How To Cite A Dictionary. Online And Print Dictionary Entry Citations

How to cite a dictionary. APA style guidelines and samples

Although starting an essay with a dictionary definition is a cliche, it can sometimes be helpful. Besides, including definitions throughout the paper may be required, so it’s important to learn how to properly cite a dictionary in APA style. In this post, we’ll share the general guidelines, provide examples of in-line citations and reference section entries, as well as share a few extra tips to help with paper writing.

How to cite an online dictionary

Citing an entry in an online dictionary in APA style follows the same basic conventions as citing other online sources. Each entry should include the following information:

  1. Author of the dictionary (typically an organization or publisher)
  2. Year of publication
  3. The term cited
  4. Dictionary name
  5. The publisher (unless already specified)
  6. URL
  7. Retrieval date

Don’t let the lack of a publication date deter you from citing an online dictionary. In place of the year you’d typically include after the author’s name, simply add “n.d.”, which stands for “no date”. You should also add the date you consulted the dictionary, as online publications can change with time. Include “Retrevied Month Date, Year” at the end of the reference list entry before the URL.

Here are a few examples of online dictionary citations:

HarperCollins. (n.d.). Discerning. In Collins. Retrieved January 18, 2024, from

Pearson. (n.d.). Inadvertently. In Longman. Retrieved January 18, 2024, from

For in-line citation, follow these samples:

(HarperCollins, n.d.)

(Pearson, n.d.)

Writing tip from SpeedyPaper

Writing tip from SpeedyPaper:
Pay attention to punctuation and formatting when you cite a dictionary. Remember to add periods and commas and italicize the name of the dictionary.

How to cite a print dictionary

An APA citation for an entry in a print dictionary follows the same basic structure with a few changes, such as edition and page number. Your citation should follow this order:

  1. Author of the dictionary (typically an organization or publisher)
  2. Year of publication
  3. The term cited
  4. Dictionary name
  5. Edition
  6. Page number
  7. The publisher (unless already specified)

Writing tip from SpeedyPaper

Writing tip from SpeedyPaper:
Some dictionaries may list authors for individual terms. In this case, specify the author (Last name, initials) at the beginning of the entry and add the publisher’s name at the end.

Refer to these samples when citing a print dictionary:

HarperCollins. (2019). Breakwater. In Collins English Dictionary (10th ed. p.89).

Pearson Education. (1998). Division. In Longman Active Study Dictionary (3rd ed., p.191).

In-line citations for the same entries would look like this:

(HarperCollins, 2019)

(Pearson Education, 1998)

Writing tip from SpeedyPaper

Writing tip from SpeedyPaper:
You can use automatic citation generators to cite dictionary entries, but carefully check the results to ensure the correct edition, publication date, and page. And if you want to learn how to cite a press release or other sources, check out the SpeedyPaper blog.

Final thoughts

As you can see, citing dictionary definitions is not rocket science, but each entry requires patience and attention to detail, whether you’re using print or online dictionaries. Luckily, you don’t have to struggle with formatting on your own. All you need to do is say, “I want someone to write my coursework”, and SpeedyPaper experts will complete your assignment, along with the reference list.

We can also help with math homeworkpress release citing  and other hard sciences, STEM projects, and more. Reach out, and our support team will find a perfect schoolwork solution for you.

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