English writer and broadcaster Robert Robinson holding the first volume of A Supplement To The Oxford English Dictionary in 1977. Evening Standard/Hulton Archive/Getty Images hide caption toggle caption Evening Standard/Hulton Archive/Getty Images Opinion 13.7: Cosmos And Culture Manners Makyth Man January 24, 2014 The Oxford English Dictionary is at work on a monumental third edition. Why? We didn't have the OED before the 1850s. Is it so unthinkable that we should do without it going forward? What are dictionaries for, anyway? Alva Noë wonders.