Oxford English Dictionary

Oxford English Dictionary

This guide will explain how to use the online version of the Oxford English Dictionary (OED).

You can print or download this Oxford English Dictionary helpsheet PDF [647 KB - not accessible].

Help with the Oxford English Dictionary

This guide will explain how to use the online version of the Oxford English Dictionary (OED). The OED is a guide to the meaning, history and pronunciation of 600,000 words – past and present – from the English-speaking world. You can access it in any West Sussex library using the public computers and 24/7 from your personal computer, tablet or smartphone with your library card.

How to use the Oxford English Dictionary

Log in to one of the library computers or type in the library website address https://arena.westsussex.gov.uk/. When the home page appears scroll down and click on the eLibrary tile.

Screenshot image of the West Sussex Libraries website homepage.

This screen appears. Then click on eInformation to view the A-Z of resources.

eInformation tile

Then scroll down and click on Oxford English Dictionary

Screenshot image of the West Sussex Libraries A-Z of eInformation resources page, focusing on Oxford English Dictionary.

Alternatively, type www.oed.com into the address bar at the top of the page of your web browser.

Please note: If you’re not using a library computer, you will need to sign in using your library card number to use all features available. You can still perform a simple search without signing in.

Signing in

Select the Sign in icon sign in icon in the top right of the page.

A screenshot of OED homepage

Under ‘Institutional access’ select Sign in with library card.

 Sign in screen with 'sign in with library card' option circled

In the ‘Find your library’ box, type West Sussex County Library Service and click on it to select.

Sign in window

Enter your library card number in the next box and click on the Log in button to continue. You are now signed in and will return to the main homepage.

Searching for a word

To search for a word, type it into the search box on the homepage. Click on the magnifying glass icon Magnifying glass icon to enter, or select one of the suggested answers to continue.

Search box showing suggested results

Select the term or word you want to explore.

Search results

Navigating the search results

Each word has its own fact file, with various research tools. You can click on each tab to explore the Factsheet, Meaning & Use, Etymology, Pronunciation, Forms, Frequency, and Compounds & derived words.

Please note: if you are not on a library public computer or have not signed in, you will only be able to view the Factsheet page in full. Sign in to view the content on all tabs.

Factsheet page view

To perform a new search, click in the search box in the top right corner.

Search bar

Enter your new search term and click on the magnifying glass icon Magnifying glass icon or select one of the suggested results to continue. You can also carry out an advanced search by clicking on Advanced search instead. This will give you additional search options using the filters on the left-hand side of the results page.

To perform an advanced search, enter your search term into the box on the left side of the page and click update.

Advanced search options

Additional help with OED online

There are lots of useful videos and tutorials on the OED website to help with your research. These can be found by clicking on the ‘i’ icon 'i' icon for additional helpin the top right corner of each page.

Information help page

Other ways we can help you find the information that you need:

Ask a Librarian 

Local Clubs and Societies

Family History 

Local History 


Learning and Research

This guide has been produced by West Sussex County Council Library Service ©2023

Search the catalogue