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Key facts CEFR level: C2 What's this? Scale score: Test format: Computer or paper-based No. About 4 hours. A C2 Proficiency qualification shows that you can: He also added American words, like "skunk" and "squash", that did not appear in British dictionaries. At the age of seventy, Webster published his dictionary in ; it sold copies. In , the second edition was published in two volumes. In a general dictionary, each word may have multiple meanings.

Some dictionaries include each separate meaning in the order of most common usage while others list definitions in historical order, with the oldest usage first. In many languages, words can appear in many different forms, but only the undeclined or unconjugated form appears as the headword in most dictionaries. Dictionaries are most commonly found in the form of a book, but some newer dictionaries, like StarDict and the New Oxford American Dictionary are dictionary software running on PDAs or computers. There are also many online dictionaries accessible via the Internet. According to the Manual of Specialized Lexicographies , a specialized dictionary , also referred to as a technical dictionary, is a dictionary that focuses upon a specific subject field.

Following the description in The Bilingual LSP Dictionary , lexicographers categorize specialized dictionaries into three types: A multi-field dictionary broadly covers several subject fields e. For example, the language Inter-Active Terminology for Europe is a multi-field dictionary, the American National Biography is a single-field, and the African American National Biography Project is a sub-field dictionary.

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In terms of the coverage distinction between "minimizing dictionaries" and "maximizing dictionaries", multi-field dictionaries tend to minimize coverage across subject fields for instance, Oxford Dictionary of World Religions and Yadgar Dictionary of Computer and Internet Terms [21] whereas single-field and sub-field dictionaries tend to maximize coverage within a limited subject field The Oxford Dictionary of English Etymology. Another variant is the glossary , an alphabetical list of defined terms in a specialized field, such as medicine medical dictionary.

The simplest dictionary, a defining dictionary , provides a core glossary of the simplest meanings of the simplest concepts. From these, other concepts can be explained and defined, in particular for those who are first learning a language.


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In English, the commercial defining dictionaries typically include only one or two meanings of under words. With these, the rest of English, and even the most common English idioms and metaphors , can be defined. Lexicographers apply two basic philosophies to the defining of words: Noah Webster , intent on forging a distinct identity for the American language, altered spellings and accentuated differences in meaning and pronunciation of some words.

This is why American English now uses the spelling color while the rest of the English-speaking world prefers colour. Similarly, British English subsequently underwent a few spelling changes that did not affect American English; see further at American and British English spelling differences. Large 20th-century dictionaries such as the Oxford English Dictionary OED and Webster's Third are descriptive, and attempt to describe the actual use of words.

Most dictionaries of English now apply the descriptive method to a word's definition, and then, outside of the definition itself, and information alerting readers to attitudes which may influence their choices on words often considered vulgar, offensive, erroneous, or easily confused. American Heritage goes further, discussing issues separately in numerous "usage notes.

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Because of the widespread use of dictionaries in schools, and their acceptance by many as language authorities, their treatment of the language does affect usage to some degree, with even the most descriptive dictionaries providing conservative continuity. In the long run, however, the meanings of words in English are primarily determined by usage, and the language is being changed and created every day.

The roots of language are irrational and of a magical nature. Sometimes the same dictionary can be descriptive in some domains and prescriptive in others. A historical dictionary is a specific kind of descriptive dictionary which describes the development of words and senses over time, usually using citations to original source material to support its conclusions.

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In contrast to traditional dictionaries, which are designed to be used by human beings, dictionaries for natural language processing NLP are built to be used by computer programs. The final user is a human being but the direct user is a program. Such a dictionary does not need to be able to be printed on paper. The structure of the content is not linear, ordered entry by entry but has the form of a complex network see Diathesis alternation. Because most of these dictionaries are used to control machine translations or cross-lingual information retrieval CLIR the content is usually multilingual and usually of huge size.

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In order to allow formalized exchange and merging of dictionaries, an ISO standard called Lexical Markup Framework LMF has been defined and used among the industrial and academic community. In many languages, such as the English language, the pronunciation of some words is not consistently apparent from their spelling. In these languages, dictionaries usually provide the pronunciation. Yet others use their own pronunciation respelling systems without diacritics: Some online or electronic dictionaries provide audio recordings of words being spoken.


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The age of the Internet brought online dictionaries to the desktop and, more recently, to the smart phone. David Skinner in noted that "Among the top ten lookups on Merriam-Webster Online at this moment are 'holistic, pragmatic, caveat, esoteric' and 'bourgeois.

There exist a number of websites which operate as online dictionaries, usually with a specialized focus. Some of them have exclusively user driven content, often consisting of neologisms.

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Some of the more notable examples include:. From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. For other uses, see Dictionary disambiguation.