What is a dictionary?

Are you struggling to find out what a word means? Learn how to use a dictionary to help!


A dictionary is a list of words or phrases and their definitions arranged in alphabetical order.

In an English dictionary you'll find words beginning with ‘a’ at the front and ‘z’ at the back. There are lots of words in the English language which begin with 'a', so it's not just the first letter that is important. Words are organised alphabetically according to the following letters in a word too.

For example, ‘ant’ will come after ‘ankle’. The first two letters of these words are the same, but the third letters are different. The letter ‘t’ comes after ‘k’ in the alphabet, so you find 'ankle' before 'ant' in the dictionary.

To find the word ‘lion’ in the dictionary, start by finding words beginning with ‘l’, then ‘li’, then ‘lio’ until you eventually narrow it down to ‘lion’.