noun, plural dic·tion·ar·ies.
- a book, optical disc, mobile device, or online lexical resource (such as Dictionary.com) containing a selection of the words of a language, giving information about their meanings, pronunciations, etymologies, inflected forms, derived forms, etc., expressed in either the same or another language; lexicon; glossary. Print dictionaries of various sizes, ranging from small pocket dictionaries to multivolume books, usually sort entries alphabetically, as do typical CD or DVD dictionary applications, allowing one to browse through the terms in sequence. All electronic dictionaries, whether online or installed on a device, can provide immediate, direct access to a search term, its meanings, and ancillary information: an unabridged dictionary of English; a Japanese-English dictionary.
- a book giving information on particular subjects or on a particular class of words, names, or facts, usually arranged alphabetically: a biographical dictionary; a dictionary of mathematics.
- a list of codes, terms, keys, etc., and their meanings, used by a computer program or system.
- a list of words used by a word-processing program as the standard against which to check the spelling of text entered.
- a specialized dictionary covering terms used in the various branches of the legal profession, as civil law, criminal law, and corporate law. A comprehensive legal dictionary adds to its body of standard English entries many words and phrases that have made their way into modern legal practice from law French and Latin and are rarely found in a general English monolingual dictionary. Such a specialized dictionary is useful not only for law students and for attorneys themselves, but for members of the lay public who require legal services. Legal dictionaries published in print follow the normal practice of sorting entry terms alphabetically, while electronic dictionaries, such as the online Dictionary of Law on Dictionary.com, allow direct, immediate access to a search term.
- a specialized dictionary covering terms used in the health professions by doctors, nurses, and others involved in allied health care services. A dictionary with authoritative spellings and definitions is a particularly crucial resource in medicine, where a misspelling or misunderstanding can have unfortunate consequences for people under care. Print dictionaries in this field may be sorted alphabetically or may be categorized according to medical specializations or by the various systems in the body, as the immune system and the respiratory system. The online Medical Dictionary on Dictionary.com allows alphabetical browsing in the combined electronic versions of more than one authoritative medical reference, insuring access to correct spellings, as well as immediate, direct access to a known search term typed into the search box on the site: A medical dictionary reveals that large numbers of medical terms are formed from the same Latin and Greek parts combined and recombined.
noun, plural online dictionaries.
- a dictionary that is available on the Internet or World Wide Web and accessed through a Web browser using a computer or a mobile device, primarily by typing a query term into a search box on the site. Online dictionaries like Dictionary.com offer immediate, direct access through large databases to a word’s spelling and meanings, plus a host of ancillary information, including its variant spellings, pronunciation, inflected forms, origin, and derived forms, as well as supplementary notes on matters of interest or concern about how the word is used: Some people think online dictionaries will make print dictionaries obsolete.
noun, plural science dictionaries.
- a specialized dictionary covering terms in the life, earth, and physical sciences, such as the online Science Dictionary on Dictionary.com. A science dictionary includes many technical terms with precise, specialized meanings—terms not normally found in general dictionaries—making it an invaluable resource for students and professionals in scientific fields.
- a specialized dictionary covering the words, phrases, and idioms that reflect the least formal speech of a language. These terms are often metaphorical and playful, and are likely to be evanescent as the spoken language changes from one generation to another. Much slang belongs to specific groups, as the jargon of a particular class, profession, or age group. Some is vulgar. Some slang terms have staying power as slang, but others make a transition into common informal speech, and then into the standard language. An online slang dictionary, such as the Dictionary.com Slang Dictionary, provides immediate information about the meaning and history of a queried term and its appropriateness or lack of appropriateness in a range of social and professional circumstances.
- a dictionary such as Thesaurus.com that, for each entry word, lists other words with the same or nearly the same meanings, as well as antonyms, words with the opposite meaning. Synonym dictionaries that are published as books are usually organized alphabetically. In contrast, a print thesaurus is often organized by categories of words. An online thesaurus provides immediate, direct access to the search word with its synonyms and antonyms.
- a dictionary that lists common clues found in crossword puzzles with potential answer words. In books, the lists are usually sorted by the number of letters in the answer, while an online crossword dictionary, such as the Dictionary.com Crossword Solver, is able to analyze queries electronically, examining either the clue or the number and pattern of letters already filled in to arrive at suggested answers.
- a dictionary of given names that indicates whether a name is usually male, female, or unisex and often includes origins as well as meanings; for example, as by indicating that Evangeline, meaning “good news,” comes from Greek. Used primarily as an aid in selecting a name for a baby, dictionaries of names may also include lists of famous people who have shared a name and information about its current popularity ranking.
noun, plural English dictionaries.
- a dictionary in which most of the entry words and all of their definitions, as well as supplementary material, are in English; a monolingual English dictionary, such as the online resource Dictionary.com. Terms from other languages that are commonly used by speakers of English are given language labels and often the associated foreign as well as Anglicized pronunciations.
noun plural -aries
- a reference resource, in printed or electronic form, that consists of an alphabetical list of words with their meanings and parts of speech, and often a guide to accepted pronunciation and syllabification, irregular inflections of words, derived words of different parts of speech, and etymologies
- a similar reference work giving equivalent words in two or more languages. Such dictionaries often consist of two or more parts, in each of which the alphabetical list is given in a different languagea German-English dictionary
- (as modifier)a dictionary definition See also glossary, lexicon, thesaurus
- a reference publication listing words or terms of a particular subject or activity, giving information about their meanings and other attributesa dictionary of gardening
- a collection of information or examples with the entries alphabetically arrangeda dictionary of quotations
1520s, from Medieval Latin dictionarium “collection of words and phrases,” from Latin dictionarius “of words,” from dictio “word” (see diction). Probably first English use in title of a book was in Sir Thomas Elyot’s “Latin Dictionary” (1538) though Latin Dictionarius was so used from early 13c. Grose’s 1788 “Dictionary of the Vulgar Tongue” has “RICHARD SNARY. A dictionary.”