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This is a small dictionary of dictionary words, codes and useful dictionary links. It is in alphabetical order, so click a letter above to see dictionary words starting with that letter.


Approval - these are words which describe something and show your approval of it, for example 'bonny' means good-looking; e.g. in 'He's a bonny baby.'

Archaic Words - these are words that are out-of-date now, but were used hundreds of years ago and can be found especially in literature, for example, 'thee' /­i:/ meaning you (singular).




Collocation - words that usually go together; e.g. 'red in the face', which means 'angry'.

Currency - how up-to-date a word is. It may be modern, archaic or dated.


Dated Words - out-of-date expressions. These can be quite modern, for example words from the 1960's such as 'groovy' ( /'gru:vI/ an adjective meaning attractive or excellent) are now dated.

Definition - A definition is a part of an entry that describes what the word means. It usually comes after the pronunciation information and grammar codes, and before the example sentences. A word can have more than one definition if it has more than one meaning. To choose the right definition, look at all the definitions and decide which one fits the situation best. Some dictionaries put the most common meaning first, but this is not always true, and the meaning of the word you are looking for may not be the most common one.

Derogatory - Derogatory words are rude about something or someone. An example is 'puerile', which means silly and childish.

Internet Dictionaries

Dictionary Usage - CILL materials



Entry -An entry includes a headword, pronunciation information, grammatical information, a definition and usually an example. Here is an example for the headword 'than':
than /­Šn/ preposition You use than to link two parts of a comparison. EG. 'I can jump higher than you.'

Euphemism - a euphemism is a nice way to describe something bad or taboo; for example, the expression 'He passed away.' means that he died.


Formality - words used in formal situations. Usually there are also more common words that mean nearly the same thing. For example, 'to controvert' means to argue. It's adjective is more common and less formal: 'controversial'.



Grammar codes explain the part of speech (e.g. noun, verb, adjective) of a word, and how a word fits into a phrase or sentence.

The grammar codes are either after the pronunciation information, or to the right of the entry. Here are two examples with the grammar codes in red:

disĚcard /'dIska:d; 'dIskard/ v [Tn] (a) throw (sth) out or away: old discarded clothes (b) stop using, wearing etc. (sth that is no longer useful) discard one's winter clotes in spring, discard outdated beliefs. (c) give up (unwanted playing cards): She discarded a four, and picked up a king.

From the Oxford Advanced Learner's English-Chinese Dictionary.

discard /dIska:d/, discards, discarding, discarded. If you discard someone or something, you get rid of them or have nothing more to do with them because you no longer want them or need them. v + o
= ditch

From the Collins Cobuild English Language Dictionary.

v = verb
[Tn] = Transitive and noun. The phrase or sentence should have a subject, followed by a transitive verb (a verb followed by an object) and a direct object. The direct object can be a noun, noun phrase or a pronoun. See the Oxford Advanced Learner's English-Chinese Dictionary, page 1874.

v + o = verb + object

ditch = 'to ditch' means nearly the same as 'to discard'.


Headword - A headword is a word that you can look up in your dictionary. It is the first word in an entry.

Sometimes headwords are called 'roots', because they are the smallest word with that meaning; e.g. 'jump' is smaller than 'jumped'. Not all words are in your dictionary. The dictionary writers assume that you know the different regular forms of verbs for example, so regular past tenses such as 'jumped' are often defined with 'jump', or not in the dictionary at all. However, some learners dictionaries don't miss out words because they understand the difficulties that learners have.

Therefore, if you can't find a verb that is not the present simple tense form of that verb, look for the present simple tense by taking off the '_d' or '_ed' at the end. If you think a word might be an adjective, take off the ending (such as '_y', '_ing' or '_ed'), then look. For plural nouns, take off the '_s' or '_es'. For adverbs, take off the '_ly'.


Idioms - idioms are expressions in which the meaning of the whole expression has a different meaning from the meanings of the individual words.

Irony - this means that something is the opposite of the meaning of the words, for example 'a fine mess'. 'Fine' usually means something good, but in this case it means a bad mess.


Jocular - jocular words are amusing and slightly rude words to describe something.








Noun codes

n = noun



On-line Dictionaries



Politeness - be careful to avoid derogatory words as they are rude about something or someone. An example is 'puerile', which means silly and childish.


Pronunciation - Intonation and Stress - list of CILL materials

Pronunciation - Individual Sounds - list of CILL materials





Rhetorical - words used in very formal situations that sound strange if they are used in normal conversation; e.g. 'alas' as an expression of sadness.


Sexist - sexist words are words that categorise things according to gender. For example in modern business English the person in charge of a meeting is called the 'Chair' or 'Chairperson', rather than the Chairman or the Chairwoman. However, different cultures have different attitudes towards sexist language.


Taboo - a taboo subject is one that is not mentioned by people in that culture. For example, death is a taboo subject in Chinese. Pay and age are often taboo subjects.




Verb Codes

v = verb I = Intransitive verb, not followed by a complement, but perhaps by an adjunct (a description of the time, place or manner of the action of the verb).
e.g. 'The door opened suddenly.'
C = Complex-transitive verb, which is followed by a direct object and a complement describing the direct object.
e.g. 'The teacher made the lesson interesting.'
L = linking verb, followed by a complement giving more information about the subject of the sentence.
e.g. 'This site is interesting.'
T = Transitive verb, followed by a direct object, which often refers to the person or thing affected by the subject.
e.g. 'He was watching television.'
D = Double-transitive verb, which is followed by a direct and an indirect object.
e.g. 'The University awarded him a degree.'







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Last updated on: Saturday, August 18, 2001.