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Download The Meaning of Everything: The Story of the Oxford English Dictionary Audiobook (Unabridged)

Extended Audio Sample The Meaning of Everything: The Story of the Oxford English Dictionary (Unabridged) Audiobook, by Simon Winchester
3.63 out of 53.63 out of 53.63 out of 53.63 out of 53.63 out of 5 3.63 (38 ratings) (rate this audio book) Author: Simon Winchester Narrator: Simon Winchester Publisher: HarperAudio Format: Unabridged Audiobook Delivery: Instant Download Audio Length: Release Date: January 2004 ISBN:
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Writing with marvelous brio, Simon Winchester first serves up a lightning history of the English language and pays homage to the great dictionary makers from Samuel Johnson to Noah Webster before turning his unmatched talent for storytelling to the making of the most venerable of dictionaries: The Oxford English Dictionary. Here the listener is presented with lively portraits of such key figures as the brilliant but sickly first editor Herbert Coleridge, the colorful, wildly eccentric Frederick Furnivall, and the incomparable James Augustus Henry Murray, who spent half a century as editor bringing the project to fruition. Winchester lovingly describes the minutiae of dictionary making, brings us to visit the unseemly corrugated iron shed that Murray grandly dubbed The Scriptorium, and introduces some of the legion of volunteers, from Fitzedward Hall, a bitter hermit obsessively devoted to the OED, to the murderous W. C. Minor, whose story is one of dangerous madness, ineluctable sadness, and ultimate redemption.

The Meaning of Everything is a scintillating account of the creation of the greatest monument erected to a living language.

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Listener Opinions

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Annette Abbott | 2/14/2014

    " Who knew a biography of a dictionary could be so funny and interesting?! I love Simon's books, but I must say that this is probably my favourite. Having worked for Cambridge University Press and Macmillan Publishers, I found all the references to the great English publishing houses delightful. Upon finishing this book, I found I wanted to know more about the OED editor, James Murray and, as a result, immediately placed an order for his biography (written by his granddaughter) "Caught in the Web of Words." "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Jimmie | 2/11/2014

    " Got my first dictionary when i was 16 years old. Been in love with words ever since. Fascinating story "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Maura | 2/6/2014

    " i find it simply mindboggling that they managed to put together something like the OED without the use of a computer. We're talking millions of slips of paper sorted in little cubbyholes. it's ridiculous -- and yet they did it. ok, so it took almost as long as it did for the Red Sox to win a World Series. but they did it. i find that fascinating, and thus i'm the perfect audience for this book. the author has a very engaging style, so something that could have been very dry actually turns out to be a good story. i give it a thumbs up. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Libby | 2/5/2014

    " Simon Winchester never fails to both entertain and educate his readers. This volume is an exemplar of his style, taking a subject which might seem dull and dry, and making it compelling and amusing. If you are fascinated by words, the Oxford English Dictionary is the primo word feast. This book unfolds the unusual story behind the the world's most amazing collection of words in a clear and stylish fashion. It has academic slugfests, bizarre characters and story twists worthy of pulp fiction, all having taken place in the correct and mannered world of British academia. I really enjoyed this one and I think you will, too. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Alli | 1/27/2014

    " A must read for any sassy sesquipedalian "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Corey | 1/20/2014

    " This book was equal part entertaining and intelligent while still being an easy summer read. While it purports to be a history of the OED, Simon Winchester spends most of the book focused on the legendary James Murray and glosses over most of the OED's tale once it hits the 20th century, demoting it to the epilogue. Happily, the years when Sir James served as editor of the OED are its truly formative years so the focus is, I suppose, warranted. As Winchester puts it when writing about a review of an early volume of the OED, it "managed to be admiring and yet neither slavish nor sycophantic in its admiration." Winchester accomplishes the same thing, obviously enamored of his subject but not to the point of gushing. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Kyla | 1/18/2014

    " This book covers a lot of interesting facts about the creation of the OED (I particularly like the etymologies). However, a collection of facts does not a cohesive, entertaining narrative make. After all is said and done, the best I can give this book is a shrug and a "meh." "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Jacobi | 1/16/2014

    " A really interesting look at the creation of the OED. Winchester seems to excel at finding the little chunks of history, that are so fascinating, they almost read like fiction. It's a great way to make history digestible for a rube like me. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Leah | 1/6/2014

    " It you're interested in etymology or ever wondered how they put the Oxford English Dictionary together then read this. It was quite a feat and it's quite a story! "

