how to use a dictionary

By Sara Powell,2014-10-12 15:22
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How to Use a Dictionary

    Edited by Imperatrix, Nathan Wong, Ben Rubenstein, Jen and 27 others

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    Of the approximately大约;近似地 1 million words in the English language, the

    [1]average English speaker knows 60,000 of those words, A dictionary can be a

    very handy tool. Besides helping with spelling and word meanings, being able to use a dictionary effectively and regularly is a perfect way to improve your English language skills through the dictionary's range of other helpful information on everyday language usage and grammar. This article will explain how to make the most of using your dictionary.


Dictionary Help

    Sample Dictionary Definitions

    Sample Vocabulary Activities

Using a Dictionary

     Keep a good dictionary near where you study, work, or read

    ; Purchase购买 a quality dictionary. If you don't already own a good

    dictionary, consider purchasing one during sale time. It's also a good idea to

    upgrade升级 your dictionary every now and then so that you have access to

    the latest new words that are added to the dictionary every year.

     Consider purchasing specialist dictionaries if they'd be useful in your study or career. Some examples of specialist dictionaries include language dictionaries, technical dictionaries, rhymes押韵, crossword纵横字谜, subject dictionaries (for

    example, for math, chemistry, biology, horticulture, etc.), illustrated图解的

    dictionaries (excellent for learning another language or for technical knowledge), slang and idioms, etc.

     Note that many countries have their own native dictionaries that might be more helpful than sourcing a dictionary from just anywhere, such as the Macquarie dictionary in Australia, Oxford dictionary in England, Webster's dictionary in the United States, etc.

     Some schools, universities and workplaces prefer the use of one particular dictionary. This is for reasons of maintaining a consistent style and understanding among everyone using them; make sure you use the right one for your assignments, editing, and reports.

     Familiarize yourself with your dictionary. Dictionaries vary in approach.

    The best way to learn how to use your particular dictionary effectively is to read

    its introductory section where you'll find out how the entries条目 are arranged.

    The introductory section of your dictionary will explain important information

    such as the abbreviations缩写词 and pronunciation symbols used throughout

    the entries. There may also be information on pronunciation of words with

    similar spellings; this can be helpful if you have only heard a word and you're

    not sure of its spelling. For example, if you hear "not", it might also be "knot"

    but the "k" is silent, and this list can help you with suggestions.

     Know how to look up a word.

     Know how to look up a word. When you come across a word you don't

    recognize or know the meaning of, keep a note of it. When you get around to

    looking it up, here is the sequence顺序 to follow:

     Proceed to the letter of the alphabet 字母表that your word begins with. For

    example, "dog" begins with "d". Don't forget the possible spellings for trickier 棘手

    words, such as "gnome土地神" begins with a "g", or "psychology" begins with a

    "p", or "knock" begins with a "k", etc.

     Check for the guide words. These are located in the upper corner of each page and give you an indication of how close you are to locating your word, speeding up the process of going through the pages.

     Once close, use the second letter of your word to run down the page and locate your word. For example, if you were looking for the word "futile", "u" is the second letter. Perhaps you will see "furrow/futtock" in the upper left corner of the left page and "futtock plate/gaberlunzie" in the upper right corner of the right page.

    Now you know that "futile" is going to be located on one of these two pages.

     Scan down the list of entry words moving past "Furry" and "Fuse" and "Fuss".

    Since the example word begins with "Fut", go past all the "Fur" and all the "Fus" words alphabetically until you reach the "FUT" area of the page. In this example, move right down through "Fut" and "Futhark" and this is at last, where you will find "futile".

     Know how to make the most of your find. Once you've located the word,

    there are several useful elements要素 that you can discover about the word

    from the dictionary entry. Read the information given about this entry, and

    depending on your dictionary, you might find many things:

     A definition of the word.

     One or more pronunciations. Look for a pronunciation key near the beginning of the dictionary to help you interpret解释 the written pronunciation. Learn how to

    use the stress marks, as these will aid your pronunciation. The stress mark ' is [2]place just prior在前 to the syllable音节 where the stress is placed.

     Capitalization用大写, where relevant有重大作用的.

     Prepositions, such as "in", "on", etc. and their use with the word in question.

     Irregular endings for verbs.

     Synonyms近义词 and antonyms反义词. You can use these in your writing, or

    as further clues towards the word's meaning.

