The next time I am asked what book I would like to have if I were marooned on a desert island, I know my choice. It would be the New English Dictionary (1888-1933). Running to 11 huge volumes of small print, it would last me a long time, perhaps until someone picked up my note in an empty cough-syrup bottle and sent out a rescue party. The NED is crammed with fascinating information not usually included in a dictionary. In addition to the usual meanings and etymologies, it quotes from works dating back hundreds of years, and thus combines lexicography and history.
Recently I opened the M-N volume, thinking to look up the word "medical." I already knew the ordinary things about the word, such as its coming from the Latin medicus, physician, and being akin to mederi, to heal, and remedium, remedy. I also knew that it can be