The Oxford English Dictionary—the 3-volume one with the magnifying glass—has ditched its hard copy and gone digital for good, which makes one "bookish middle-class" writer nervous. "Other totemic college books could go out of style, maybe," Virginia Heffernan writes in the New York Times. But "the OED was forever. Wasn’t it?"
She asks if there is even a place for scholarly dictionaries in our golden age of Wikipedia, online thesauruses, and spell check. Looking up OED online, Heffernan finds usage hints, often with quotations, that save her from subtle but painful errors. Even though the OED's venerable hard copy, first printed in 1928, feels long gone, its online version easily trumps the web's quickie lexicons.