Comparison of English dictionaries
Number of entries
Note that the publisher's definition of an entry differs. Some publishers count derivatives as separate entries while others count expressions consisting of more than one word as separate entries. The number of entries is a marketing term that should never be used to compare dictionaries.
As an example, the 6th Edition of the Shorter Oxford English Dictionary (SOED6, 2007) contains approximately:
- 104,000 entries (where only the word "back" is listed.)
- 125,000 entries when parts of speech are separately listed ("back" is listed 5 times, 2 times as a noun, as an adjective, as a verb, and also as an adverb.)
- 172,000 entries when derivatives are also counted.
- 600,000 entries when different meanings (12 meanings for the first "back" noun listing alone) and phrases (at the back of, back and edge, behind one's back etc) are also counted.
The 2nd Edition of the Oxford English Dictionary (OED) includes more historical entries because it also lists words that have been obsolete for centuries (back to the 7th century) due to changes in meaning and orthography. The Shorter Oxford English Dictionary only covers usage back to the 18th century.
Learner's dictionaries typically contain 40,000 to 50,000 words, which is half to one third of the current usage, but still claim hundreds of thousands of "entries".
These dictionaries generally contain fewer entries (and fewer definitions per entry) than their full-size counterparts, but may contain additional material, such as biographical or geopolitical information, that would be useful to a college student. They may be revised more often and thus contain more up to date usage. Sometimes the term collegiate or college is used merely to indicate a physically smaller, more economically printed dictionary.
|American Heritage College Dictionary||Houghton Mifflin Harcourt||2002||4th (ISBN 0-547-24766-4)||2010||1,664||American||Diacritical|
|Merriam-Webster's Collegiate Dictionary||Merriam-Webster||1898||11th (ISBN 0-8777-9809-5)||2003||1,664||165,000||American||Diacritical|
|Webster's New World College Dictionary||Houghton Mifflin Harcourt||1953||5th||2004||1,736||163,000||American||Diacritical|
These dictionaries generally contain fewer entries than full-size or collegiate dictionaries, but contain additional information that would be useful to a learner of English, such as more extensive usage notes, example sentences or phrases, collocations, and both British and American pronunciations (sometimes multiple variants of the latter). In addition, definitions are usually restricted to a simpler core vocabulary than that expected of a native speaker. All use the IPA to indicate pronunciation.
|Latest edition||Year||Pages||Usage examples
|Cambridge Advanced Learner's Dictionary||Cambridge University Press||2003||4th (ISBN 9781107619500)||2013||1,810||British|
|Collins COBUILD Advanced Dictionary||Collins Cobuild||1987||7th (ISBN 9781424027514)||2012||2,080||British|
|Longman Dictionary of Contemporary English||Pearson-Longman||1978||6th (ISBN 1-408-21533-0)||2015||2,082||165,000||British|
|Macmillan English Dictionary for Advanced Learners||Macmillan Education||2002||2nd (ISBN 1-4050-2526-3)||2007||1,872||British|
|Merriam-Webster's Advanced Learner's English Dictionary||Merriam-Webster||2008||1st (ISBN 0-87779-550-9)||2008||2,032||160,000||American|
|Oxford Advanced Learner's Dictionary||Oxford University Press||1948||9th (ISBN 0-19-479900-X)||2015||1,796||185,000||British|
- Kaminski, Mariusz (2013). A History of the Chambers Dictionary. Walter de Gruyter. pp. 95–96.
- The 2010 "4th edition" of The American Heritage College Dictionary (ISBN 0-547-24766-4) is the second revision of the original "4th edition" published in 2002; it was originally derived from the 4th edition of The American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language, which was published in 2000.
- Cambridge Advanced Learner's Dictionary was originally published as Cambridge International Dictionary of English in 1995.