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How to use dictionary


1. Introduction
2. Types of dictionaries and their content
3. Kinds of dictionaries:
   1. general dictionaries;
   2. special dictionaries:
       1. bilingual dictionaries;
       2. explanatory dictionaries;
       3. etymological dictionaries;
       4. dictionaries of synonyms;
       5. phraseological dictionaries;
       6. pronouncing dictionaries;
       7. spelling dictionaries

4. How to use a dictionary. Dictionaries entries.
5. The encyclopedic material of some American dictionaries.
6. Conclusions
7. The list of literature.
Dictionaries  are tools, and they are much more complicated, and capable  of
many more uses then we suspect. All of us know students  need  encouragement
and guidance in the use of dictionaries.  Some  students  are  able  to  use
their dictionaries with anything like efficiency. Certainly  there  must  be
very few of those who come up through the grades  these  days  who  are  not
familiar with the details of looking up words in  dictionaries,  but  it  is
one thing to find a word in a dictionary and  quite  another  to  understand
fully information there given about it. Linguists and lexicographers have  a
matter  with  dictionaries.  Every  linguist  with  an   interest   in   the
quantitative properties of language will on  some  occasion  be  faced  with
some form of the ultimate question in  the  word  numbers  game:  How  many
words did Shakespeare use?,  How many  words  are  there  in  the  English
language? How many words should a dictionary have?  The  first  question,
at least, has a definite although not simple answer: Shakespeares  complete
works consist of a total of 884647 words of text containing  a  grand  total
of 29066 different words including proper names.  But on the  question  How
many words should a dictionary have it is very difficult to answer.   Every
dictionary has a different number of words. On the  contrary  lexicographers
have a task to record the meanings of words, the  task  of  arranging  these
meanings in the orderthey think will be of most help to those who use  their
work. Different editors solve  this  problem  of  arrangement  in  different
ways. In the prefatory part of any dictionary you will find some  indication
of the plan that has  been  followed  in  arranging  the  meanings.  In  the
Werriam-Webster dictionaries the meanings are arranged as far  as  possible,
in the order in wich they arose. In those dictionaries, the  first  meanings
given are the earliest a word is known to have  had,  and  the  more  modern
meanings come later. The arrangement of meanings is  difficult,  thats  why
the only safe course is to examine the forematter of the dictionary  to  see
what plan has been followed.
Dictionary is a book that contains a selected  list  of  words  arranged  in
alphabetical order. It explains their meanings and gives  information  about
them. In a dictionary a person can look up a word quickly, discover what  it
means and learn how it is prononced.
  Dictionaries give the meanings  of  many  kinds  of  words.  Most  modern
dictionaries describe the facts of  a  language  as  educated  speakers  and
writers  use  it.   They  are  called  descriptive  dictionaries  because  a
dictionary editor does not change  the  facts  of  a  language.  Many  older
dictionaries tried to prescribe rules, some of wich did not agree  with  the
way people commonly talked or wrote. These  books  are  called  prescriptive
dictionaries. Most general dictionaries include:
  1) the ordinary words of everyday life, such as bread, run and with;
  2)  literary words used as aggregation, despoil, incontrovertible;
  3) thechnical word, such as starboard, gene and ratio;
  4) words used chiefly on informal occasions, such as gap and wimp;
  5) words used in writing to give an old-fashioned flavor, such as  aweary
     and avaunt;
  6) words not used today but found in the writtings of some authors,  such
     as plaister for plaster;
  7) words or phrases form  other  languages,  such  as  coup  detat  from
     French, tofu from Japanese and barrio from Spanish.
  8) Idioms, such as split hairs and unter the thumb of;
  9) Abbreviations, such as U.S.A., Kans., and p.;

  10)Important propernames, such as Buddha and Jupiter.

