The Oxford English Dictionary (OED) online is the most comprehensive of all English language dictionaries. This tutorial will walk you through the process of finding and analyzing words and phrases in the OED.
Using the page to your right, select Oxford English Dictionary online.
You may be prompted to enter your UA NetID and password.
You are now in the Oxford English Dictionary.
Use the arrows below to navigate through the tutorial.
You are arguing with a friend about whether "wildcat" is one word or two. In the Quick search box, type wildcat and select Go. You should retrieve two results.
Is it wildcat or wild cat?
Notice that the first entry lists 1400 as a date and the second lists 1418. These are the oldest known records of the words in writing in English.
Since you are interested in the oldest record, select the first result to open the full entry.
You should see the definition as well as three examples of written usage of the term, "wild cat." What is the quote from 1400?
What is the name of the source material?
You want to learn more about "wild cat," so use your browser's back button to go back one page to the list of results. Select the second result, which is the official entry for wild cat, n.
What languages are listed as having words that compare to the English "wild cat?"
Go to the Quick search box at the top of the page and type mall then select Go.
You should see two results. Notice the blue bar underneath the entries. If you hover over the blue bar, you will see a pop-up that says sense 1 of 13 or sense 1 of 1. This means that the first entry has 13 senses, or meanings. The second just has one.
Select the second entry for mall, n.
Notice the cross symbol to the left of the term. This means the word (or this use of the word) is now obsolete. What is the obsolete usage?
Notice there are several different pronunciations.
"Brit." means British pronunciation.
"U.S." means United States pronunciation.
The pronunciations are explained using an IPA transcription. What is IPA?
Select each transcription to see an explanation of the pronunciation.
How many U.S. pronunciations are listed?
I. Senses deriving from the place that pall-mall was played.
II. Senses deriving from the mallet used in the game.
Look for the first definition under the first roman numeral.
What is the original meaning of the word "mall"?
You are not a big fan of Tucson in the summer, although you love the monsoon. Now you are curious about the history of the word "desert."
Go back to the OED homepage.
Select Historical Thesaurus. This feature is a semantic index to the contents of the OED. It allows you to learn more about meanings of terms by seeing how they fit within broader categories. This can lead you to related terms and tell you more about the history of a particular category or meaning.
You should retrieve 23 results. This means there are 23 thesaurus classes that include the word "desert."
What is a class?
Select the first result. You should now see a tree of classes.
"Desert" is listed under:
the external world > the earth > land > landscape > wild or uncultivated land > noun.
Notice the list of terms with their senses (definitions) to the right of the tree of classes.
How many senses belong to this same class (wild or uncultivated land > noun)?
Which sense (within this class) came first?
How many senses belong to this class?
What are two of the subcategories for "barren land or desert?"
Select the red Categories link.
Under Usage, hover over colloquial and slang then select university slang.
You should now see over 170 results that are considered university slang.
Notice the ability to Refine Your Search. Select Date of First Citation and 1400-1499.
What is the oldest term considered university slang?
What is the definition of the term "people" in the university slang sense?
What are the spellings of "people" from the oldest two quotations listed under this sense?
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