Skip to content

On the OED and Subscriptions

My original intention was to offer to send you information from the Oxford English Dictionary for words you'd like to know more about. The subscription is $295 and most people aren't interested in paying that or aren't able to, and I'm happy to share my subscription.

Then I read this.

Now, I wasn't going to give out my user name and password; I was simply going to do some research for you. I'll find out whether of not that's okay (and by the way I did this last year and didn't wonder about the ethical issue . . . oops). I don't see why it shouldn't be a problem on a small, personal basis. I'm guessing scale is where problems might arise.

So think about which words you'd like to know the history of, and I'm happy to oblige as long as that's allowable. You can e-mail me at

2 Comments Post a comment
  1. Scu #

    First of all, let me say this is a kind and I feel very useful offer. Secondly, the article you linked to doesn't make any ethical claims, merely legal claims. I am not sure about the legal issues involved, but I think that helping people have access to words, which come from all of us, is not unethical. As a matter of fact, turning words into property that can only be owned by some seems to the unethical position.
    Just wanted to say, I think what you are doing is great.

    February 2, 2009
  2. Scu,
    I wish it were a matter of access to words, but to the OED it could be more about access to their product.I don't think the OED is turning words into property so much as charging for the work it takes to compile the details of the history of the words. I'll let you know as soon as I hear back from them. And by the way The Professor and the Madman is an amazing book about the beginnings of the OED and I highly recommend it: It makes you appreciate the OED.

    February 2, 2009

Leave a Reply

You may use basic HTML in your comments. Your email address will not be published.

Subscribe to this comment feed via RSS