Frequently Asked Questions

Contents

  • How do I find out what a word means?

    Start typing the word you want to look up in the dictionary search box. Words will appear under the search box as you type. You can either select one of these suggested words or finish typing the word you want and press "Enter" or the Search button. The best-matching entry will be returned. Have a look in the Other 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.

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  • 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 search 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.

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  • 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, the 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 www.oxforddictionaries.com.

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  • How can I listen to the pronunciation?

    You can hear how words are pronounced in British or American English by clicking or tapping 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.

    You can also focus on the pronunciation of any word you look up by following the link at the bottom of the entry to its pronunciation page. These pages only include pronunciation information, for example this pronunciation page for the verb shake.

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  • What other information can I find out about a word?

    Many entries include synonyms (= words that mean the same thing) and opposites. Key symbols also indicate whether words and meanings are part of the Oxford 3000 list of important words to learn.

    In addition, there are often Usage Notes, which contain lots of different types of information about how the word is used in context, for example the grammar of the word or what other words should be used with it.

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  • How can I find out about the symbols used?

    Symbols and labels used in both the Oxford Advanced Learner's Dictionary and the Oxford Advanced American Dictionary are explained in this Guide to Symbols and Labels.

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

    You can find information about the etymology of words in the Word Origin boxes that can be found at most entries in the Oxford Advanced Learner's Dictionary.

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  • 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.

    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.

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  • How can Oxford Learner's Dictionaries help me expand my vocabulary?

    The Wordlists section contains lists of the Oxford 3000, the Academic Word List, entries with pictures, and entries with usage notes. 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?

    You can also refer to the Topic Dictionary for lists of vocabulary covering a broad range of subject areas. This learning tool contains twenty-four main topics, each containing numerous sublists.

    Another useful tool for building your vocabulary is the My Wordlists feature, available to Premium users. In My Wordlists, you can create your own topic lists and test yourself on the meanings of the words in each list. Find out more about our Premium features here.

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

    Oxford Learner's Dictionaries includes features 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?, Grammar Point, More Like This, and Wordfinder.

    For even more help with writing, including a wide variety of model texts and guidance with how to plan and structure your own writing texts, the Oxford iWriter is available on the Premium website. Find out more about our Premium features here.

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  • How can Oxford Learner's Dictionaries help me with my speaking?

    The Express Yourself usage notes that can be found at many entries in the Oxford Advanced Learner's Dictionary contain lots of useful language for everyday conversations in English. You can find an example of these new notes at the entry for agree.

    For even more help with speaking, including help with British and American pronunciation, everyday conversations and speaking exam practice, the Oxford iSpeaker is available on the Premium website. The iSpeaker contains hundreds of videos to help you with your pronunciation and conversations skills, and you can record and play back your own speaking. Find out more about our Premium features here.

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  • How can I contact the Oxford Learner's Dictionaries team?

    Please see our Contact Us page for details of how you can get in touch with any queries or comments.

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