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How do I distinguish between different dictionary entries for the same term in my in-text citation?

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,

To distinguish between these entries in your parenthetical citation, . . .

Published 30 May 2018

How do I cite a term in an online or print dictionary that lists several numbered definitions?

To cite a term in the dictionary that includes different parts of speech in the headword, follow the MLA format template and begin with the headword (as it appears) as the title of the source. Note that this may include parts of speech.
“Heavy, Adj. 1 and N.” Oxford English Dictionary, Oxford UP, 2015,
“Heavy.” Oxford English Dictionary, 2nd ed., vol. 7, Clarendon Press, 1989, p. 84.
The first example above, taken from our sample fourth-year paper on Jane Austen, is for the online edition of the Oxford English Dictionary; . . .

Published 3 November 2016

When citing a print dictionary in MLA style, do I include a page number?

Yes. Cite an entry in a print dictionary like a section of a larger work. Include the page number in the “Location” element of the MLA style template:
“Content.” Merriam-Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary, 11th ed., Merriam-Webster, 2003, p. 269.
To cite an entry in an online dictionary, consider the URL the location:
“Content.” Collegiate Dictionary. Merriam-Webster, 2016,
See page 42 of the MLA Handbook for guidelines on when it’s permissible to omit a publisher’s name, as in the above example.

Whether you’ve consulted an entry from a print or an electronic dictionary, . . .

Published 23 June 2016

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