3. How Dictionaries are used
For definitions ranges across many types of
words – simple, archaic, slang, idiomatic,
foreign, literary and technical,
Etymology and usage of a word,
Pronunciation and syllabication of a word,
List classes of words,
For visual or illustrated dictionary, provides
text as well as geographical representations,
For dictionary of regionalism, provides
specialized definitions of less universal usage.
5. MAJOR DICTIONARIES USED
IN REFERENCE WORK
depth and breadth of information is the
prime directive rather than currency of
Are the most scholarly and comprehensive
of all dictionaries, sometimes consisting of
many volumes. They emphasize the history
of words and the variety of their uses.
6. General Dictionaries
Are useful when studying a word in
depth, reading or writing about the
literature of another century, or looking
for a quotation containing a particular
Examples: The Oxford English Dictionary,
(20 volumes), The Random House Dictionary
of the English Language, Webster's Third
New International Dictionary of the English
7. General Dictionaries
often called desk dictionaries, list 150,000 to
250,000 words and concentrate largely on
fairly common words and meanings. A good
desk dictionary will serve most reference
needs for writing or reading.
Examples: The American Heritage Dictionary,
The Random House Webster's College
Dictionary, Mirriam-Webster's Collegiate
Dictionary, Concise Oxford English Dictionary.
8. Specialized Word Sources
“less is more” (Dahlin 1999, 33),
The prime directives are not
comprehensiveness and depth of
meaning, but simplicity, ease of use and
frequency of words in daily American
Examples: Macmillan English Dictionary,
NTC’s American English Learner’s Dictionary.
9. Specialized Word Sources
is designed to help you find the right word
at a glance, is more than a reliable resource
of meticulously labeled images—it innovates
by combining dictionary-scale definitions
with exceptional illustrations (
Examples: The Firefly Visual Dictionary (has
35, 000 terms), Ultimate Visual Dictionary, The
Firefly Five Language Visual Dictionary (35, 000
words in English, Spanish, French, German and
10. Specialized Word Sources
“Gated” word dictionaries
dictionaries of slang, jargon, argot,
regionalisms or idioms.
Dictionaries of slang usually collates
colloquialisms recurring within a group.
Example: the multivolume Random
House Historical Dictionary of American
Slang(has 300, 000 slang words).
12. Specialized Word Sources
were created to help poets, song makers,
and verse creators.
Example: The Oxford Rhyming Dictionary
(has 85, 000 words in forty sound group,
but uses British pronunciation).
helps to find the right word, each word is
partnered with strings of synonyms and
Examples: Roget’s International Thesaurus
(6th ed. Has 330, 000 words and phrases),
The Oxford American Writer’s Thesaurus
often in dictionaries to establish the
usage of the word.
Examples: Bartlett’s Familiar Quotations
(17th ed., 25, 000 quotations), The Random
House Webster’s Quotationary (has 20, 000
quotations arranged by subject)…
are an alphabetical enumeration of major
words in a book or a collection of books
by an author, along with the immediate
context of a word, Shakespeare and the
Examples: 9 volume compilation, A
Complete and Systematic Concordance to
the Works of Shakespeare, or single-
volume version The Harvard Concordance
17. Style and Usage of Words
words can come alive with the right
grammar and punctuation.
Reference Librarians must be prepared
for 2 types of questions in the field:
Grammar and punctuation,
Style and citation guidance.
Examples: Chicago Manual of Style, MLA
(Modern Language Association) Handbook
for Writers of Research Papers.
18. Children’s dictionaries
reference world of word sources for
children focuses on all-purpose
Market for children’s dictionaries: school
library, the public library and the family
Examples: A Student’s Dictionary,
Macmillan Dictionary for Children.
19. Bilingual Dictionaries
has variety of unabridged, dual, pocket-
sized, and desk dictionaries.
Examples: Cassell’s Latin Dictionary, The
Oxford Starter series, Albanian-
English/English-Albanian Practical Dictionary.
20. Special Constituency
two major constituencies for whom
authoritative dictionaries are available;
the visual and the hearing impaired.
Examples: The Oxford Large Print
Dictionary, The American Sign Language
Dictionary Unabridged (has more than 7,
000 sign entries accompanied with 12,
21. Subject dictionaries
medical, legal, business, scientific,
technical, computer, mathematical, etc.
Examples: Harvard Dictionary of Music,
Black’s Law Dictionary, Stedman’s Medical
22. COLLECTION DEVELOPMENT
Selection and Keeping current
Reading professional reviews is the most
Referring to regularly updated reference
Refereeing to subject-specific
Subscribing for in-depth look at
Individual dictionary update.
23. COLLECTION DEVELOPMENT
Evaluating Word Sources
Authority and understandability are the
prime criteria for evaluating a word
Other criteria: currency, cost, format,
scope, comprehensiveness, and value-
Acquisition of word sources
Not all book titled “dictionaries” are
They are merely alluding to the
alphabetical arrangement of a book.
E.g. A New Dictionary of Irish History
Lends little (meaning) of words, (gives) a
great deal of history instead.