It was first published 126 years ago and is respected the world over.
But the Oxford English Dictionary will never appear in print again, its owners have announced.
Instead, the 80 lexicographers who have been working on the third edition for the past 21 years have been told the fruits of their labour will exist solely online.
The OED has been available on the internet for the past ten years and receives two million hits a month from subscribers who pay £205 a year, plus VAT, to access it.
Oxford University Press says the dominance of the internet means the latest update to the definitive record of the English language - currently 28 per cent complete - will never be published in print.
'The print dictionary market is just disappearing - it is falling away by tens of per cent a year,' said Nigel Portwood, 44, chief executive of OUP.
'Our primary purpose - and this takes a bit of adjusting to - is not profit, it is the dissemination of knowledge,' he said.
'Print is still pretty important round here but, wherever possible, if there is an opportunity, we are moving out of it.'
The printed dictionary has a shelf life of another 30 years, he predicts.
The third edition is only expected to be completed by 2037. The OUP has already stopped producing illustrated reference books because of the growing popularity of the Wikipedia website.
Erin McKean, co-founder and chief executive of Wordnik, an online dictionary, said: 'I want my young son to think of the print dictionary like an eight-track tape - a format that died because it was not useful enough.'
2010-08-31 19:08 编辑：kuaileyingyu
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