Questions about English dictionaries

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29
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13answers
4k views

What is a verb for “illusion”?

What is a verb for illusion? I want to use it in a sentence like the following: The optical effect [illudes] my perception of its real shape. But illude does not exist. But I cannot find illude ...
27
votes
3answers
3k views

Regulatory bodies and authoritative dictionaries for English

Some languages have a "regulatory body" issuing recommendations and guidelines regarding the use of that language. For example in the case of Spanish it's the Real Academia Española whose status is ...
25
votes
2answers
4k views

How and when did American spelling supersede British spelling in the US?

Considering that Webster published his first dictionary in 1806, is there a recognised tipping point (year, decade, etc.) that marked the move from traditional British spelling to Webster's American? ...
22
votes
5answers
2k views

Is “iff” considered a real word or just an abbreviation?

I wonder if "iff" is considered a real word (as LEO says) or is it just an abbreviation (as in Wiktionary)?
17
votes
1answer
994 views

What is the meaning of the word “inriation”?

I looked up the definition of the word elation in Webster's Revised Unabridged 1913 dictionary and found the following definition (Page: 476): Elation E*la"tion (?), n. [L. elatio. See ...
16
votes
7answers
5k views

Another meaning of the vulgar word “slut”

I guess people who speak American and Philippine English will unanimously agree that the word "slut" is a very offensive term referring to a promiscuous woman. However, Merriam-Webster and Oxford ...
14
votes
5answers
3k views

Where can I obtain an English dictionary with structured data?

I would like to download an English dictionary -- not just a word list -- in a structured format such as TXT, XML, or SQL. Specifically, I need phonetic pronunciation and parts of speech (definition ...
11
votes
4answers
5k views

Is “criterions” a valid plural for “criterion”?

Is criterions a valid plural for criterion? Dictionary.com says it is, but Oxford does not confirm or reject it.
10
votes
4answers
2k views

Why can’t one be “trepid”?

Why can someone be intrepid but not trepid ? The Free Dictionary and Merriam-Webster both consider trepid to be a real word, but my computer’s little spell-checker program does not recognize it as ...
10
votes
6answers
21k views

“Smooths” versus “Smoothes”

I am interested in the rapid rise (since about 1993) in frequency of the spelling smoothes as against smooths. An Ngram Viewer graph tracking the frequency of usage of the two words from 1800 to ...
10
votes
3answers
688 views

Is 'compatriate' really an English word?

I recently saw the word 'compatriate' used in a newspaper article. Upon looking it up, suspecting a typo (or even an eggcorn: it is easy to see how compatriot would be mixed-up with expatriate etc.), ...
8
votes
7answers
2k views

What does “akin to” mean in etymologies in dictionary entries?

Many etymologies in dictionaries say that some word is “akin to” a word in some other language. For example, here is part of the Merriam-Webster Online Dictionary entry for salt: Main Entry: 1salt ...
8
votes
3answers
535 views

Different syllabic boundaries in various dictionaries?

Consider, for instance, the word "university": American Heritage: u·ni·ver·si·ty Collins Cobuild: uni|ver|sity Merriam Webster: uni·ver·si·ty As you see, syllabic boundaries differ. I read ...
8
votes
4answers
15k views

Syllable division of VCV pattern in words such as “salad” and “lemon”

In words such as salad /sæləd/, you have a VCV pattern (vowel-consonant-vowel), in which the first vowel is short. The syllable division of such words is generally done after the consonant, i.e, as ...
8
votes
4answers
5k views

What is the best paper-based dictionary? [closed]

I'd like to have a dictionary in paper that won't be very big, at least there should be one tome, and it should be something like thefreedictionary.com but in paper, to use it offline. Please advise.
8
votes
3answers
2k views

Online rhyme dictionary/rhyming resource that lists rhymes by vowel sound (assonance)

Anyone know of an online rhyming dictionary or rhyme resource that lists rhymes by vowel sound (assonance)? RhymeZone.com doesn't have such an option.
8
votes
1answer
463 views

American refusal of the IPA: why?

