Can you pass me the dictionary is more likely to invoke your friend passing you a tablet or laptop in the future, rather than a weighty tome.

Oxford University Press has said that its website is so successful that it's not sure "whether the 126-year-old dictionary's next edition will be printed on paper at all", reports AP.

The digital version of the Oxford English Dictionary now gets 2 million hits a month from subscribers, who pay $295 a year for the service in the U.S. In contrast, the current printed edition - a 20-volume, 750-pound ($1165) set published in 1989 - has sold about 30,000 sets in total.

"At present we are experiencing increasing demand for the online product", a statement from the publisher said. "However, a print version will certainly be considered if there is sufficient demand at the time of publication".

Nigel Portwood, chief executive of Oxford University Press (OUP), told The Sunday Times in an interview, that he didn't think the newest edition will be printed. "The print dictionary market is just disappearing. It is falling away by tens of percent a year", he said.

However, an OUP spokeswoman told the Guardian that no decision had been made.

"It is likely to be more than a decade before the full edition is published and a decision on format will be taken at that point", she said before adding that "Demand for online resources is growing, but large numbers of people continue to purchase dictionaries in printed form and we have no plans to stop publishing print dictionaries".

A team of 80 lexicographers has been working on the third edition of the OED - known as OED3 - for the past 21 years. Ouch.