  No dictionary records all the words of our  language.  In  fact,  no  one
knows exatly how many words  there  are.  Besides  ordinary  words  used  in
evereryday speech, the English language includes thousands  of  geaografical
names; hundreds of thousands of technical terms, including more than  750000
names of  inspects  alone.  New  words  are  coined  for  newscientifiv  and
technical discoveries, and slang words and specific vocabularies  constantly
spring up. As  nations  draw  closer  together  through  trade  and  travel,
satellite communication,  and  sharing  of  technology,  languages  tend  to
borrow more and more words from each other. That is why  dictionary  editors
must be selective in the words they decide to include.
    Most dictionaries tell us much more than just the  meanings  of  words.
Many list pronunciations, derivations, refixes  and  suffixes,  illustrative
quotations, synonyms and other information.  The  illustration  articles  in
dictionaries show in detail what dictionaries contain.
Dictionaries  may  be  clasified  as  general   dictionaries   and   special
dictionaries. A general dictionary contains information  on  everyday  words
such as it and the. But it  also  defines  many  technical  terms,  such  as
chromatografhy and columella. A specialized dictionary omits  most  everyday
terms, and limits itself to  information  on  words  used  in  a  particular
field, such as biology.
  General dictionaries range in size  from  small  pocket  dictionaries  to
large multivolume or table dictionaries. The number of  entries  in  general
dictionary depends, on its purpose. Each dictionary is  designed  to  answer
the questions of a certain type of reader. The World Book Dictioanry  is  an
example of a  dictionary  designed  for  family  use.  The  largest  general
dictionaries may contain over 400000 entries  when  a  dictionary  has  this
many entries, many absolete and technical terms are included. Other  general
dictionaries may have from 15000 entries to 200000 entries.
  Specialized  dictionaries  are  designed  to  give  more  information  in
particular fields than general dictionaries can.  Dictionaries of this  kind
can be divided into such group as:
  1) Explanatory dictionaries
  2) Etymological dictionaries
  3) Dictionaries of synonyms
  4) Phraseological dictionaries.

  Besides, such dictionaries can be mentioned as historical dialectal.
  Bilingual  or  translating  dictionaries  reresent  the  most   ordinary,
widespread type. They contain words and expressions of the  native  language
and  their  foreign  equivalents,  or   vice-versa.   (the   English-Russian
dictionary by V. K. Miller, etc)
  Explanatory dictionaries give definitions of word meanings. In fact to  a
certain extent they acquaint us with the history of vocabulary  development.
The explanation are given in the same language,  so  they  are  one-language
dictionaries, as it were. For example Websters  New  World  dictionary  of
the American language,  Websters  New  International  dictionary  of  the
English language  are usually considered  to  be  the  most  available  and
popular editions. But  the  greatest  authority,  naturally,  and  the  most
comprehensive is The New English dictionary on Historical Principles.
  Etymological dictionaries state the origin of  words.  If  borrowed,  the
source  of  borrowing  and  the  original  form  are  given,  with  all  the
subsequent changes in meaning and usage. If native, the Anglo-Dakon form  is
given together with the history of word development paralel forms  in  other
Gemanic languages. Skeats Etymological dictionary is believed to be one  of
the most widely used.
  Dictionaries of synonymes give either  groups  of  synonyms  without  any
explanations of difference  in  shades  of  meaning  or  usage,  as  concise
dictionaries usually do, or as in full-size synonymic dictionaries, one  can
find lengthy definitions of every synonym that the group contains with  even
directions as to how to use  them.  The  dictionary  of  this  kind  is  the
Websters dictionary of synonyms. It  does  not  give  any  etymological  or
historical  information  but  it  supplies  very  detailed   and   extensive
explanations of the subtlest shades of meaning that synonyms differ in.  The
lists  of  synonymes  are  much  more  exhaustive  than   in   the   earlier
dictionaries of  synonymes  (e.  g.  amiable,  lovable,  gracious,  cordial,
affable, genial,  warm-hearted,  warm,  responsive,  kind,  tender,  kindly,
begignant, benign).
