*Subject HeadingsStandardized words or phrases assigned to a subject (e.g., etiquette not manners). Library subject headings are similar to tags. We attach these special terms to library catalog records in order to describe the intellectual content of an item more precisely. Subject terms are categories of information; click on one and you'll retrieve a list of similarly tagged items. Allows books on a similar subject to be grouped together in the book stacks.
Use Library of Congress Subject Headings* in the Library Catalog in CATQuest.
Examples of Library of Congress subject headings for the English language:
english language history
english language lexicography
english language dictionaries
english language slang dictionaries
NOTE: to find pre-20th century English-language and slang dictionaries, see these other English & American Literature subject guides: 19th century and Medieval-18th century.
Print: REF PE 1625 .O87 1989 (20 vols) and REF PE 1625 .O92 1993 (3 vols)
The "OED," originally called New English Dictionary on Historical Principles [REF PE 1625 .N53 1888, 10 vols], is the definitive guide to the meaning, history, and pronunciation of over half a million words, tracing the usage of words from across the English-speaking world through quotations from international English language sources. Its intention was to record every word used in English since 1150 and trace it back through all its shifting meanings, spellings and uses to its earliest recorded appearance, plus at least one citation for each century of its existence. As a historical dictionary, the OED is very different from Dictionaries of current English, in which the focus is on present-day meanings. You’ll find present-day meanings in the OED, but also the history of individual words, and of the language.
The online version can be searched in a variety of ways: by word; phrase; definition; etymology; by author of the quotations which shows how the use of a word has changed over time. It is not exhaustive in its coverage of standard vocabulary and is limited in its treatment of slang, dialect, scientific, and technical terms, so other dictionaries should be used as well.
The Making of the Oxford English Dictionary by Peter Gilliver
Call Number: PE 1611 .G55 2016 (3rd floor)
This book tells the history of the Oxford English Dictionary from its beginnings in the middle of the nineteenth century to the present. The author is also a practising lexicographer with nearly thirty years' experience of working on the Dictionary.
See also: Lost for Words by Lynda Mugglestone. PE 1617.O94 M84 2005 (3rd floor). Caught in the Web of Words: James A. H. Murray and the Oxford English Dictionary by K. M. Elisabeth Murray. PE 64 .M8 M78 (3rd floor). The Professor and the Madman by Simon Winchester. PE 1617 .O94 W56 1999 (3rd floor).
DSL brings together the two major historical dictionaries of the Scots language:
A Dictionary of the Older Scottish Tongue (DOST) Older Scots - 12th century - 1700 and The Scottish National Dictionary (SND)
Modern Scots - 1700 - 2005.
The English Dialect Dictionary by Ed. by Joseph Wright
Call Number: REF PE 1766 .W8 (6 vols)
Publication Date: 1898-1905
"...being the complete vocabulary of all dialect words still in use, or known to have been in use during the last two hundred years; founded on the publications of the English dialect society and on a large amount of material never before printed."
Howe Library Reference (1st Floor) ; PE2843 .D52 1985
Focuses on the regional aspects of American English, documenting words, phrases, and pronunciations that vary from one place to another. This online version provides interactive maps, audio field recordings, and fielded searching.
This is the "OED" of slang, tracing the usage of slang terms over five centuries in all English-speaking regions of the world. Over 100,00 terms are defined, with each word authenticated by genuine and full-referenced citations of its use. Emphasis is on etymology.
The New Partridge Dictionary of Slang and Unconventional English
Call Number: REF PE 3721 .P3 2012 (2 vols)
Details the slang and unconventional English of the English-speaking regions of the world since 1945. Over 60,000 terms are defined, with an emphasis on post-World War II slang and unconventional English.
Drawing on the OED, covers over 6,000 slang words and expressions of the English-speaking regions of the world from the 20th and 21st centuries. Provides illustrative quotations and full details of origins and dates of first printed use.
Allusions: forms an extension to the English language, drawing on our collective knowledge of literature, mythology, and the Bible to give us a literary shorthand for describing people, places, and events, e.g. thought police, thirty pieces of silver, etc.
Provide a full and authoritative account of the history of the English language throughout the world, from its beginnings to the present. Lengthy essays are written by eminent scholars and conclude with suggestions for further reading. Each volume concludes with a glossary and bibliography.