How to Cite a Dictionary in MLA

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Published August 10, 2012. Updated September 15, 2021.

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Dictionary – Definitions in print, on a website, or on an online database.


Citing a dictionary entry from a website or print book

Dictionary Citation Structure:

“Title of Entry.” Title of Dictionary, edition (if applicable), Publisher, date published, page number or URL.

*Title note: If the word you are citing includes multiple parts of speech and/or definitions, be sure to include the specific definition you are citing as part of the title. The part of speech should be abbreviated and italicized and included after the word, preceded by a comma. The definition number should follow the part of speech in parentheses.

For example, “Title of entry, Abbreviated part of speech. (Definition number).”

 

Dictionary Citation Example:

“Food Bank.” Cambridge Dictionary, Cambridge University Press, dictionary.cambridge.org/us/dictionary/english/food-bank.

 

Dictionary In-text Citation Structure:

(“Title of Entry”)

Dictionary In-text Citation Example:

(“Food Bank”)

 


Published August 10, 2012. Updated May 29, 2021.

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How do I cite a dictionary in MLA?

To cite a dictionary in MLA style, you need to have basic information including the entry’s headword (as it appears), part of speech, the title of the dictionary, and when applicable, the URL. If the definition lists multiple possible definitions, you also need to include the definition number. Templates for an in-text citation and a works-cited-list reference for an online dictionary entry are given below, with examples:

In-text citation template and example:

In parenthetical citations, use the term in double quotation marks.

Parenthetical:

(“Entry Word”).

Example:

(“Transliterate”).

OR

When there is a definition number, use the term in double quotation marks followed by the abbreviation “def.” and the number as styled in the dictionary. Separate the definition entry word from the definition number with a comma.

(“Transliterate,” def. A18).

Works-cited-list entry template and example:

Style the entry title or headword by placing it in double quotation marks. Style the dictionary title by placing it in italics.

Template:

“Title of the Entry, Part of speech.” Title of the Dictionary, Year, URL.

Example:

“Transliterate, V.” Merriam-Webster, 2021, www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/transliterate.

Example with a definition number:

Include the definition number in the headword or entry title as it appears in the dictionary.

“Transliterate, V. (1).” Merriam-Webster, 2021, www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/transliterate.

How do I cite an encyclopedia entry in MLA format?

To cite an encyclopedia entry in MLA style, you need to have basic information including the authors, entry, editors, publication year, title of the encyclopedia, publisher, and page numbers. The templates for in-text citations and works-cited-list entries of an encyclopedia entry, along with examples, are given below:

In-text citation template and example:

For citations in prose, use the first name and surname of the author in the first occurrence. In subsequent citations, use only the surname. In parenthetical citations, always use only the surname of the author.

Citation in prose:

First mention: Carolyn Ellis . . .

Subsequent occurrences: Ellis . . .

Parenthetical:

. . . (Ellis)

Works-cited-list entry template and example:

The title of the encyclopedia is given in italics and is in title case.

Template:

Surname, First Name. “Title of the Entry.” Title of the Encyclopedia, edited by Name of the Editor, Publisher, Publication date, page.

Example:

Ellis, Carolyn. “Systematic Sociological Introspection.” The Sage Encyclopedia of Qualitative Research Methods, edited by Lisa M. Given, Sage, 2012, p. 854.