  Phraseological dictionaries deal with phraseological group of  a  certain
language(English Idioms by W. G. Smith, English Idioms  and  how  to  use
them by W. McMordie etc)
  The  best  known  phonetical  dictionary  is  An   English   Pronouncing
Dictionary by Jones.  Among dialectal dictionaries the  Slang  Dictionary
by  Chatto  and  Windus  is  famous.  It  is  also  called   Ethymological,
Historical and Anecdotal.
  Before using a dictionary, one should become familiar  with  the  metods,
principles, and scope of the book because various dictionaries are  arranged
in different ways. Many American  dictionaries  are  arranged  in  different
ways.  Many  american  dictionaries  arrange  all  entries   in   a   single
alphabetical list. Others put abbreviations, geographical  and  biographical
names, and foreign words and phrases in separate lists, usually at  the  end
of the book. All good dictionaries today  have  introductory  sections  that
explain what the book contains and how it is arranged.
  First of all let us now look carefully at some dictionary entries  in  an
effort to secure from them all the information they contain. We shall  begin
by looking  closely  at  the  entry  anecdote  in  the  College  edition  of
Websters New World Dictionary.
  an.ec.dote(anik-dot), n, [Fr. ;ML. Anecdota;Gr. Anekdota, neut. Pl.  of
anecdots unpublished;an-, not+ekdotos<ekdidonai;ek-, out+didonai, to give]
   1)  pl.  Originally,  little-known,  entertaining  facts  of  history  or
      biography; hence,
   2) a short, entertaining account of some happening, usually  personal  or
      biographical. SIN. , see story.

  This dictionary makes etymology one of its strong features and so  serves
exceptionally well for our purpose.
  The following things about this entry are of interest:
  1) The entry word, printed in boldface to give  it  more  prominence,  is
divided by periods into its three syllables. This form of division not  only
helps out with the pronunciation of a word, but it also gives assistance  to
one whohas to divide a word at the end of a line of writing or printing.
 In such cases, words should be devided with respect to their syllables.
2) then, within curves, the word is rewritten, this  time  in  symbols  that
show pronunciation. A heavy accent mark, immediately  follows  the  syllable
which receives most stress,  and  a  lighter  mark  indicates  the  syllable
getting minor stress. A sylable, here Ik, which gets no stress  is  followed
by  a  hyphen.  Following  the  indication   of   pronuciation   comes   the
abbreviation of the of speech to wich the word belongs.
   3) It is well-accepted  dictionary  procedure  to  place  etymologies  in
      square brackets just after the indication of the part of speech of the
      word involved. Etymology easier to follow if we begin at the very  end
      of it and proceed back to its beginning.
In Greek there was a verb, didinai, meaning to give.  A  common  prefix,
ek-, was often used before this verb and  it  then  became  ekdidonai  (to
give out). From this expanded form of the verb Greek  formed  an  adjective,
ekdotos, given out. In Greek it was customary to prefix an- to  adjectives
beginning with a vowel and thus reverse or negate  their  meanings.  So  the
Greeks formed anekdotos, not given out.
  Greek adjectives had masculine, feminine, and neuter  forms.  The  neuter
plural of anekdotos was anekdota, unpublished things,  that  is,  things
not given out. Latin, during the medieval  period,  borrowed  anekdota  in
the form anecdota. This latin  term  passed  into  French,  where  it  was
spelled anecdote. From French the word, unchanged  in  form,  passed  into
   4) The meanings are given in the order of their ages, the oldest  meaning
      being given first. Observe how original meaning ledon to sense 2,  the
      one which nowadays the word usually has.
   5) At the very end of the entry there is  a  reference  to  story  for  a
      presentation of the synonyms of anekdote.
  Dictionaries perform a useful  service  by  distinguishing  between  such
  terms as anecdote, narrative, tale, story.
  Of course, the larger a dictionary  is,  the  more  information  one  can
obtain from it. Here is the entry anecdote as it appears  in  the  current
large unabridged Websters New International dictionary, Second edition.
  anec-dote (anek-dot; anik-), n
   [Fr. Fr. Ir. Anekdotos not published, fr. An- not + ekdotos  given  out,
fr. Ekdidonai to gove out, to publish, fr ek- out+didonai to give. See  DATE
point of time]
   1) pl. Literally, unpublished items; narratives  of  secret  or  private
      details of history;-often in book titles Now rare.
