How do I distinguish between different dictionary entries for the same term in my in-text citation?
Note: This post relates to content in the eighth edition of the MLA Handbook. For up-to-date guidance, see the ninth edition of the MLA Handbook.
To distinguish between different dictionary entries for the same term, follow the principle in our previous post on distinguishing between works with the same title: provide additional details in your parenthetical citation, usually the first unique piece of information in your works-cited-list entries.
For example, in the following works-cited-list entries for emoticon, the information in the “Title of source” slot—the headword—is identical:
“Emoticon, N.” Merriam-Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary, 11th ed., Merriam-Webster, 2003, p. 408.
“Emoticon, N.” Oxford English Dictionary, Oxford UP, 2018, www.oed.com/view/Entry/249618?redirectedFrom=emoticon#eid.
To distinguish between these entries in your parenthetical citation, include a short form of the title and the name of the dictionary in brackets:
(“Emoticon” [Merriam-Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary])
(“Emoticon” [Oxford English Dictionary])