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A dictionary is a list of words defined in terms of each other. There are different types of dictionaries, some are cross references between different languages, or between usages of words from the past. Dictionaries that are specific to a single language usually give pronuciation information, as well as the history or etymology of the word and the definition.

Dictionaries come in two basic philosophies, prescriptive and descriptive. The OED is descriptive, and attempts to describe actual usage. Noah Webster, on the other hand, changed the meanings and pronunciation of numerous words. The art and craft of writing dictionaries is callled lexicography.

See also Thesaurus.


Online dictionaries