   2) A narrative, sually brief,  of  a  separable  incident  or  event  of
      curious interst, told without nealice  and  usually  with  intent  to
      amuse or please,often biographical and vharacteristic of some notable
      person,esp. of his likable faibles. (Some modern anecdotes  over,  he
      noded in his elbow chair. Prior)
  Syn. see story.
  Anec-dote v. I.  To tell anecdotes-v. t.
  To use as a subject for anecdotes. Both rare.
  Notice that the etymology here ends with a reference to the  entry  DATE,
meaning a point of time. An inspection  of  the  etymology  given  of  that
entry reveals that anecdote belongs to a group of words that  are  related
because they all trace their ancestry, in whole or  in  part,  back  to  the
same IE root that os seen in the Greek verb didonai, meaning to  give.  Here
is the  lst  of  words  Webster  cities  as  being  related  in  the  manner
indicated: anecdote, condone, dado, damu, dative, datum, die, n...,  donate,
dose, dower, edit, pardon, render, sacerdotal.
  One of the unique and highly valuable features of the unabridged Merriam-
Webster is that it often groups words basically related,  because  they,  or
parts of  them,  go  back  to  a  common  ancestor  word.  No  othe  english
dictionary gives so much of this kind of information. Some of the  commonest
words in the language have a surpisingly large number of relatives.
  In the dictionary Century the entry of the word anecdote is as follows:
  Anecdote(anek-dot), n[<F. Anecdote,
            First in pl.  Anecdotes, M.  L.  Anecdota,  <Gr.              ,
pl., things unpublished, applied by Procopius to his memoirs  of  Justinian,
which consisted chiefly of gossip about the private life of the  court;prop.
Neut. pl. of               ]
  1) pl. secret history; facts relating to secret or private affairs, as of
     governments or of  individuals:  often  used  (commonly  in  the  form
     anecdota) as the title of works treating of such matters.
  2) A short narrative of a  particular  or  detached  incident;  a  single
     passage of private life, =Syn. Anecdote, Story.
  An anecdote is the  relation  of  an  interesting  or  amusing  incident,
generally of a private nature, and is always reported as true/
  A story may be true or fictious, and generally has reference to a  series
of incidents so arranged and related as to be entertaining.
  In this treatment of the word there are some things not observed before:
  1) as is often done in dictionaries, thi sign < is  used  freely  in  the
     sense of from. One instance of its use  is  seen  in  the  etymology
  2) According to the etymology given here, the form which anecdote had  in
     French was the plural, a form to be expected  from  the  words  being
     derived from a plural in Latin and in Greek. With  this  informatinon,
     it is easier to understand why it was in its plural form that the word
     made its first appearance in Engish.
  3) The remainder f the  Century  entry  is  easily  understood  with  the
     possible exeption of the abbreviationpriv,.   for privative, a  word
     used in grammar in connection with those  prefixes  which  change  the
     sense of a word from a positive to a negative one, as do un-, il-, in-
     , ir-,  in English.(Compae such  words  as  lawful,  unlawful,  legal,
     illegal; tolerant, intolerant, regular, irregular). Greek made use  of
     a prefix of this kind, a-, which might also appear as  an-.  In  Greek
     grammar this prefix is referred to as alpha privative
  It may appear to the beginner that by this time we have  certainly  found
  out all there is to know about anecdote, but we have not.
Here is how the entry looks in the Oxford English dictionary.
Anecdote(                       ). [a fr.  Anecdote,  or  ad.   Its  source,
med. L. Anecdota(see sense I), a. Gr.               Things  unpublished,  f.
                          Published, f.                       To  give  out,
publish, applied by Procopies to his Unpublished Memories of  the  of  the
Emperor Justinian, which consisted chiefly of tales of the private  life  of
the  court;whence  the  application  of  the  name  to  short   stories   or
1) pl. Secret, private, or hitherbo unpublished  narratives  or  details  of
history.  (At  first,  and  how  again  occas.  Used  in  L  form  anecdota(
  ) 1676 MARVELL Mr. Smirke Wks.  1875  IV.41.   A  man  ...  might  make  a
pleasant story of the anecdota of that meeting. 1727. SwiftGulliver  VIII.
