Citing a dictionary definition is slightly different than citing a book with an author, but it is not that difficult to learn. A citation in MLA format will tell the reader exactly where to find the source you accessed, so you will need to provide specific information about the entry. Include an in-text quote in parentheses just after the sentence that refers to the term. For its part, in the bibliographic references section, include the term, the dictionary title, its edition, the publication date and the page number. If it's an online dictionary, include the URL and the date you accessed the site.
Method 1 of 3: Make a quote in parentheses
Step 1. Include a text quote at the end of the sentence that refers to the term
Use parentheses to quote in text. Simply put quotation marks around the term you have defined and enclose it in parentheses. Keep in mind that you must put an initial capital letter in the first letter of the term.
For example, a basic quote in parentheses would be the following: (“onomatopoeia”). Instead of putting a period after the sentence, include it after the quote, as follows: Onomatopoeia is a word that mimics or suggests the sound it describes (“onomatopoeia”)
Step 2. Include the definition number for words with multiple entries
The point of an MLA citation is to point the reader to the exact location of your source. Some words have multiple definitions or can serve as multiple parts of speech, so you probably need to specify which entry you quote. Place a comma after the term you referenced, write "def." and then includes the part of speech as well as the entry number.
- For example, the text citation would look like the following: (“Giro”, def. V. 2a). Keep in mind that "V." means verb; use "Adj." For adjectives and "S." for nouns.
- Write the part of speech and the number of the definition as it appears in the dictionary. A dictionary could organize entries with numbers and letters (for example, 1a) or simply with numbers (for example, 1.2).
- If the word has multiple entries, but only a part of the speech, include only the entry number: (“Wonderful”, def. 2).
Step 3. If you have included multiple entries, put the dictionary title in square brackets
If you want to distinguish between entries in multiple dictionaries, enclose the term in quotation marks and the title of the dictionary in italics. Add a comma after the term, and then enclose the dictionary title in square brackets.
- This would be an example: (“Emoticón”, [Dictionary of the Spanish language]).
- Suppose that your article refers to the definition of "emoticon" both in the Dictionary of the Spanish language and in the Larousse Dictionary. If the text citations were simply ("Emoticon") or ("Emoticon", S.), the reader would not know which dictionary you are referring to.
Method 2 of 3: Cite a Dictionary in Print
Step 1. Start by enclosing the term you have defined in quotation marks
Begin the entry of bibliographic references with the term you have referenced and then include a period. A basic example would be the following "Content".
- If you specified the part of speech and the definition number, include them in the bibliographic references entry: “Content”, def. N. 1c.
- Since there is no known author, use the first letter of the term when alphabetizing the bibliographic reference page. For example, you would place the word "Content" after an entry written by "Butler, J." and before another written by "Darwin, C.".
Step 2. Write the name of the dictionary in italics
Add a single space after the term enclosed in quotation marks and then type the title of the dictionary followed by a comma.
At this point, the entry would look like this: “Content”, def. N. 1c. Spanish dictionary,
Step 3. Write the edition in case you cite a later edition
Check the back of the dictionary title page to find the edition number. If the edition you are going to cite is the first, you do not need to include the edition number. Use the abbreviation "ed." and put a comma after the period.
Now the entry would be: "Content", def. N. 1c. Dictionary of the Spanish Language, 11th ed.,
Step 4. Include the publication date
Look for the publication date on the back of the book's title page. Write the year after the edit and add another comma.
Write the date as follows: “Content”, def. N. 1c. Dictionary of the Spanish Language, 11th ed., 2003,
Step 5. Put the page number at the end of the quote
Use the abbreviation "p." and write the page on which the definition appears. End the entry by placing a period after the page number.
- The completed entry would be the following: “Content,” def. N. 1c. Dictionary of the Spanish language, 11th ed., 2003, p. 269.
- If the definition appears on 2 pages, write “pp. 269-270 ".
Method 3 of 3: Cite an Online Dictionary
Step 1. Begin by typing the term and name from the online dictionary
Start by putting quotation marks around the term you have referenced. Put a period after the term and the definition number, and then italicize the name from the online dictionary.
The first part of the entry to bibliographic references for an online dictionary looks very similar to a citation for a printed source: “Contents”, def. N. 1.1. Spanish dictionary,
Step 2. Use the copyright date at the bottom of the website page
Scroll to the bottom of the page and look for a “©” symbol followed by a year. Write the latter (only the year, not the copyright symbol) after the title of the online dictionary, and then put a comma.
At this point, the entry to the bibliographic references would be the following: “Content”, def. N. 1.1. Dictionary of the Spanish Language, 2018,
Step 3. Do not include the "https" when typing the URL
When citing sources online in the MLA style, include everything after “www.”, And then add a period to the end of the URL. If the link does not include "www.," Add the subdomain (the letters before the first period in the link) that it uses. An example of this is "dle.rae.es".
Add the URL as follows: "Content", def. N. 1.1. Dictionary of the Spanish Language, 2018, dle.rae.es/content?m=form
Step 4. Include the date you accessed the website
As the websites are not permanent, end the entry indicating the date you accessed. Use web history to determine the exact date you visited the website. Type the word "Accessed" and then add the date using a "day-month-year" format. Finally, put a period.