Did you know?

Click any word in a definition or example to find the entry for that word

Types of word

antonym

noun

a word that means the opposite of another word

argot

noun

words that are used by a particular group of people

back formation

noun

a new word that is formed by removing a part of another word. In English, ‘burgle’ is a back formation from ‘burglar’.

buzzword

noun

a word that has become very popular, especially a word relating to a particular activity or subject

catchword

noun

a word used for representing a particular idea, usually one that is popular for a short time

cognate

noun

a word in a language that has the same origin as a word in a different language

collocate

noun

a word that is often used with another word

connective

noun

a word that is used to join other words, phrases, clauses, and sentences, for example ’and’, ’because’, and ’but’

contraction

noun

a word made by leaving out a letter or letters of a word or words. For example ‘can’t’ is a contraction of the word ‘cannot’.

demonym

noun

a name used for a person who lives in or comes from a particular place, such as Parisian for a person from Paris

derivation

noun

a word that comes from another language

diminutive

noun

a word formed by adding a diminutive suffix

discourse marker

noun

a word that is used for showing a change in the way the conversation is developing or for showing the other speaker how you are reacting to what they are saying. Typical discourse markers include ‘well’, ‘oh’, and ‘OK’.

false friend

noun

a word in a language that looks or sounds similar to a word in another language but means something different. For example ‘actual’ in English and ‘aktuell’ in German look similar but have different meanings.

function word

noun

a word used mainly for expressing relationships between other words in a sentence, for example a conjunction like ‘but’ or a preposition like ‘with’

homograph

noun

a word that is spelled the same as another word but has a different meaning and sometimes a different pronunciation

homonym

noun

a word that is spelled the same or sounds the same as another word but has a different meaning

homophone

noun

a word that sounds the same as another word but has its own spelling, meaning, and origin

hypernym

noun

a superordinate

hyponym

noun

a word with a more specific meaning than another more general word of which it is an example. For example, ‘potato’ is a hyponym of ‘vegetable’.

keyword

noun

a word that represents the main feature or idea of something

legalism

noun

a word or phrase used in law

loanword

noun

a word from one language that is used in another language without being changed

malapropism

noun

a word that is used wrongly but sounds like the word that you should have used, especially one that creates a funny change of meaning

monosyllable

noun

a word with only one syllable. The words ‘yes’ and ‘no’ are monosyllables.

nonce word

noun

a word that someone invents for a particular purpose or occasion

part of speech

noun

one of the main grammatical groups that a particular word belongs to according to the way it is used in a sentence, for example noun, verb, adjective, or adverb

polysyllable

noun

a word that has more than two syllables

portmanteau word

noun

a word that combines the sound and meaning of two words, for example ‘smog’, a combination of ‘smoke’ and ‘fog’

postmodifier

noun

a word, usually an adjective or adverb, that comes after the word it describes

premodifier

noun

a word, usually an adjective or adverb, that comes before the word that it describes

pro-form

noun

a word, usually a pronoun, that is used in place of another word to avoid repeating it

rhyme

noun

a word that ends with the same sound as another word

superordinate

noun

a word that includes the meaning of more specific words. For example, ‘vehicle’ is the superordinate of words such as ‘car’ and ‘truck’.

synonym

noun

a word that has the same meaning as another word. For example ‘scared’ is a synonym for ‘afraid’.

synonymy

noun

similar meaning in different words

variant

noun

a different form, spelling, or pronunciation of a word

weasel word

noun

a word that someone uses to avoid saying what they really mean

word class

noun

a part of speech

wordoid

noun

a word that has been invented to describe a new idea or product

the operative word

used for referring to the most important word in a sentence

Word of the Day

disciple

someone who admires a famous person such as a political or religious leader and is influenced by...

Blog

A must for anyone with an interest in the changing face of language. The Macmillan Dictionary blog explores English as it is spoken around the world today.

global English and language change from our blog