How To

1. How do I find out what a word means?

Type the word or phrase you're looking for into the search box and press the 'Search' button. The best match will be returned. Have a look in the Search Results list to see other close matches for what you've typed.

If you're using a desktop browser, when you're reading an entry and don't know the meaning of a word in it, double click on the unknown word to look it up.

2. I don't know how to spell this word. How can I look it up?

Don't worry. Spell the word as best as you can in the box. A spellchecker will suggest a list of words that you might be looking for based on what you've typed. Choose your word from that list to go to the entry.

3. How do the editors at OUP decide which words to include in the dictionaries?

The entries in the Oxford Advanced Learner's Dictionary and the Oxford Advanced American Dictionary are chosen on the basis of their frequency and usefulness for learners of English.

Dictionary editors consult a corpus (= a database of real English, spoken and written) to analyse the usage of words. Based on this information, and based on their experience as English teachers, the editors decide which words are important enough to be included in the dictionary.

The size of the English language means that, unfortunately, OALD and OAAD cannot include every word. Some words are excluded because they are rare or specialized.

If you are interested in more unusual or more specialized words, we recommend that you also consult a dictionary that is not designed specifically for learners of English, for example, the Oxford Dictionary of English, or the New Oxford American Dictionary. For information on these and other non-learners' dictionaries, please go to

4. Can I use this website on my smartphone or tablet?

Yes! Everything will now work on your tablet and mobile, including the audio pronunciations. If you find the text a little small to read on your mobile device, you can pinch to zoom in and make the text and other elements larger.

If you would like to use the OALD or OAAD on your smartphone or tablet when you are offline, then why not get our OALD or OAAD app? You can find out more information, and see what other apps are available on the Oxford University ELT apps page.

5. How can I listen to the pronunciation?

You can hear how words are pronounced in British or American English by clicking on the speaker icons within the entries. You can use these as a reliable model to practise your own pronunciation. Pronunciation is also shown in the dictionary using phonetic symbols. If you need help reading these symbols, look at this pronunciation guide.

We have recently adapted our site to work on smartphones and tablets as well as on desktops and laptops, so now you can hear the pronunciation sounds on any device!

6. How do I find synonyms or opposites of a word?

Some entries include synonyms (= words that mean the same thing) and antonyms/opposites. If your word does not include this information, you may be interested in the Oxford Advanced Learner's Dictionary CD-ROM, which has an integrated thesaurus.

7. How can I find out about the origin of a word?

Information on word origins is not currently available on this website. However, this information is available on the Oxford Advanced Learner's Dictionary CD-ROM, and on the OALD app.

8. How does the Word of the Day RSS feed work?

By subscribing to the Word of the Day, you can automatically receive an entry from us every day! Use it to test yourself. Do you know what each word means and how to use it?

If you click on the RSS icon, you will be taken to a page where you need to specify the RSS reader that you want to use to receive the Word of the Day.

9. How can I find out about the symbols used in the dictionary?

Symbols and labels used in the dictionary are explained in this Guide to Labels.

The social bookmarks social media badges provide a way for you to share an entry with your online community or to bookmark it for you to easily find again later.

10. How can I use the Wordlists?

The website contains lists of the Oxford 3000™, Academic Word List words, entries with a picture and entries with a usage note. Narrow down your selection by choosing one of the sections to see a list of entries. Use the wordlists as a study aid. How many words on each list do you already know?

11. How can Oxford Learner's Dictionaries help me with my writing?

All of Oxford Learner's Dictionaries are full of information that can help you to become a better writer in English.

The dictionary entries not only tell you what words mean, they also tell you how words are used. If you want to use a word correctly, look carefully at the grammar information, the example sentences, and the labels which tell you whether a word is formal or informal.

The dictionary also contains thousands of usage notes that will help you build your vocabulary and improve your accuracy. There are several different types of note, including Synonyms, Collocations, Language Bank, Vocabulary Building, Which word?, and Grammar.

For even more help with writing, including a wide variety of model texts, look at the Oxford Writing Tutor in the book version of OALD and OAAD and the Oxford iWriter on the CD-ROMs.

12. How can I contact the Oxford Learner's Dictionaries website team?

Please send any queries and comments to We will try to reply as soon as possible.

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