The Use of the Dictionary

A dictionary is a book that gives a list of the words of a language in alphabetical order and explains what they mean or gives a word for them in a foreign language:e.g a French- English dictionary.


A common dictionary typically has following structure.

  • Word entry i.e the word to be explained is written showing its breakdown into syllables e.g. dic-tion-ary
  • Transcription: the word is transcribed using phonetic symbols in order to show how it should be pronounced e.g. dictionary/ dikʃƏnri/
  • The stress is indicated through the placement of a mark beside the top of the symbol which begins the syllable which carries the primary stress. It is placed at the bottom of the symbol which begins the syllable which carries the secondary stress / dikʃƏnri/
  • The word class is also entered e.g. different /difƏrenʃI/ noun, adjective.This shows the word can be used as a noun or as an adjective .


The use of numbering e.g. 1,2,3 shows the various levels of meaning into which a word can be put. e,g. the word “difficult” can mean.

  • not easy
  • full of problems
  • (people) not easy to please
  • The variety of (Br E) British English, North American English (N.A.M.E) or Zealand English (NZE)can be written beside a word.
  • Other pieces of information which are used to explain a word include:


Pl =  Plural

C =  Countable

U = Uncountable

Syn = Synonym

Ant = Antonym

Idm = Idiom

Fig = Figurative language

Tech = technical usage

Opp = opposite

PHRV = Phrasal verb

Sth=  Something



Use a standard dictionary to do the class work on page 129- 130


See also

Structure: Prepositional Phrase

Writing: Article Writing

Vocabulary Development: Prefixes

Structure: Active and Passive Voices

Speech Work: Stress Patterns

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