Click any word in a definition or example to find the entry for that word
The aim of Macmillan Dictionary is to make every definition as clear and easy to understand as possible. To achieve this, we write the definitions using a special defining vocabulary of just 2,500 words. These are among the most frequent words in the English language, and they are words that all students of English become familiar with in the first year or two of their studies.
These are the most common and basic words in English. We have chosen them by examining word-frequency information from hundreds of millions of words of English, including the English used in books written for advanced learners.
All the normal forms of nouns, verbs, and adjectives: for example, the list includes enter and large, so definitions may include forms like entered or entering and larger or largest. Apart from this, all the words and forms we use are actually shown in the defining vocabulary list: there are no prefixes or suffixes that can make additional words.
Only the most basic and central meanings: for example, the adjective cold can sometimes mean 'unfriendly', but in our definitions it only refers to something at a low temperature.
We use only the ones listed here: for example, the list includes a few simple phrasal verbs like put on and take off (for talking about clothes), and a few simple phrases like in order to and pay attention. If they are not listed, we do not use them.
Definitions sometimes need to refer to words outside the defining vocabulary. This is rare. Sometimes we refer to the names of real people or places (for example, Jesus Christ or England). Proper nouns like this are not listed in the defining vocabulary.