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

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.

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; the second is for the print edition.

In the text of your work, provide a parenthetical citation that includes the term and the definition number:

Here, heavy does not mean overweight, as we might think, but probably “ponderous and slow in intellectual processes; wanting in facility, vivacity, or lightness” (“Heavy,” def. A.18).