An abridgement of the complete work was contemplated from 1879, when the Oxford University Press took over from the Philological Society on what was then known as "A New English Dictionary on Historical Principles". However, no action was taken until 1902, when the work was begun by William Little, a fellow of Corpus Christi College, Oxford. He labored until his demise in 1922, at which point he had completed "A" to "T" and "V". The remaining letters were completed by H.W. Fowler ("U", "X", "Y", and "Z") and Mrs. E.A. Coulson ("W") under the direction of Charles Talbut Onions, who succeeded Little as editor.
Onions wrote the "SOED" was "to present in miniature all the features of the principal work" and to be "a quintessence of those vast materials" in the complete "OED".
The first edition was published in February 1933. It was reprinted in March and April of that year and again in 1934. A second edition appeared in 1936, which was reprinted in 1939. A third edition was published in 1944, reprinted in 1947, 1950, 1952, and, with an addendum of new entries, in 1955. The third edition was published in America under the name "The Oxford Universal Dictionary". A reset version of the third edition, with new addenda and with the etymologies revised by G. W. S. Friedrichsen, was published in 1973.
The whole text was completely revised for the fourth edition, which was published in 1993 as the "New Shorter Oxford English Dictionary" under the editorship of Lesley Brown. This formed the basis for the fifth edition, which appeared in 2002.
The Fifth Edition contains more than half a million definitions, with 83,500 illustrative quotations from 7,000 authors. The book aims to include all English words which had substantial currency after 1700, plus the vocabulary of Shakespeare, Milton, Spenser, and the King James Bible. As a historical dictionary, it includes obsolete words if they are used by major authors and earlier meanings where they explain the development of a word. Headwords are traced back to their earliest usage.
On September 21, 2007 16,000 words lost their hyphens in a 6th edition of the Shorter Oxford English Dictionary. Angus Stevenson, editor of the Shorter OED, stated the reason: "People are not confident about using hyphens anymore, they're not really sure what they are for." Its researchers reviewed 2 billion words (in newspapers, books, Web sites and blogs from 2000). Bumble-bee is now bumblebee, ice-cream is ice cream and pot-belly is pot belly, etc.
Robert Leeson. The Eclipse of Keynesianism. The Political Economy of the Chicago Counter-Revolution.(Book review)
Jun 22, 2003; Robert Leeson. The Eclipse of Keynesianism. The Political Economy of the Chicago Counter-Revolution. Basingstoke and New York:...