Want to keep learning?

This content is taken from the Coventry University, The Alan Turing Institute & Macmillan Education's online course, Understanding English Dictionaries. Join the course to learn more.

Skip to 0 minutes and 1 second Headword, that’s the word you look up in the dictionary, for example, here we have love, part of speech. Love is a verb. Pronunciation or IPA that’s the international phonetic alphabet and its these symbols that we see here which show us how a word should be pronounced. Collocation. Collocations are words that often appear together. So, in this instance we can see that the words which often appear with love are dearly, deeply, passionately, really and truly. Definition. For the first definition of the word low, its small in height or smaller than usual height. The examples that are given are a low wall, bridge or building and the plane was very low, and finally we have possible meanings.

Skip to 1 minute and 9 seconds So, for the word low there are six different ways it can be used. The one we’ve been looking at, small in height, as you can see is number one in the list, followed by small in amount, unhappy, lacking hope, voice or sound, unfair or dishonest and finally having to do with clothes. Register, the word lovey dovey has an informal register. Field restriction, this is the subject area that the word belongs to, for example, here with the word export it’s used in the field of economics. Synonyms and antonyms. Synonyms are words that mean the same as the word you’re looking at.

Skip to 1 minute and 53 seconds So, for example, louse up means the same as mess up and for antonyms on exporter we have the antonym importer and you can tell its an antonym by the equals sign with a line through it, compared to the synonym marker which is just the equals sign. Some dictionaries include extra information. So, in the Macmillan dictionary, for example, here we have the word love which has three stars indicating it’s a very common word. In fact, one of the two and a half thousand most common words in the English language. Having two stars indicates that a word is among the next common words in English and one star means that the word is fairly common.

Skip to 2 minutes and 50 seconds The least common words in the Macmillan dictionary are shown without any stars and the headword appears in black, not red.

Annotating a dictionary entry

Watch the video, presented by Sharon Creese, explaining the key components of a dictionary entry.

As you watch the video, make written notes of the key components that make up a dictionary entry. How many different parts of an entry can you see in the video? You can either briefly write up your notes in a notebook or type in your notes digitally on a device. As you can see, there are many aspects involved in creating a dictionary entry.

We would like you to search for a range of words in the Macmillan Dictionary. Think of words that you will look up on the site, enter them into the search box one by one, and look at the entry pages. Based on the video you watched, see if you can identify the different parts of an entry on the pages.

In the video, Sharon also explained that, in the Macmillan Dictionary, red stars indicate the frequency of a word in English. Can you find any words that have one, two or three red stars? You can find more information about red words and stars on the Macmillan Dictionary - Red words and stars page, which also contains a useful YouTube video explaining the differentiation in more detail.

Please note that, depending on the country in which you are located, you may experience technical issues with accessing YouTube video content.

Here is an entry from the Macmillan Dictionary.

Macmillan Dictionary definition of 'pants'

Dictionary excerpt taken from Macmillan Dictionary © Springer Nature Limited 2019

The red star shows that it is a frequent word. For more information about red words and stars, read this page https://www.macmillandictionary.com/learn/red-words.html.

There are audio recordings of the word pronounced by British and American speakers, and also IPA symbols to show how the word is pronounced - /pӕnts/ . For more information about IPA symbols, read this page http://www.macmillandictionaries.com/features/pronunciation-symbols/.

There is information about regional variation. ‘Pants’ means different things in British and American English. In this example, British English has been set as the default setting, but you can choose to set American English as the default. For more information about default options see this page https://www.macmillandictionary.com/options.html.

The entry also provides some synonyms and related words, and you can look in the thesaurus to find words for other types of underwear and for types of trousers and shorts. For more information about the Macmillan Thesaurus, read this page https://www.macmillandictionary.com/about_thesaurus.

Your task

Look up a word of your choice in the Macmillan Dictionary and identify at least three of the types of information discussed in the previous steps this week.

If you can, take a screenshot of the entry, annotate it so that others can see the types of information you have identified and post the annotated screenshot to board in Padlet.

Alternatively, share your thoughts and reflections on how dictionary definition entries are created in the comments area.

Further reading

There are audio recordings of the word pronounced by British and American speakers, and also IPA symbols to show how the word is pronounced - /pӕnts/ . For more information about IPA symbols, read this page.

Video credit: Dictionary excerpts taken from Macmillan Dictionary © Springer Nature Limited 2019

Share this video:

This video is from the free online course:

Understanding English Dictionaries

Coventry University