Meaning of dictionary in English:


Pronunciation /ˈdɪkʃən(ə)ri/

See synonyms for dictionary

Translate dictionary into Spanish

nounplural noun dictionaries

  • 1A book or electronic resource that lists the words of a language (typically in alphabetical order) and gives their meaning, or gives the equivalent words in a different language, often also providing information about pronunciation, origin, and usage.

    ‘I'll look up 'love' in the dictionary’
    • ‘the website gives access to an online dictionary’
    • ‘the dictionary definition of ‘smile’’
    • ‘Apart from in books and dictionaries it was a word that was hardly heard.’
    • ‘Mark Twain claimed never to have coined a word as far as he knew, though historical dictionaries list him as the first user of many.’
    • ‘The latest dictionary contains new words and phrases that sum up life in the UK today.’
    • ‘Often he would search for minutes in his Arabic-English dictionary for the exact word he wanted.’
    • ‘We had to get up at one point and look up a word in the dictionary because he didn't believe me that it existed.’
    • ‘On the surface, both are among the simplest of words in the French dictionary.’
    • ‘There is not a word in the English dictionary to really describe this pre-meditated act of evil and wickedness.’
    • ‘We're calling the film Incubus because we looked the word up in the dictionary and thought it sounded enigmatic.’
    • ‘The problem is that my French vocabulary is so poor that I end up having to look up every other word in a dictionary so it takes ages.’
    • ‘I can remember my schoolteacher telling me to look a word up in the dictionary.’
    • ‘Group 1 selected equivalents for a test item on a multiple-choice test by using only the monolingual English dictionary.’
    • ‘And can we take a moment to thank all our readers who sent in English slang dictionaries?’
    • ‘Seventy years ago, the Philological Society had resolved to publish a completely new English dictionary.’
    • ‘She also started compiling a dictionary of youth slang first used by the transvestite community.’
    • ‘Taberah was reading the bilingual dictionary with rapt concentration.’
    • ‘The software uses a standard dictionary, designed by Kiran, to accomplish the task.’
    • ‘Later reference to a dictionary illuminated the answer, but by that stage all had been revealed.’
    • ‘‘Personhood’ is not found in many dictionaries or reference works.’
    • ‘Questions as to the meaning of words in documents can rarely, if ever, be determined conclusively by reference to dictionaries.’
    • ‘I keep turning to the dictionary and the thesaurus, not for a reference, simply to read words at random.’
    lexicon, wordbook, glossary, vocabulary list, vocabulary, word list, wordfinder
    View synonyms
    1. 1.1A reference book on a particular subject, the items of which are typically arranged in alphabetical order.
      ‘a dictionary of quotations’
      • ‘Instead I had to settle for a couple of old-fashioned dictionaries of quotations.’
      • ‘The standard dictionaries of English quotations don't have a single Indian entry.’
      • ‘Save for a brief quotation from a dictionary of folklore, I have so far neglected Anglo-Saxon attitudes.’
      • ‘Why he managed to justify murder and get into all the quotation dictionaries with a comment that is obvious to any cook and irrelevant to mass murder is the sort of question that politicians don't answer.’
      • ‘Today, there are hundreds of language and subject dictionaries, but rarely are these wonderful works of reference available to those who need them.’
      • ‘A set of eight dictionaries, covering thesaurus, quotations, spelling, business and grammar comes for Rs.795.’
      • ‘We could consult an American biographical dictionary, in case Burdett left a lasting mark.’
      • ‘My biographical dictionary describes Virginia Woolf as " the archetypal modernist".’
      • ‘Don't rush to make good the deficiency by consulting a dictionary of national biographies.’
      • ‘Check out the books also on the lighter side of the English language and also the dictionary of word origins.’
      • ‘In addition, many local libraries have legal dictionaries that list attorneys and their areas of expertise in and around your state.’
      • ‘For his castaway book he picks a dictionary of flora and fauna.’
    2. 1.2Computing A set of words or other text strings made for use in applications such as spellcheckers.
      ‘the worm attempts to crack account passwords using a built-in dictionary’
      • ‘If it finds something in your text that isn't in the dictionary, you are offered a list of alternatives you can include instead.’
      • ‘There are tools on the Internet that use dictionaries of common words and phrases to crack a password.’
      • ‘I wanted to remove the misspelled word from the dictionary, but couldn't figure out how to do it.’
      • ‘The first attack is to test a dictionary of about 1,000 common passwords, things like ‘letmein’, ‘password’, ‘123456’ and so on.’
      • ‘It uses a myriad of hacking tools as well as a 340-million-word dictionary to unlock passwords.’


    have swallowed a dictionary
    • Use long and obscure words when speaking.

      • ‘customers in our pub said I sounded as if I'd swallowed a dictionary’
      • ‘a doorstop of a novel, by a writer who appears to have swallowed a dictionary’
      • ‘The reception was held in the Armagh City Hotel and by all accounts everybody swore that Noel had swallowed a dictionary because of all the big words he used during the speech.’
      • ‘Hulme seems to have swallowed a dictionary and the results are arch and self-congratulatory.’
      • ‘It sounds like someone has swallowed a dictionary and is trying to justify a wishy wash outlook.’


Early 16th century from medieval Latin dictionarium (manuale) or dictionarius (liber) ‘manual or book of words’, from Latin dictio (see diction).