Two wildcards are available. A search with a wildcard retrieves all results which contain matching terms. Wildcards are useful if you do not know how to spell a word, if you are not sure in what form the term you want appears in the dictionary, or if you want to find several terms beginning with the same root.
The results are displayed as a graph illustrating their usage by century. Move the cursor over a bar to view the results for that time period, and follow the link back to the results if you wish. Widening your search The results of a Quick search are main entries.
Click on any of the text areas e. There are two ways to refine your results: You can narrow down your results to only those matching a specific part of speech, subject, date, etc. It finds your term wherever it occurs in the dictionary. An Advanced search also allows you to search for words that occur near one another, such as bread before butter. It is not necessary to type punctuation or worry about special characters, accents, hyphens, or capital letters.
However, if you do want to take case into account, click the Case-sensitive checkbox. If you want to find a specific accented or hyphenated term, enter it into the search box and make sure Exact characters is checked. You can enter special characters using the character palette just below the input box. Open the palette by clicking on it. Then click on any of the letters to paste it into the search box. Special characters can also be pasted into the input box via Character Map, using the keyboard equivalents given in Character Map, by typing the Unicode characters, using Alt key codes, via a regional keyboard, or by pasting them into the input box from another source.
Open the Advanced search page by clicking Advanced search under the Search box at the top of the page or in the centre of the Home page. Type the word or phrase you want to find into the main search box at the top of the page. The results are displayed in the Results list. A message is displayed if there are no results.
You can build on this basic search procedure in the ways outlined below. Choosing the scope of your search The scope determines the kind of results you get from a search. By default, your results are returned by entry, just as in a Quick search. But a typical entry is divided into senses and for each of the senses there are usually a number of quotations. In an Advanced search you also have the option to return your results by sense or by quotations.
You choose the scope of your search using the tabs marked Entries, Senses, and Quotations at the top of the Advanced search panel. When this is selected, your search returns a list of entries. For example, a search for headache lists all the entries which contain this word. A search for headache lists all the senses which contain this word. A search for headache lists all the quotations which contain this word.
Choosing your search area This is the type of dictionary text you choose to search in an Advanced search. You choose your search area from the list box on the right of the search box, which is headed Full Text.
When you look at a typical entry you will see that it is divided into different sections. In addition to the main definition text for each of the senses of the entry, there is often information on variant spellings, etymology, quotations, etc. By default, an Advanced search searches the entire text of the entries, but you can confine your search area to a number of other areas, if you prefer. Click on the Full text list box and make your choice from the list. Full text is the entire text of all the entries in the dictionary.
It includes the entry names as well as spellings, definitions, etymologies, and quotations. A search on the full text of the dictionary is the broadest possible search. Headword confines your search to the main titles of entries.
Lemma restricts your search to compounds and phrases which appear within the entries. A search for color finds this as a variant spelling, for example, in the entries choler, colour, hypercolour, and versicolour.
Definitions searches the area of the text which contains all the defined senses or meanings of the entry. There is a definition for every sense of the entry.
For example, the definition of the entry marble, n. Etymology searches the text which contains information on the origin of the word. Etymology — Language searches language names only e. Etymology — Cited Form searches the cited word form only e. Labels are used to give brief information, usually in abbreviated form, on the context in which that term is used. Biology, Chemistry, Music , the status or level of language to which it belongs e. Quotations are the examples from print and manuscript sources which illustrate each sense of an entry.
Quotations are shown by default but you have the option to hide them. There are usually quotations for every sense of the headword. You can choose to search all quotations or confine your search to the text of the first quotation in a sense, i.
Choose the appropriate option from the list. Using filters A filter enables you to narrow your search to entries which match a particular criterion e. Two or more filters may be combined in a search. Filters may be combined with search terms, but you can also search on the basis of a filter alone. Choose a filter from the list by clicking on it. Alternatively, if you know the name of the filter, begin typing it directly into the input box.
An autocomplete prompt will appear to help you key in the filter in the correct form. Type your chosen date into the input box. You can type in a single date for example, , a range of dates using the format , for example , or an open date range.
To restrict your results to current or obsolete entries or senses only, check the appropriate box. All parts of speech are selected by default.
Choose an option from the drop-down menu to select a specific part of speech e. Restrict to entry letter or range: Use this option to restrict your search to entries with beginning with a particular letter or matching a specific wildcarded string e.