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How to Cite a Dictionary Meaning in MLA


The Modern Language Association's citation-style is used mainly in literature and the humanities. When writing a paper, you may need to define or give information about a particular word or phrase. If you find this information in a dictionary, you would give credit to the dictionary you consulted by providing both an in-text citation and an entry on your "Works Cited" page.

Works Cited Entry

A dictionary citation includes the word you are defining, the dictionary you referenced, the edition of that dictionary, the year it was published and the medium of publication. When citing a dictionary entry, you don't need to include publisher information, nor do you need to include the volume or page number, because dictionaries list entries alphabetically.

"Sarcasm." The American Heritage Dictionary [italicized]. 4th ed. 2000. Print.

In-Text Citation

When writing about the word, you can cite your reference in-text by including the name of the word/entry in parenthesis. This might seem repetitive, but in-text citations should reference back to the first word on the "Works Cited" entry, making it easy for a reader to scan the Works Cited page and find a particular reference.

The word "sarcasm" comes from a Greek word meaning "to tear flesh" ("Sarcasm").

About the Author

Paige Johansen has been writing professionally since 2003. She holds a B.A. in psychology and English from Cornell University and an M.F.A. in fiction writing from The University of Virginia. Between degrees, she worked in the fashion industry for two years.

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