I read about this type of definition in a linguistics glossary.

Analytic definition: a description of the range of reference of a lexical unit. This description is made up of ageneric term identifying the broad category to which it belongs, and modifying word or phrase which specifies its obligatory components of meaning, thus.
For example

  • doctor—"a person licensed to practice medicine"
  • eat—"to take into the body, through the mouth, something which may be thought of as food"

In contrast with

  • doctor—"physician; surgeon"
  • eat—"consume; devour"

... Defining a lexical unit using a synonym or generic term alone is not sufficient to distinguish it from similar words.

I searched online, but only found an etymological dictionary.

Do you know if a dictionary like the one I described above exists?

  • Dictionary.com has: doctor noun 1. a person licensed to practice medicine, as a physician, surgeon, dentist, or veterinarian.>> AHD and RHK Webster's aren't too different. The best of both worlds. Commented Apr 30, 2014 at 14:44
  • 1
    Any Big Fat Dictionary will give you several entries for common keywords which distinguish the various "ranges of reference" a word may have. Commented Apr 30, 2014 at 15:05
  • Any Advanced Learner's Dictionary will provide detailed explanations including how the word is used in sentences. Just visit a good bookshop or Amazon online.
    – Mari-Lou A
    Commented May 1, 2014 at 8:50


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