My mom's a librarian, and she keeps telling me how city library Web sites give library patrons free access online versions of things that usually cost a ton of money, such as academic journals and reference books. At the Louisville Free Public Library at least, these free things include the Oxford English Dictionary.
Holy crap! The OED is one of the coolest dictionaries (yes, yes, I know I'm a nerd), but I've never had much of a chance to look at it. That's because it costs $895 for the 20-volume set, or $295 for a CD or online subscription. 20 volumes, like an encyclopedia. 21,728 pages. 291,500 entries. And I can't afford it!
Fortunately, I don't have to.
Besides the huge number of entries, the OED offers etymology and quotations showing how the word has been used through the centuries. It's a big fat piece of word-nerd awesomeness.
Coming next, a post that makes entirely too much use of the OED.