Are there any historical or political reasons for the rather consistent refusal of the International Phonetic Alphabet on the part of American academics? Did Mark Twain's ...
7
votes
2answers
260 views

Percentages of meanings in an English dictionary

Often when you look for some new word in a dictionary, you will find many definitions or meanings of the one word. For example when you look for a word to in Oxford Advanced Learner's Dictionary you ...
7
votes
5answers
2k views

Is there such thing as an online preposition dictionary?

Is there such a thing as an online preposition dictionary? For example, I want to use the word "interpretation" but I am not sure of its preposition. I don't know if the correct preposition should ...
6
votes
3answers
830 views

What part of speech is “methinks”?

Dictionaries call this word a verb, but it doesn't seem to behave like any other verb in the English language. Another question on this site calls it a “conjoined pronoun-verb combination”, which ...
6
votes
3answers
2k views

Why isn’t “hermeticity” easily found in the dictionaries?

The word hermeticity as (for the lack of better definition, hence the question) “the quality of being hermetic” (not to be confused with mathematical hermiticity, which is also absent from the general ...
6
votes
3answers
241 views

Are published books to be considered an official reference for spelling? [duplicate]

Possible Duplicate: Regulatory bodies and authoritative dictionaries for English Many times I searched across several books for the usage of some words and many times I've found my results ...
6
votes
2answers
25k views

Why are “scaring” and “scarring” confused by some dictionaries? [closed]

Scaring is related to the word scare, while scarring is related to the word scar. Why is it that some dictionaries get these two words confused? For example, when you use Mac OS X Lion's lookup ...
5
votes
16answers
843 views

What is the word or term used to describe a person who intentionally ignores a rule/regulation/order

There is a girl in my lab who, despite having been corrected numerous times in the past, continues to disregard the lab procedures regarding chain of command. She constantly goes over supervisors' ...
5
votes
4answers
397 views

Source for etymological study

It has always been interesting for me to know how words are made and where they are coming from. Is there any reliable source for etymological studies? any books, or dictionaries out there?
5
votes
3answers
12k views

Largest open-source dictionary w/ brief definitions (not wiktionary)

What's the largest open-source dictionary that includes brief definitions of each word? Wiktionary is a great resource but: There are over 200K words in the scowl list that aren't in wiktionary. ...
5
votes
4answers
265 views

What are comparative strong points of online dictionaries and other useful reference sites?

NOTE: This question was composed in an attempt to follow Guidelines for Great Subjective Questions. I hope I do not fail them too hard, but if you see how the question can be improved please edit ...
5
votes
1answer
2k views

Which of these meanings for the word “pet” came first?

The word "pet" has a few different definitions (my own paraphrase): n: An animal kept for companionship. v: To affectionately caress. My question is, which of these usages originated first? Do we ...
5
votes
4answers
9k views

Is “pronunciate” a word?

Is "pronunciate" a word? At first it doesn't seem to be, but why not? "Pronunciation" and "pronunciative" seem to be words, so it would seem natural that "pronunciate" would be. After Googling, I ...
5
votes
1answer
6k views

Is it all right to use “in hopes of” to mean “with the aim of”?

Recently I browsed through the definition of hope in New Oxford American Dictionary (provided by Apple in the dictionary app) to double confirm with its usage as I answered a word-choice question and ...
5
votes
2answers
827 views

Why some abbreviations ended with a period, but some not?

I have just bought an Oxford Advanced Learner's Dictionary. This is it's first page showing some abbreviations used in the dictionary. My question is: why some abbreviations ended with a period ...
4
votes
5answers
413 views

On what juristic basis are students corrected when making mistakes in an English class? [closed]

I've learned that there is no authoritative dictionary for English. I wonder on what juristic basis students are corrected when making mistakes in an English class. How can someone say that whatever ...
4
votes
3answers
342 views

What were the British equivalents of Webster's dictionary and the Simplified Spelling Board that standardized spelling and usage?

I am familiar with questions about when to double 'l' and differences between British and American spellings. However, I stumbled across this image. As you can see, several words end in the double ...
4
votes
3answers
672 views

Which flavor of English (British vs. American) first had standard modern spellings?

