I have access to OED through the public library system of the UK and I am aware that others without subscriptions cannot verify my citations.

There is a comment on the second answer to this question in which the commenter makes a page within OED available free of charge. Example: http://www.oed.com/viewdictionaryentry/Entry/171590

How was it done?


2 Answers 2


That would be my comment, so let me explain.

Every single day, the OED has a new Word of the Day that it makes free to the world. Eventually, the whole OED will be free ;)

And in case anyone is wondering whether a subscription to the word of the day means that eventually you will receive all of the dictionary, our calculations show that yes you will – in approximately 753 years, and only if we add nothing in the meantime.

The OED can send you an email daily if you sign up. They also have a Twitter page that tweets links to the Word of the Day. You can also see some Words of the Day illustrated.

You can figure out if a page in the OED is freely available by searching in the top bar, then trying to visit one of the page's other tabs (e.g., "Meaning and use"). You may also be able to use a Google search like this one, which finds say, v.1 and int.: site:oed.com say.

  • 1
    Had I thought there was anything inappropriate about this, I would not have asked the question. This all seems perfectly proper to me.
    – Nigel J
    Commented Mar 7, 2018 at 21:59
  • 4
    @NigelJ There's nothing wrong with the question—I was excited that I could share the wonders of the OED with others with links like that and I'm happy to tell others how to do the same. The OED should be happy for the free promotion :).
    – Laurel Mod
    Commented Mar 7, 2018 at 22:06
  • Since I don't have access to OED3, I've been using OED2 and finding entries by trial-and-error (changing the URL) :) Example: oed.com/oed2/00054
    – Justin
    Commented Jul 2, 2022 at 13:55
  • @Justin Interesting, that doesn't show up in Google. Have you been incrementing the number or what?
    – Laurel Mod
    Commented Jul 2, 2022 at 14:01
  • Yup. It takes a lot of trial-and-error through, but eventually, you'll find the entry you're looking for. Here's another entry which I used in an answer recently: oed.com/oed2/00198456. I found a link to some OED2 page in a comment before, and have been manipulating URLs since then.
    – Justin
    Commented Jul 2, 2022 at 14:05
  • The OED3 Word of the Day page provides a link to the relevant OED2 entry as well. But the OED2 entries (almost always) don't provide as much information as the OED3 entries.
    – Justin
    Commented Jul 2, 2022 at 14:14

It's not possible for the most part.

Sometimes OED allows its pages to be seen for free. But if you invoke the same link another time you are likely to find that access requires a subscription.

There are a handful of pages that are permanently open for view:

dictionary | English | digital | mammoth | galactico | ninja | palfrenier

Others popup from time to time, and it seems that the one example 'say' by coincidence was available the past couple days.

So, no, you can't do as they've done reliably. If it were reliable (permanent URLs) it would be totally allowable, even encouraged from the OED side.

On the other side, it is considered reasonable (and legal) to post small snippets here, either an image capture or cut and paste of 'Fair Use' sized pieces of text. That is a broader issue that has been addressed elsewhere on meta (link is only one of many in the discussion).

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