How to Cite a Dictionary in APA Style Correctly

This guide will help you learn how to cite a dictionary in APA and master all the rules to cite much easier. We will focus on the 7th edition manual and provide helpful templates and actual citation examples based on various scenarios. When you decide to use Edubirdie's APA Citation Generator for your writing purposes, it's still good to know how things work to correct them. Let’s start with the basic rules and elements we need to obtain from the dictionary entry we plan to quote. 

  • Author name (if available). 
  • Publication year. 
  • The dictionary definition entry. 
  • The editor's name (if available). 
  • Title in italics. 
  • Publisher's name. 
  • URL. 

The template for the citation is: 

Last Name, Initial(s). (Year). Dictionary entry. In Initial(s) Last Name (Ed.), Dictionary Title, Publisher. URL. 

Jones, C. (2021). Oscillation. In A.R. Stealth (Ed.), Audiology Engineering Dictionary. Audiology Press. URL. 

Here is how to cite online dictionary APA for our in-text citation: 

(Last Name, Year) 

(Jones, 2021).

Learn how to cite an online dictionary

The APA 7th manual uses the same rules for any cited content obtained online, so you must focus on the publication date. Still, it may be impossible to find the latest update date. The "n.d." tag is recommended if you face such challenges. See the template and an example below: 

Name of the Organization behind the dictionary cited. (Date or n.d. tag). Defined dictionary entry. In Website Title. Retrieved Month Day, Year, from URL. 

Merriam-Webster. (n.d.). Passion. In dictionary. Retrieved April 18, 2023, from 

Our in-text citation will look this way: 

(Publisher, n.d.) 

Read also: How to cite a dictionary in MLA format

Rules on citing a dictionary available in print 

Learning how to cite a dictionary in APA, let's start with the scenario when you have to cite a print version as a whole. Here is how it will look in practice: 

Last Name, Initial(s). (Year). Dictionary name in italics (edition). Publisher Name. 

Fowler, F.G. (1924). The Pocket Oxford Dictionary. Oxford University Press. 

Note: If the author and publisher are the same, you have to cite the relevant organization at the beginning as the author and skip the publisher part. 

Here is how to cite a dictionary in APA in-text

(Author or name of organization, Year) 

(Oxford University Press, 2022) 

(Fowler, 1924) 

Here is how to cite a dictionary in APA 7th edition when you need to cite a single word: 

Last Name, Initial(s). (Year). Defined word. In Dictionary name in italics (edition, p. page number). Publisher's Name. 

Editors of Great Marine Life Dictionary (Ed.). (2015). Dolphins. In Great Marine Life Wordbook (14th ed., p. 221). 

The APA dictionary citation rules for in-text citing: 

(Author or Organization, Year) 

(Oxford Pocket Dictionary, 2023)

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