230. Those who pretend to write anecdotes, or secret history[...]
  2) The narrative of a detached incident, or of a single event, event told
  as being in itself interesting or striking( At first, An item of gossip)
  1761 Gorke in Ellis Orig.  Left 11. 483. IV. 429. Monsieur  Coccei  will
tell you all the anecdotes of  London  better  then  I  can[...]  1838.  Ht.
Martineau Demerara
  12. He told some anecdotes of Alfreds childhood.  Mod.  An  after-dinner
  b. collect
  1826 Disraeli Viv. Grey 3.  II.  95  A  companion  who  knew  everything,
everyone, full of wit and anecdote.
  3) Comb.  ,  as  anecdote-book,  -loving;anecdote-monger  a  retailer  of

  1) With the information already given,  it  is  easy  to  understand  the
     etymology of this entry. It should be observed that according  to  it,
     anecdote may not have come into English from French, but directly from
     midieval Latin. That  this  source  is  likely  is  suggested  by  the
     spelling the word has in the earliest example  found  of  its  use  in
     English. Had it come from french anecdotes, it is not easy to see  why
     Marvel in 1676 spelled it anecdota. Of course, it may have  come  into
     English both from French and from Latin.
  2) The most noteworthy feature of this entry, and of the dictionary  from
     which it comes, is that the definitions are followed  by  examples  of
     the use of the word in the senses given. These examples all follow the
     same pattern. First comes the date, than the  authors  name  in  small
     capitals, than thie title of  the  work  cited,  usually  abbreviated,
     followed  by  the  number  of  the  page.  The  use  of   illustrative
     quotationsis a marked feature of  historical  dictionaries.  They  are
     given generously in the OED, there being about 1827306 of them in that
     great work.
  It wod be a mistake, however, to conclude that the earliest example given
in the OED for a word in a particular sense is really  the  first  time  the
word uccurs in print. The OED is a remarkable dictionary, but  it  would  bu
much more so if those who collected, material for it had been able  to  find
the very first printed uses of all the words with extremely useful  to  have
such dates as are given, but they should not be misinterpreted.
  3) Under 3 in the above entry there are  given  combinations  into  which
anecdote has entered. The first two of these, anecdote-book,  and  anecdote-
loving,  are  illustrated  by  only  one  example  each.  Neither   of   the
expressions appears to have  been  much  used.  The  same  may  be  said  of
anecdote-monger, which is treated slingtly differently becouse two  examples
of its use were available.
The  modern  American  dictionary  is  typically  a  single  compact  volume
published at a relatively modest price containing:
  1) definitive American spellings;
  2) pronunciation indicated by diacritical markings;
  3) strictly limited etymologies;
  4) numbered senses;
  5) some illustrations;
  6) selective treatment of synonyms and antonyms;
  7) enxyclopedic inclusion of scientific, technological, geofraphical, and
     biographical items.
  The first American dictionaries  were  unpretentious  little  schoolbooks
based chiefly on Johnsons Dictionary of 1775  by  way  of  various  English
abridgments of that work. The most famous work of this class, Noah  Websters
Compedious Dictionary of the English Language(1806) was  an  enlargement  of
Enticks  spelling  Dictionary  (London  1764),   distinguished   from   its
predecessors chiefly by a few encyclopedic  supplements  and  emphasis  upon
its Aericanism. The book was never popular and contributed little either  to
Websters own reputation or to the development of  the  American  dictionary
in general.