Which flavor, British English or American English, first standardised its modern spellings? I'm mostly interested in the direction of alteration; for example, was the u dropped from colour or was the ...
4
votes
4answers
1k views

Is there any online phrase dictionary available?

I use WordWeb which is available online for vocabulary. But, is there any equivalent for getting the meaning and origin of phrases ?
4
votes
2answers
112 views

“Personified” in an OED definition

While writing an answer to this question, I looked up the word ennui in the full version of the Oxford English Dictionary. (I'd give you a link, but I access the OED through my local library's proxy ...
4
votes
1answer
95 views

Where does “acutilobate” originate from?

I see the claim that acutilobate is a “dictionary-only” word, for example seen in the 1913 Webster’s dictionary. How would a word get into a dictionary that only appears in dictionaries and is not ...
4
votes
0answers
39 views

Looking for a dictionary that would provide information on the “flavor” of the word [closed]

I'm working on my chatbot program and it could really use an extension to its vocabulary. Currently it picks words out of a list of just a few hundred, all entries containing data like the word ...
3
votes
9answers
798 views

What word describes interpreting evidence in such a way as to reach a desired conclusion?

Does anyone know what it's called when you interpret evidence to reach the conclusion you want?
3
votes
5answers
3k views

US Equivalent to the Oxford English Dictionary

Apologies if this question is inappropriate for the site. In the US, what would be equivalent to the OED? The de facto standard. I know there's the New Oxford American Dictionary but in the US does ...
3
votes
3answers
666 views

Is there an 'official' way to suggest a new word become part of the English language? [duplicate]

Possible Duplicate: Regulatory bodies and authoritative dictionaries for English Creating a new word What are the criteria to adopt new words into English? I've always been told, at ...
3
votes
2answers
760 views

Order of definitions in dictionaries

Are dictionary definitions for words with multiple meanings ordered based on chronology, hierarchy, or frequency of usage? Is/was there a standard format?
3
votes
2answers
960 views

Which was the first dictionary and how was it decided which words went into it?

I've heard the riddle: "If Websters' was the first dictionary where did he get all the words from?" It has quite since intrigued me, honestly. Which was the first English language dictionary and how ...
3
votes
3answers
476 views

Is it possible to form adjective “morally” by deriving it from the noun “moral” (as in “of the story”)?

Recently I used the word morally as an adjective formed from the noun moral. The concept I wanted to describe was that some statement is morally correct if you are able to agree with it intuitively ...
3
votes
2answers
718 views

Is esquivalience now a bona fide word?

Today, I came across WP's entry for the word esquivalience: "Esquivalience" is a fictitious entry in the New Oxford American Dictionary (NOAD), which was designed and included to protect copyright ...
3
votes
4answers
484 views

What is a “sounds like” thesaurus called?

A dictionary contains word definitions. A thesaurus contains words that mean the same (synonyms). I'm looking for a name for a word dictionary that will give you rhymes (or "sounds like") of a word. ...
3
votes
1answer
601 views

What is the accepted definition of the following words in this sentence?

Quoting DailyWTF: The Matrix! No, not the the uburbulous deprodication errebelously conceived by “The Architect”. What is the accepted definition of the following words in the above quote? ...
3
votes
5answers
942 views

Is there a specific word for a list of [word + how to use it in a sentence]?

Like a dictionary, but instead of a list of words and their definitions, it contains words and how to use them in a sentence. If there is no such word, is there a specific word for a dictionary that ...
3
votes
1answer
155 views

From a non-native's standpoint: Which dictionary should I pay attention to when I find semantically contradictory definitions of a word?

[The following is one of dozens of cases I come across on a daily basis] By accident, I have recently noticed that the phrasal verb go through (as in experience) -- which I've been using so far in my ...
3
votes
2answers
637 views

Is there any dictionary that decomposes an English word into prefix, root, and suffix?

Is there any dictionary that shows the decomposition of each word into these three parts, if application at all? For instance, "incapable" is divided into prefix "in", root "cap", and suffix "able". ...