How to cite a dictionary in APA Style

This article reflects the APA 7th edition guidelines. Click here for APA 6th edition guidelines.

To cite a dictionary definition in APA Style, start with the author of the dictionary (usually an organization), followed by the publication year, the word you’re citing, the dictionary name, the publisher (if not already listed as author), and the URL.



How to cite an online dictionary entry

Online dictionaries tend to be continuously updated, so you usually won’t have a specific publication date. In this case, write “n.d.” (no date) in place of the year and include a retrieval date:

Merriam-Webster. (n.d.). Citation. In Merriam-Webster.com dictionary. Retrieved October 21, 2020, from https://​www.merriam-webster.com/​dictionary/​citation

How to cite a print dictionary

Citing from a print dictionary differs in that you’ll always be using a specific edition with a publication date, so this information should appear in your citation. Do not list the publisher a second time if it is already listed in the author position.

Format Publisher Name. (Year). Entry name. In Dictionary name (Edition, p. Page number). Publisher.
Reference entry HarperCollins. (2019). Rehabilitate. In Collins English dictionary (8th ed., p. 672).
In-text citation (HarperCollins, 2019)

Print dictionaries still don’t usually list authors, although in some specialist dictionaries an author may be listed. If an author for the individual entry is listed, list them in the author position instead of the publisher, and do include the publisher at the end.

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Jack Caulfield

Jack is a Brit based in Amsterdam, with an MA in comparative literature. He writes and edits for Scribbr, and reads a lot of books in his spare time.

1 comment

Jack Caulfield
Jack Caulfield (Scribbr Team)
November 6, 2020 at 10:24 AM

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