Answered By: Gopal Dutta
Last Updated: Sep 20, 2019     Views: 185

You do not always need to cite and reference a dictionary definition. Whether you need to or not will depend on the type of dictionary and/or how you are using the definition in your work.
 
Language dictionaries
 
As you are not using the words, ideas or theory of an author, you do not usually need to cite and reference a language dictionary (for example the Oxford English dictionary). Instead, introduce the definition in your writing.  One way to present this is as follows:
 
According to the Oxford English Dictionary the definition of [XXXXX] is [XXXXXX]
 
If however you have a particular need in your work to cite a language dictionary definition, for example, if comparing varying definitions from language dictionaries by different publishers, follow the format as follows.  The example provided is for an online dictionary, therefore 'online' is used in the citation in place of the page number.

    Example citation

    (Oxford English Dictionary, 2016:online)

    If you are going to refer to the Oxford English Dictionary again in your work, introduce the acronym OED in your citation as follows

    (Oxford English Dictionary [OED], 2016:online)


    Example reference

    Oxford English Dictionary. (2016) reference, v. 3. Oxford: Oxford University. [Online] [Accessed on 10th February 2017] http://www.oed.com/view/Entry/160845 


Subject dictionaries and encyclopedias
 
As subject dictionaries and encyclopedias are usually written by a specific author/s or organisation, and contextual definitions are provided, you will need to cite and reference them in the usual way.   
 
To reference definitions in subject dictionaries or encyclopedias, follow the format for referencing a Chapter in an edited book
 

    Example reference 

    Muncie, J. (2001) 'Labelling.' In McLaughlin, E. and Muncie, J. (eds.) The SAGE dictionary of criminology. London: SAGE, pp. 159-160.