An Expert Guide on How to Cite a Dictionary in MLA Style

If you aim to learn how to cite a dictionary in MLA, you are in the right place! Understanding how to cite a dictionary in MLA format can be tricky, so if you find yourself struggling, a service that can do my homework might be just what you need. This helpful guide will show you all the necessary rules with templates and practical examples. We will find ways to cite different dictionary types and achieve clarity.

Let's start with the basic rules and the general example of the information you need: 

  • Start with a word you were searching for in the dictionary. Since, in most cases, there is no author, it is exactly what replaces this section. 
  • Part of speech (adjective, subjective, verb, etc.) should be in italics. 
  • Definition number. 
  • The dictionary name in italics. 
  • If you have a year, it should be added after the dictionary name. 
  • The URL (for online dictionary).
  • Access date (for online dictionary). 

Thus, we have the following MLA dictionary citations template format: 

"Word, Part of speech. (Definition number)." Dictionary Name, Year, URL. 

"Stick, N. (3)." Merriam-Webster, Accessed 17 April 2023. 

An in-text citation will go this way:

("Stick,", def. 3.a).

How to cite an online dictionary?

MLA online dictionary template: 

"Word, Part of speech. (Definition number)." Dictionary Name, Year, URL. 

Here is how to cite a dictionary definition in MLA in practice: 

"Justice, N. (1)." Oxford Learner's Dictionaries, Accessed 17 April 2023. 

MLA in-text citation:

(“Justice,” def. 1.a).

Let's clarify the concepts of parts of speech and definition numbers, as well as where to find them in a dictionary. Part of speech determines the grammatical function of a word. It means you must deal with nouns, pronouns, verbs, adjectives, adverbs, prepositions, conjunctions, and interjections. Learning how to cite an online dictionary in MLA or dealing with a print version, you will see the identification next to the word to make it clearer. MLA recommends putting parts of speech in italics and abbreviating them.

Here are the abbreviations that you have to use: 

  • Noun - N. 
  • Pronoun - Pron. 
  • Verb - V. 
  • Adjective - Adj. 
  • Adverb - Adv. 
  • Preposition - Prep. 
  • Conjunction - Conj. 
  • Interjection - Interj. 

As for the definition number, dictionary often indicates it alongside the part of speech. This convention is commonly used for words that share the same part of speech but possess different meanings. So don't forget to add it (if available). 

How to cite a print dictionary

If you need to cite a print dictionary in MLA, skip the URL part and provide the edition, publisher, and page number. It means you have to follow the MLA book citations, same as for apa dictionary citation. Remember that in-text citations should not contain the page number being a single page. Use numbering within your references entry for practical purposes! 

"Word, Part of speech. (Definition number)." Dictionary Name, Edition, Publisher, Year, p. Page number. 

"Chair, N. (3)." Collins English Dictionary, 7th ed., Collins, 2015, p. 232. 

MLA in-text citation for the dictionary entry:

(“Chair,” def. 3.1.c).

Citing a dictionary entry with an author

While it's scarce, specific dictionaries will list authors or an editor. It may be one or several authors, depending on the entry. If you have no part of speech or definition numbers, which is often the case in specialist dictionaries, you should skip these parts. When citing a word, start with the author's name, followed by the editor (if that’s the case). Summing things up, we have: 

Last Name, First Name, editor. "Entry Title." Dictionary Name, Edition, Publisher, Year, p. Page number. 

Rubin, Rick, editor. "Ducking-tape." Sound Engineer's Dictionary of Terms, 5th ed., Music Press Berkeley, 2012, p.312. 

An in-text MLA citation:


Here is how to cite a dictionary in MLA style if the author and editor are known: 

Last Name, First Name. "Entry Title." Dictionary Name, edited by Editor's Name Last Name, Edition, Publisher, Year, URL. 

Yorke, Thomas. "Quantum Physics." The Nuclear Reactions Dictionary References Book. Edited by Adam Feldman, winter 2019 ed., MIT U, 2019, 

An in-text citation rule:

(Yorke, sec. 3.4). 


Should I list an author for the dictionary entry citation in MLA style?

Generally, standard dictionaries do not provide an author for either the entire dictionary or its individual entries. So, when citing dictionaries in MLA format, no author should be added. However, if you're citing a specialized dictionary that does specify an author, follow the standard guidelines for citing books or book chapters and include the author's name and editor's name accordingly. 

What should I do if my dictionary entry has no page numbers in MLA? 

Since there is no page entry for the dictionary where a certain word is used, you should skip this part or provide an alternative locator - chapter (section).

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