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Guide to the Longman Online Dictionary


Make the most of your dictionary

The Longman Dictionary of Contemporary English Online is an excellent free resource, designed especially for international learners of English. This page is a detailed guide.

Using the Longman Online Dictionary

First steps

Go to the dictionary homepage by clicking here and click on the dictionary symbol to open the dictionary. This will appear in a new window. A random word and its definition will appear.


Enter the word you want to look up. You will probably be given a list of different expressions containing that word, plus a choice of noun, verb, adjective or adverb where appropriate. Click on the meaning and form that you are interested in.


I'm going to use the word 'journey' as an example. I'm in interested in the noun. I already know the meaning, but I want to see how to use it in my sentences, and I also want to find out if it is different to trip and travel.



What information is displayed?

1. The part of speech.

Journey is nearly always a noun [journey 1], but it also has a special use as a verb [journey 2].

As a noun [journey 1], it is countable. As a verb, [journey 2 - at the bottom of the page] it is intransitive (an intransitive verb doesn't have a direct object). We can see that it must be followed by an adverb or preposition.


2. The frequency of the verb in speaking and writing.

If your word is commonly used in speaking or writing, an S and/or W will be shown in the top right corner of the page, together with a number 1, 2 or 3.

The noun 'journey' has S3, W2 next to it. The 3 next to the S means that it is one of the 3,000 most common words in speaking. W2 means it is one of the 2,000 most frequently used words in writing. This tells us that it is an important word to learn, and is slightly more common in writing than in speaking.


3. Information about pronuniciation.

Next to the word in blue is the pronunciation, represented by phonetic symbols. A dollar sign ($) shows American pronunciation if it is different.

Even if you do not understand the symbols, it is useful to see where the stress is. The main stress comes after '.

Click here for help understanding the symbols, and here to listen to British English vowels and consonant sounds.

There is no sound with this dictionary, even though there are sound symbols - it's only available on the CD-ROM. However, the American online dictionary Merriam-Webster lets you listen to the pronunciation (in American English, of course!). .


4. The definition, and contextual information

As well as giving you the meaning of a word, the Longman dictionary also lets you know which contexts are suitable for using the word. For example, the first meaning of 'journey' is used especially in British English. The second meaning is used in literary texts.


Other important contextual information includes:


not polite

taboo - use with great caution only



old-fashioned - not commonly used today

old use - not used at all today

American English

Australian English


5. How to use the word in a sentence.

You can see verb structures, e.g. journey across/through somewhere..

Collocations (words that go together) are shown in bold, such as a wasted journey. On some pages (such as this one), there is a blue collocations box where you can see a list of useful word combinations, and their definitions.

Example sentences are provided to help feel more confident about using the word correctly.


6. Advice on word choice

Where words are often confused, there is a pink 'Word Choice' to help clarify your understanding. On this page, the difference between journey, trip, travel, voyage, crossing and flight is explained.


7. Synonyms and antonyms

The dictionary also provides information about words with a similar meaning (synonyms) and the opposite meaning (antonyms).

Type in 'dull' and select 'adjective'. This word has a lot of meanings, represented by numbers 1-8, and the categories in blue and white. Looking at meaning 6, you can see that when talking about a blade, dull means blunt. In meaning 4, the antonym of dull is sharp, represented by a 'does not equal' symbol.

The 'Word Focus' box at the bottom of the page serves as a mini-thesaurus, displaying synonyms of 'dull' when the meaning is 'boring'.

* For more information on how to use this dictionary, click here.



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