The New Shorter Oxford English Dictionary is a historical dictionary of modern English. It sets out the main meanings and semantic developments of words current at any time between 1700 and the present day; those which have been in regular literary or colloquial use at some point in their history; slang or dialect words which are nevertheless likely to be generally encountered through accessible literature or the modern mass media; and in addition a wide range of scientific and technical words such as may be of interest to serious amateurs or advanced students. Every headword is traced back to the time of its first known use, however early, in many cases to the manuscript records of the Old and Middle English periods.
Review from previous edition The Shorter is the Matterhorn to the great OED's Everest - elegant, awesome and marvelous to behold, differing only in size. A stupendous achievement. Simon Winchester, author of The Professor and the Madman ... truly a dictionary of global English. Sydney Morning Herald The Shorter is a mine of information Toronto Star ... astonishingly good value ... the new SOED is all that one would expect of it. Keith Waterhouse, Daily Mail It is a dictionary with zest ... a rare treasure. Frank Devine, The Australian The Shorter Oxford English Dictionary redefines hip. The New York Post
The New Shorter was prepared under the editorship of Lesley Brown 1980-1993. It was the first complete revision of the dictionary, being in fact not so much an overhaul of the existing text as a reabridgement of the OED and its Supplements. The Fifth Edition was published in 2002, and reverted to the name Shorter Oxford English Dictionary to emphasize the link between this 2-volume dictionary and the original 20-volume OED.