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Annotating a dictionary entry

Components of a Macmillan English Dictionary entry

Watch the video 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?

The video explained that, in the Macmillan Dictionary, red stars indicate the frequency of a word in English. 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 another entry from the Macmillan Dictionary. The red star shows that ‘pants’ is a frequent word.

Dictionary excerpt taken from Macmillan Dictionary © Springer Nature Limited 2019

In the entry there are audio recordings of the word pronounced by British and American speakers, and also International Phonetic Alphabet (IPA) symbols to show how the word is pronounced – /pӕnts/ . For more information about IPA symbols, read this page.

There is also 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.

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.

Your task

Here are some types of information that might be included in a dictionary entry:
  • The part of speech (word class)
  • Information about pronunciation
  • The opportunity to record your own pronunciation, and compare it to a sound recording
  • Definition(s)
  • A label indicating restrictions on grammar patterns
  • Information about frequency
  • Collocations
  • A label indicating that the word is offensive, or restricted to a particular register
  • Information about the origin of the word
  • Information about changes in meaning over time
  • A label indicating that use is restricted to a particular discipline or profession
  • A label indicating that use is restricted to a particular region
  • Examples
  • Pictures (and/or videos)
  • A translation into another language
  • Synonyms
  • Antonyms
  • A usage note, for example showing common errors or differences in usage across registers
  • Concordance lines
Are these types of information included in some entries in the dictionary you use most frequently? If not, would it be useful to include them?
Does the dictionary you use most frequently include other types of information, not listed here?

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

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Understanding English Dictionaries

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