“OED’s Poetic Acquaintances” – Slides

Here are my slides from the very good Poetry and the Dictionary symposium last weekend at St Peter’s College, Oxford.

Slides: “OED’s Poetic Acquaintances”

For anyone not at the conference, the slides may be difficult to interpret. I’d be happy to provide context over email, and provide higher quality images [depending on your version of acrobat, the first graph may be so compressed it hardly looks like the one above].

Also, if you’d like to use any information presented here, or if you have a query about the OED and poetry, or the project, please contact me somehow.



  • Does this mean that contemporary poetry is basically no longer cited in the dictionary? Or am I completely misreading this?

  • D-AW wrote:

    You’re reading it right, but it’s probably more accurate to say that, as a % of total quotations from between 1938 and 1988, poetic quotations gradually decline towards zero. However, my data after 1888 is relatively sketchy (see the increasing grey area), and the way the quotes were tagged may exacerbate the effect, so things may not be as dramatic as all that.

  • Thanks for the caveat but that’s still depressing.

  • Gord Higginson wrote:

    This is amazing! It makes me want to take a closer look at my OED, but I just have the old Compact first edition with a magnifying glass. The 2nd ed. on cd-rom is $375, but the Historical Thesaurus (at $495) beckons strongly too…Thank you for the information.

  • D-AW wrote:

    Don’t forget the OED online (which is still a large part OED2, but is being revised comprehensively one entry at a time). You should be able to access it from the UW network. And the historical thesaurus is integrated.

  • Gord Higginson wrote:

    Thank you. You just saved me $870!