How Are Dictionary Definitions Written?


Quick Answer

A dictionary definition is first determined to be included in a dictionary by the amount of citations of the word's use as determined by a dictionary editor, and it is written in a format that includes the word, the phonetic spelling for pronunciation and the definition from most common to least. Depending on the dictionary version and medium of publication, the definition may include variances of the word, examples in picture or sentence form and synonyms or antonyms of the defined word. Every year, hundreds of new words are defined and included in the dictionary.

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How Are Dictionary Definitions Written?
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Full Answer

New words are included in the dictionary based on the word's usage and recorded use or citation to determine its broad recognition. Some new definitions in the dictionary are pre-existing words that have taken on a different meaning. Some are made up words that constitute a specific reference, usually acquired by song lyrics, popular fiction terms or Internet or technological terms. To make it into the dictionary, a word must stand the test of time, although in the digital age of information, 2 or 3 years is no longer the amount of time to prove longevity. It is usually determined by its substantial use by many publications, citations or sources.

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