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      • The general dictionaries are of two types: (a) Academic or normative dictionary, (b) Referential or overall descriptive dictionary. The academic dictionary gives the lexical stock of the standard language. The aim of this dictionary is to present the language as it is expected to be and stop it from decay.
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  2. The word dictionary comes from the Latin dictio, “the act of speaking,” and dictionarius, “a collection of words.” Although encyclopaedias are a different type of reference work, some use the word dictionary in their names (e.g., biographical dictionaries). Basically, a dictionary lists a set of words with information about them.

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    • Comparative Form of Adjectives
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    MLA publications generally follow the spelling preferences listed in Merriam Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary, available online, and Merriam Webster’s Unabridged, available by subscription. This means that we follow the first-listed spelling when there are variants—that is, when a word can be spelled more than one way. For example, we use the word a...

    Spelling checkers won’t help you when it comes to compound words, or words formed by more than one word or part of a word—an especially thorny issue for writers. Compound words might be “open” (that is, treated as more than one word: out loud), “closed” (treated as one word: outpost), or hyphenated (out-box). Dictionaries usually list the most comm...

    The dictionary is one place you can look to see if a word should be capitalized. For example, did you know that Band-Aid and Kleenex are trademarks and thus capitalized? Or that Old Worldas a noun meaning “the European Continent” is capitalized? Every copyeditor worth his or her salt does, but most spelling checkers are blissfully ignorant of such ...

    If an author’s name varies in the works you consult, the MLA Handbookadvises you to use the variant preferred by the dictionary of your choice. This simple guideline is sufficient for student writers. That said, an author’s name can differ for various reasons, and scholars and publishers have a host of considerations when deciding on the spelling o...

    The dictionary can also offer useful guidance on which preposition to use with a word—for example, the different meanings of “consist of” and “consist in” and the fact that it is idiomatic to write “prejudiced against” (not “toward”) and “equivalent to” (not “with”). This guidance sometimes appears in the definition, but sometimes it can only be in...

    To italicize, or not to italicize? MLA style recommends that writers using terms from a language other than English in their prose italicize them: Since a language of origin (“French”) appears beside the definition for mise en abyme, treat it as a foreign term and italicize it. In contrast, a part of speech appearing beside the definition, as for m...

    You probably would never write, “My dog is specialer to me than my pet goldfish,” but sometimes choosing the right comparative form of an adjective isn’t so cut-and-dried (or is it “cut-and-dry”?). Various usage guides, including The Chicago Manual of Style, offer advice based on syllables (one: usually add -er; two: coin toss; three: precede with ...

    We live in an age of ubiquitous e-. Merriam-Webster’s lists e- (which stands for “electronic”) as a “combining form.” This means e- functions not on its own but only as part of another word. The dictionary notes, moreover, that use of e- as a combining form derives from the word “e-mail.” Some other e- words are listed, including “e-book” and “e-co...

  3. People in English-speaking countries have a first name (also called a given name ), which is chosen by their parents, and a surname (also called a family name or last name ), which is the last name of their parents or one of their parents. Many people also have a middle name, which is also chosen by their parents.

  4. Many early dictionaries were little more than enlarged glossaries, but from the time of Suidas onward there began to appear a type of dictionary—now called encyclopaedic —that added to the definition and etymology of a word a description of the functions of the thing or idea it named.

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