CLAIMS that the third edition of the Oxford English Dictionary will never appear in print have been dismissed by Oxford University Press.

According to The Sunday Times, staff had been told that the third edition, due for completion in a decade’s time, would never be published as a book and would be published online instead.

But OUP told the Oxford Mail last night that no decision had been taken.

Eighty lexicographers at OUP’s Walton Street offices are currently preparing the third edition. The first edition was published in 1928 and the 20-volume second edition followed in 1989.

OUP spokesman Anna Baldwin said: “No decision has yet been made on the format of the third edition. It’s likely to be more than a decade before the full edition is published and a decision on format will be taken at that point. Lexicographers are currently preparing the third edition of the OED, which is 28 per cent complete. No final completion date is yet confirmed.”

She added: “Demand for online resources is growing but large numbers of people continue to buy dictionaries in printed form and we have no plans to stop publishing print dictionaries.”