Compact or Shorter OED?

My wife wants a really, really good dictionary for Christmas. That’s one of the reasons I love her.

Unfortunately, for space and cost reasons, a full OED is completely out of the question. However, both the photoreduced Compact OED and the abridged Shorter OED are eminently reasonable.

I’m leaning toward the Compact, mostly because of the cool factor, but I’m a bit worried about the practicality. Do any of you own one? Is it actually useful?

I have a Compact, and it’s pretty cool. But I tend to only drag it out when I need to; it’s not exactly a convenient pocket dictionary.

Your public library may allow home access to the online OED. If so, a complementary dictionary might be a better idea.

I have the compact and it’s very useful. I like it and recommend it. But I need a powerful magnifier to read it. It is amazing that they were able to print in such small type. The two bound books are large and heavy but manageable. They seem well constructed. I don’t use it that often, but have used it in the last couple of months. I’ve had them 20 or so years.

When I bought my Compact OED about 30 years ago, I didn’t wear glasses and could read that tiny type without the magnifier. Just the other day I used it for the first time in many years, and I was dismayed to find that I now need my reading glasses and the magnifier. :eek:

I still love my Compact OED, though.

We had a 1970s era Compact OED when I was a kid. tres cool.

But it was not real useful even for a book nut. Ultimately, it was superb if you really cared about 16th century etymology trivia and late 19th/early 20th century British usage. But for a late 20th century American it was authoritatively wrong on so much current usage as to be a hindrance. Fully 50% of the entries were for words even an erudite American will never see, hear, nor use.

As a teen I had no trouble reading the text w/o magnification as long as the light was strong; my experience would doubtless be different now.

If you haven’t actually used one, I strongly suggest you find a library with one & critically evaluate both the content & the type size. If either of you are book nuts, once you buy it you’ll be unable to part with it even if it’s all but useless to you; religious icons are like that. Another 30 lb boat anchor is not what you need cluttering your already-crowded shelves.

OTOH, I note that MSRP is $400, Amazon has them new for $250, but used down to about $100. That’s a pretty good markdown. At least for me, $100-$150 for an intellectual status symbol / curiosity satisfier is reasonable.

I own four dictionaries (down from seven at one time), but my compact OED is the only one that has a place right here on my desk. We have a rather old edition of the shorter OED at work but I think I’ve used it less than 5 times in 6 years.

I love my compact OED, but I’m a dork like that.

I can still read it without magnification, although I imagine in ten years or so I’ll no longer be able to say that.

The one I have is the two volume edition with four micro pages per page. The newer version has one volume with nine pages per page, which I imagine is a bit smaller type (the book itself is bigger).

The Compact is great. I’ve also seen the abridged, and the Compact is definitely the one to get.

I’ll echo this suggestion.