The Meaning of Everything: The Story of the Oxford English Dictionary

The Meaning of Everything: The Story of the Oxford English Dictionary

The Meaning of Everything: The Story of the Oxford English Dictionary

The Meaning of Everything: The Story of the Oxford English Dictionary

From the best-selling author of The Professor and the Madman, The Map That Changed the World, and Krakatoa comes a truly wonderful celebration of the English language and of its unrivaled treasure house, the Oxford English Dictionary.
Writing with marvelous brio, Winchester first serves up a lightning history of the English language–“so vast, so sprawling, so wonderfully unwieldy”–and pays homage to the great dictionary makers, from “the irredeemably famous” Samuel Johnson to the “sh

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3 thoughts on “The Meaning of Everything: The Story of the Oxford English Dictionary”

  • 1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
    5.0 out of 5 stars
    Information, Interesting, Powerful Read, November 14, 2013
    By 
    Lee W

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    Utterly fantastic, utterly engrossing, one of the best books I’ve ever read. One of the best of Simon Winchester’s books and I’ve read most of them. I found the book riveting and it is wonderful when history can be brought to life in such a vibrant way. I read it on the Kindle Touch and it was fantastic to press so many words to check their meanings via the OED. Winchester’s insight into how a dictionary is created and the time and involvement that were required to create the Oxford English Dictionary was fascinating. The character development of so many important people involved in the production of the first OED made the story very immediate and for anyone who loves the English language I reckon this book is a must.
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  • 1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
    3.0 out of 5 stars
    Not Winchester’s best Book, July 11, 2012
    By 
    Brad Allen (Redmond, WA) –

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    Simon Winchester did an incredible job in The Map That Changed the World: William Smith and the Birth of Modern Geology (P.S.) of using a lively narrative to educate us on the relevance of a formerly unknown historical event. The Meaning of Everything seems to promise the same thing but ultimately did not deliver. I enjoyed the book and learned plenty about the Oxford English Dictionary and, for that matter, the English Language but it certainly was not as engaging as Winchester’s other books.

    The story of the Oxford English Dictionary is certainly unique. In many ways the approach, asking thousands of people to read books and submit quotes over a period of years, is far before its time and is right along the line of the crowd-sourcing now being used for things like Wikipedia. The story presents some interesting lessons on what to expect from the human nature of people involved in this sort of venture and is worth reading for that aspect alone.

    In the end, it just seemed that there was not quite enough material to make this story as interesting as it could have been. I learned something, but was not inspired. I would definitely recommend The Map that Changed the World and Krakatoa over this book.

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  • 1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
    5.0 out of 5 stars
    Oh, I say!, September 22, 2015
    By 
    M. Cotone (Las Cruces NM) –

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    An utter delight, if you love languages and linguistics and the often quirky personalities and strange behaviors of the uncommonly intelligent and life-long academic. If you don’t find fascinating the study of the first nor yourself readily bemused by the second, you probably won’t enjoy this book. Simply, it is the story of the conception and completion of what was and is, in all likelihood, the greatest lexicographical project ever undertaken and of the uncommon individuals who played major roles in it. I found it utterly fascinating and, at times, roll-on-the-floor funny, all told in style and tone perfectly suited to the tale. Well and delightfully done, Winchester!
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