Click any word in a definition or example to find the entry for that word
For a detailed article by Editor-in-Chief Michael Rundell about corpora & dictionaries, visit this page: From corpus to dictionary.
To know how words are used, how common they are, and what words they are frequently used with, lexicographers analyse a corpus. MacmillanDictionary.com is based on the World English Corpus, a unique corpus of over 200 million words from spoken and written sources.
The corpus contains a total of around 220 million words of written and spoken text.
The World English Corpus is made up of the following:
The ratio is about 9:1 (written:spoken).
The corpus is our primary source of information about the way words behave. It forms the basis of our description of word meanings and of the way words combine with each other (syntactically and collocationally). It also provides information about frequency - of words, meanings, grammatical patterns, and collocations. And finally, it is the main source of the example sentences shown in the dictionary.
Like most dictionary publishers, we use 'concordancing' software to investigate word behaviour and word patterns. In addition, we use 'lexical profiling' software, which gives us the most detailed and most reliable information about collocations that has ever been available.