     An etymology语源学, derivation词源, or history of the word. Even if you don't know Latin or Ancient Greek, you may find that this information helps you to remember or understand the word.

     Examples or citations引用 of how the word is used. Use these to add context to the meaning of the word.

     Derived源于 terms and inflections (I am, you are, etc).

     Phrases or idioms associated with the word, and slang usage. In addition, the dictionary may explain whether a word is formal or informal.

     Plurals 复数of nouns.

     Near neighbor words that might be related, such as "futility".

     Spellings in other English (US English, British English, Australian English, etc.)

     Think about how the information you've found relates to the word as

    you encountered遇到 it. If there are multiple多重的 definitions, decide

    which one matches your source or context for the word and notice how the

    different definitions are related to one another. In an English dictionary, the

    most common meaning is usually placed first where there are multiple


     Try using your new word in a sentence. If it's difficult to spell, write it a few times to help yourself remember it.

     Use a picture dictionary to broaden your technical or specific knowledge

     Use your dictionary for other purposes than looking up a word. Many

    dictionaries come with an array of other useful information. Some of the

    information that you might find in your dictionary includes:

     Standard letters for jobs, RSVPs, filing complaints, official writing, etc.

     Maps and geographical information.

     Statistics统计数据 on population.

     Weights, volume and measurements.

     Lists of countries, cities, capitals, etc.

     Flags of countries, states, provinces, regions, etc.

     Lists of famous or historical people.

     Lists of facts.

     Learn how to use an online dictionary. Online dictionaries are easy.

    Choose a suitable free online dictionary, or a subscription签署 one if your

    place of work or study subscribes订阅, and simply type in the word you're

    looking for. The search engine will return the word to you and the definition

    section should contain most of the elements discussed above. Note that free

    services may not be as comprehensive综合的 as a subscription or book

    dictionary, so keep this in mind when you're not sure that you've found the right


     Make use of the audio content provided with online dictionaries. This can help considerably when you're unsure how to pronounce the word.

     To use Google to find online definitions, type: "define: futile". The search engine will only look for definitions.

    ( Have fun using a dictionary. The last step is the most fun simply

    browse浏览 a dictionary to enlighten yourself about new words now and then.

    Just open the dictionary up to any page and scan the page for words that are

    unfamiliar or seem interesting. Pinpoint them, read the definition and try to add

    the new word to your thinking or talking during the next few days until it

    becomes a remembered part of your natural vocabulary.

     Play the dictionary game with friends. This consists of getting some friends together and a dictionary. The first player looks up a challenging word and uses it in a sentence. The other players have to guess if the use of the word is accurate精确的 or an outright fabrication制造. If a player guesses correctly, it's their turn


     Another dictionary game: Each player chooses a word which should be familiar to the other players, then reads out the dictionary definition. The other players compete to guess the word as quickly as possible - perhaps even shouting out while the definition is still being read.


A dictionary is one of the most valuable tools available for improving your English language skills. Here are some ways to maximize a dictionary's usefulness.


     If you can't seem to locate your word, make sure you're spelling the word correctly. For example, you won't find "isotope" if you're looking in the A section, which you might be tempted to do if, for example, your chemistry teacher speaks with a bit of a southern accent!

     Don't be afraid to study the etymology of a word. Since much of our language is derived from Greek or Latin, you'll often find yourself learning root words from them, but after you have, you'll find that it can be easier to understand words that are new to you simply by looking at the structure of the word.

     Language is defined to a large degree by usage. You can help keep our language alive by using more of it. Try to occasionally use words that are "getting dusty" either in written or verbal communication. English is the closest thing to a universal language on Earth, and it deserves a chance to thrive. Using words like "dude" a little bit less can help to keep our language healthy.

     If you're having trouble spelling a word, try the spell-checker in a word

processor and see what it suggests.

     A dictionary is a good survival tool. Always take a big dictionary with you wherever you go. If you are stranded on an island, the pages can be glued粘合

    together to form a basic shelter, and help you start a fire. If your book is made of metal, it can be used as a mirror to signal your position to planes.

     Even though it's easy to check words using an online dictionary, the free ones don't always provide enough information, so it pays to always have a hard copy dictionary on your bookshelf to call upon whenever needed.

     Old dictionaries make excellent door stops or hollow books.

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