  • 1 out of 51 out of 51 out of 51 out of 51 out of 5 Rael | 12/2/2013

    " While I was very much looking forward to this read, I'm afraid I found it rather flatter than I'd anticipated. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Treasure | 11/22/2013

    " Not as good as the other Winchester book on the OED (they overlap a lot), but still good and nerdy! "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Phuong | 11/7/2013

    " I thoroughly enjoyed learning about the making of the OED. If you don't know what "OED" stands for, you should read the book. It's only one of the biggest (if not the biggest) accomplishments of the English language, in my opinion. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Peter | 10/18/2013

    " If you love the English language and, like me, experience words as living beings, this is a wonderful read. Needless to say, Simon Winchester is a glorious writer. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Karen Aleta | 10/17/2013

    " Amazing story about how the Oxford English Dictionary came to be. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Barry | 9/27/2013

    " Simon Winchester's wonderful book on the making of the most venerable authority on the English language is a delightful story. I have enjoyed both the hard copy and the CD read by the author. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Jacob | 9/15/2013

    " A nice synopsis on the origins of the English language. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Wylz | 7/22/2013

    " Excellent, as usual, from WInchester. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Jill | 4/18/2013

    " This book is an easy read with a sense of humour. It is full of fascinating information and gives an idea of the enormous scope of the English language and its history. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Lori | 3/30/2013

    " A must-read for all lovers of the English language. It's more than you'd ever want to know, but the personalities and process involved in the greatest language project in human history make a captivating story. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Sara S. | 9/27/2012

    " Eloquent fun for fans of lexicography; packed with quirky lore regarding the particularly challenging letters of the alphabet and the eccentric volunteers who helped make the project a reality. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Chelsea | 9/15/2012

    " A MUST for anyone with a love of words. Probably dreadfully dull for others. :P "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Andreia | 8/8/2012

    " Not as insightful as 'The story of English" "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Debbi | 1/24/2012

    " While I didn't quite like this book quite as much as The Professor and the Madman, I did find it to be a quick read with lots of interesting tidbits of information about the OED and its makers. I would probably give it 3.5 stars rather than just 3. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Sheyda | 12/14/2011

    " Winchester is a brilliant writer with an amazing eye for archival detail. "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Scott | 7/19/2011

    " Abandoned halfway through. Solid, well-told, but snoozy. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Annette | 6/1/2011

    " Plain old fun to read. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Anna | 5/19/2011

    " Who knew that a book about the creation of a dictionary could be so fascinating? I could not put this book down. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Jason | 5/16/2011

    " A bittersweets story of how a paranoid schizophrenic, convicted of murder and condemned to an insane asylum, finds solace by taking part in the greatest English literary achievement to date. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Libby | 5/13/2011

    " What a great book! I had forgotten all about it I read it so long ago. Must go find and reread! "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Deepti | 5/12/2011

    " Nice weaving of history, facts, and fiction all in one. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Karen | 5/8/2011

    " A truly weird tale about the making of the Oxford Dictionary. I enjoyed it immensely. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Marissa | 5/8/2011

    " "He was mad, and for that, we have reason to be glad." Unless you're the wife or one of the 7 children of the man he killed that is. "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Melissa | 5/7/2011

    " The book was an interesting story, but I found it quite boring. "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Jennifer | 5/6/2011

    " The parts that were really amazing had to compete with the parts that were simply pretentious. Pity. "

  • 1 out of 51 out of 51 out of 51 out of 51 out of 5 Miriam | 5/3/2011

    " Couldn't get through it. So boring. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Diah | 4/28/2011

    " I'm a lingo junkie so I really liked this book. Lotsof interesting detail, simply superb :) "

  • 1 out of 51 out of 51 out of 51 out of 51 out of 5 Leah | 4/28/2011

    " The book was exceedingly hard to get into and and abnormally slow. It was not as informative as one might think. I would no recommended this book. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Tim | 4/24/2011

    " Read this book a second time after reading it the first time in 2004. A good book that gives you a deep appreciation of the work and effort that went into the making of the OED. "

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About the Author
Author Simon Winchester

Simon Winchester is the acclaimed author of many books, including The Professor and the Madman, The Man Who Loved China, A Crack in the Edge of the World, and Krakatoa—all of which were New York Times bestsellers and appeared on numerous best and notable lists. In 2006 Winchester was made an officer of the Order of the British Empire by her Majesty the Queen. He lives in Manhattan and in western Massachusetts.