  The first important date in American lexicography is 1828. The work  that
makes it important is Noah Websters An American Dictionary of  the  English
Language in  two volumes. Websters book has  many  deficiencies-etymologies
quite untouched by  the  linguistic  sciense  of  the  time,  a  rudimentary
pronunciation system actually inferior to that used by Walker in 1791,  etc.
but in its insistence upon American spellings, in definitions keyed to  the
American scene, and in its illustrative quotatons from the founding  Fathers
of the Republic, it provided the country with the  first  native  dictionary
comparable in  scope  with  that  of  Dr.  Jhonson.  Probably  its  greatest
contribution to succeding American dictionaries was the style of  definition
writing-writing of a clarity and pithiness never approached before its  day.

  The first American lexicographer to hit upon the particular pattern  that
disbinguishes the American dictionary was Websters lifelong  rival,  Joseph
E. Worcesfer. His Comprehensive Pronouncing, and Explanation  Dictionary  of
the English Language(1830), actually  a  thoroughly  revised  abridgment  of
Websters two-volume work of 1828, was characterised  by  the  additions  of
new words, a more conservative spelling, brief,  well  phrased  definitions,
full indication of pronunciation by  means  of  diacritics,  use  of  stress
marks to divide syllables, and lists of synonyms.  Because  it  was  compact
and low priced, it immediately became  popular-far  more  popular  in  fact,
than any of Websters own dictionaries in his own lifetime.
  In the field of unabridged dictionaries, the most important accretion  is
the great /american linguist, William  Dwight  Whitney  and  issued  in  six
volumes. At the moment , the most important  advances  in  lexicography  are
taking place in the field of the abridged collegiate-type dictionaries.
  Meanwhile the scholarly dictionary has not been neglected.  Once the  New
English dictionary Was published, scholarly opinion reealized  the  need  to
supplement it in the various periods of English and particulary in  American
English.  The first of the  proposed  supplements,  edited  by  Sir  William
Graigie and Professor G. R. Hulbert, is the Dictionary of  American  English
on Historical  Princples.,  completed  in  1944.  This  was  followed  by  a
dictionary of Americanisms, edited by Mitford M. Mathews and  publishied  in
1951.  A Middle English Dictionary, a dictionary of Later  Scottish  are  in
preparation, and work on the American Dialect society is now under way.
  1) Dictionaries prooide with various kinds of useful information. Some of
     them, besides entries, have  additional  articles  about  the  English
     language, forms of address, weights and measures,  special  signs  and
     symbols, common given names, some list historical  events,  and  some,
     home remedies and so on.
  2) The  common  reader  turns  to  a  dictionary  far  information  about
     spelling, pronunciation, meaning and proper use of words, He wants  to
     know what is current and respectable. He wants to know facts about any
     language, especially  difference  berween  the  American  and  English
  3) The average purcaser of a dictionary uses it most often, probably,  to
     find out what a word means. As a reader he wants to  know  what  the
     author intended to convey.  As the speaker or writer, he wants to know
     what a word will convey to his editors.  And  this  too,  is  complex,
     subtle and forever changing thing.
  4) Dictionary material which  are  in  different  kinds  of  dictionaries
     widely uses in language investigations by linguists.
  5) Using the dictionary helps us to improve our language. We  learn  more
     and more new words, phrases, set expressions. Our  vocabulary  becomes
     richer and our language becomes more connected and tuneful
                           The list of literature
  1. Readings in Modern English lexicology. -1975
  2. V Kuznetsova. Notes on English lexicology .   1966
  3. I. V. Arnold. The English word .    1986
  4.   . . English Lexicology. .  . 1971.
  5.  Educational book guilt New York 1957
  6. The World Book Encyclopedia. Chcago. London. Sydney. Toronto 1994
  7. The american heritage dictionary.  Second  college  edition.  Houghton
     Misslin. Company Boston. 1983
  8. Websters New world dictionary of the  american  language.  David.  B.
     Guralnik, general editor. 1985
  9. Websters New International Dictionary of the English language. (secon
     edition, unabridged)  G&C.  Merian  Company,  publishers  Springfield,
     Mass. USA. 1958.
 10. The American Heritage Dictionary  of  the  English  language.  William
     Morris. Boston/ New York/ Atlanta/ Geneva/ Dallas/ Palo Alto 1969