dictionary

noun
dic·​tio·​nary | \ ˈdik-shə-ˌner-ē How to pronounce dictionary (audio) , -ˌne-rē \
plural dictionaries

Definition of dictionary

1 : a reference source in print or electronic form containing words usually alphabetically arranged along with information about their forms, pronunciations, functions, etymologies, meanings, and syntactic and idiomatic uses
2 : a reference book listing alphabetically terms or names important to a particular subject or activity along with discussion of their meanings and applications
3 : a reference book listing alphabetically the words of one language and showing their meanings or translations in another language
4 : a computerized list (as of items of data or words) used for reference (as for information retrieval or word processing)

Keep scrolling for more

Synonyms for dictionary

Synonyms

Visit the Thesaurus for More 

Examples of dictionary in a Sentence

Famed for his dictionary, "Rambler" essays and The Lives of the English Poets, Samuel Johnson (1709-1784) remains one of the most-quoted and carefully observed authors who ever lived. Publishers Weekly, 21 July 2008 I still read relatively slowly in Yiddish, with frequent recourse to a dictionary, and my first year of graduate school found me at my desk till two or three in the morning every night … — Aaron Lansky, Outwitting History, 2004 Look it up in the dictionary. try to develop the habit of going to the dictionary whenever you encounter an unfamiliar word
See More
Recent Examples on the Web The dictionary's editors report regional differences for this term as well. Roger J. Kreuz, CNN, "The pandemic is changing the English language," 16 Oct. 2020 The 82-year-old was known as the tribe's historian and cultural preservationist, playing a key role in the creation of the first Apache-English dictionary. Chelsea Curtis, The Arizona Republic, "Kareem Abdul-Jabbar remembers his friend, a White Mountain Apache man who died of COVID-19," 4 Oct. 2020 As the director, Perry helped create the first Apache-English dictionary released in 1972, according to The Baltimore Sun. Chelsea Curtis, The Arizona Republic, "Kareem Abdul-Jabbar remembers his friend, a White Mountain Apache man who died of COVID-19," 4 Oct. 2020 Lookups on Tuesday night spiked 56,000%, the dictionary said. Christina Maxouris, CNN, "Here are the words people looked up after the first presidential debate," 30 Sep. 2020 Inch up the contrast until the lettuce has more definition than a dictionary. Alex Beggs, Bon Appétit, "Is It Ever Okay…to Postpone Dinner While You Take a Photo?," 29 Sep. 2020 This free, online resource features hundreds of articles, images and maps covering a vast array of topics, as well as a complete dictionary and world atlas, all organized according to age and grade level. John Marc Sharpe | Contributing Writer, NOLA.com, "Free legal clinics through the New Orleans Public Library offer help with civil issues," 4 Sep. 2020 Merriam-Webster added the word into its dictionary in 2018. Jessica Flores, USA TODAY, "'Latinx' is mostly unknown term — even among US Latinos: Only 1 in 4 have heard of it, Pew study finds.," 13 Aug. 2020 Hasbro, which owns the U.S. and Canadian trademark for Scrabble, has worked to eliminate offensive words from the dictionary with every new printing of it. Mica Soellner, Washington Examiner, "Scrabble bans more than 200 bigoted words and racial slurs from official list," 10 July 2020

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'dictionary.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

See More

First Known Use of dictionary

1526, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for dictionary

borrowed from Medieval Latin dictiōnārium, name for an alphabetized guide to the Vulgate, earlier dictiōnārius, name for a Latin textbook in which words are grouped by topic (apparently coined by its author, the 13th-century English-born university teacher John of Garland), from Latin dictiōn-, dictiō "speech, (in grammar) word, expression" + -ārius, -ārium -ary entry 1 — more at diction

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about dictionary

Time Traveler for dictionary

Time Traveler

The first known use of dictionary was in 1526

See more words from the same year

Statistics for dictionary

Last Updated

21 Oct 2020

Cite this Entry

“Dictionary.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/dictionary. Accessed 30 Oct. 2020.

Keep scrolling for more

More Definitions for dictionary

dictionary

noun
How to pronounce dictionary (audio)

English Language Learners Definition of dictionary

: a reference book that contains words listed in alphabetical order and that gives information about the words' meanings, forms, pronunciations, etc.
: a reference book that lists in alphabetical order the words of one language and shows their meanings or translations in a different language
: a reference book that lists in alphabetical order words that relate to a particular subject along with their definitions and uses

dictionary

noun
dic·​tio·​nary | \ ˈdik-shə-ˌner-ē How to pronounce dictionary (audio) \
plural dictionaries

Kids Definition of dictionary

1 : a book giving the meaning and usually the pronunciation of words listed in alphabetical order
2 : a reference book explaining words of a particular subject listed in alphabetical order a medical dictionary
3 : a book listing words of one language in alphabetical order with definitions in another language

Keep scrolling for more

Comments on dictionary

What made you want to look up dictionary? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).

WORD OF THE DAY

Test Your Vocabulary

Here Be Dragons: A Creature Identification Quiz

  • monster werewolf photo
  • Which is a synonym of werewolf?
Spell It

Can you spell these 10 commonly misspelled words?

TAKE THE QUIZ
Syn City

Test Your Knowledge - and learn some interesting things along the way.

TAKE THE QUIZ
Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!