Usage Notes

In the Oxford Advanced Learner's Dictionary and the Oxford Advanced American Dictionary you will find many notes on various aspects of usage in English. They will help you to learn more about the word you have looked up, or to learn other related vocabulary. They are an excellent way to expand your vocabulary!

What are the different usage notes?
AWL Collocations

These notes only appear in the Oxford Advanced American Dictionary. They help you to use words from the Academic Word List in typical combinations and phrases. For example at the entry for accurate, you can see example sentences showing how this AWL word is typically used.

British / American

These notes only appear in the Oxford Advanced Learner's Dictionary. They explain differences between British and American usage. For example at the entry for holiday, you will find a note about the words "holiday" and "vacation" in British and American English.

Collocations

These notes show useful words and phrases connected with particular topics, and a selection of verbs to use with those words and phrases. For example at the entry for job, you can see a Collocations note that deals with the topic of jobs, including getting a job and leaving a job.

Culture

These notes only appear in the Oxford Advanced Learner's Dictionary. They give extra information about a subject, taken from the Oxford Guide to British and American Culture. For example at the entry for lawyer, there is an article about the legal system in Britain and the United States.

Express Yourself

These notes only appear in the Oxford Advanced Learner's Dictionary. They help you to find the right thing to say in everyday situations. For example at the entry for advice, you will find a note containing useful language for giving somebody advice.

Grammar Point

These notes help explain points of grammar that often cause problems. For example at the entry for many, you will find a grammar note about the usage of "much/many", "a lot of" and "lots of".

Language Bank

These notes show you how to express similar ideas in a variety of ways, particularly in writing. For example at the entry for contrast, there is a note containing useful language for highlighting differences.

More About

These notes give you more information about an aspect of life or language in Britain and America and show you the correct words to use. For example at the entry for exam, you can see a note about the use of the words "exam", "examination", "test" and "quiz".

Synonyms / Thesaurus

These notes show the differences between groups of words with similar meanings. The words in each group are given in order of frequency - from the most common to the least common. For example at the entry for beautiful, there is a note including a group of synonyms or near-synonyms.

Vocabulary Building

These notes help you to choose more interesting and varied words to use and so increase your vocabulary. For example at the entry for break, you will find a Vocabulary Building note that gives a variety of verbs that mean "break".

Which Word?

These notes show the differences between words that are often confused. For example at the entry for as, you will find a note that explains the difference between "as" and "like".

Word Families

These notes only appear in the Oxford Advanced Learner's Dictionary. They show the different forms of words. For example at the entry for able, you can see a note containing different words belonging to this word family and their part of speech, such as "ability" and "disabled".

Wordfinder

These notes only appear in the Oxford Advanced Learner's Dictionary. They help you to find words that are related in meaning to the word you are looking up. For example at the entry for adventure, there is a note containing a group of related words.

Where are the usage notes in the dictionary entries?

The usage notes are collapsed by default in dictionary entries, and at first you will see the Usage Note heading only, with a "+" symbol next to it. For example at the entry for job, there are several notes including a synonyms and a collocations note. Clicking or tapping on any of these will expand the full note, and clicking or tapping again will close it.

How can I use the Usage Notes to expand my vocabulary?

Our usage notes are an excellent way to expand your vocabulary, because they contain lots of information about how different words and phrases are really used in everyday English. They usually contain extra example phrases or sentences, and they often compare groups of words to show you similarities and differences.

You will find that more frequent and useful words, such as the words on the Oxford 3000 list, often contain more than one usage note, so these entries are a good place to look for further information if you are writing an essay in English, or if you are preparing for an English exam.