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How to Cite a Dictionary Entry in Harvard Style

Published by at August 27th, 2021 , Revised On August 23, 2023


Many texts include dictionary definitions that are either copy-pasted from a dictionary or rewritten to ignore plagiarism. Whichever method is followed, it’s important to cite and reference that dictionary entry. A dictionary ‘entry’ is just an academic form of referring to a dictionary term. If a writer has defined the term ‘jurisdiction,’ for instance, it will be said that the writer has used the ‘dictionary entry’ for ‘jurisdiction.’


In-Text and Reference List Format with Examples

1.    Dictionary Entries with Author/Dictionary Publisher Name

In Harvard referencing, dictionary entries are cited in the text using the following general, basic format:

(Surname of the Dictionary’s author, Year Published)

For example, Hologram (Anon, 2014), where ‘hologram’ is the dictionary entry term that was has been in the text.

The reference list entry follows this format:

Author Surname, Author Initial. (Year Published). Title. In: Publication Title in italics. [‘online’ is written if an online dictionary was used] City: Publisher, # of pages. Available at: http://Website URL [Accessed Date Accessed].

For example:

Anon, (2014). In: 1st ed. [online] Available at: http://www.oxforddictionaries.com/definition/english/hologram [Accessed 21 Jun. 2014].

Another example of citing dictionary entries as per Harvard style is:

(HarperCollins 2019, rehabilitate entry)

Note, however, that the word ‘entry’ may or may not be included with the in-text citation. It’s a personal choice of the writer. If it’s to be written, it should be done so consistently throughout the manuscript.


2.    Dictionary Entry with No Author Name

The general Harvard format for in-text citation of a dictionary entry without author name is:

Name of dictionary in italics followed by year accessed and entry title and page # if present, for example:

(World encyclopedia 2014, microeconomics entry)

In such a case, the name of the dictionary itself is considered the name of the author. Another example is:

(Dictionary of education 2015, curriculum entry)


3.    Dictionary Entry with Author Name Only

If only the name of the author is available and not the entry title, the following format for in-text citation is followed:

Name of author followed by year accessed and entry title and page # if present, for example: (Law 2018)

As for the Harvard reference list format, every type of dictionary entry uses the same format as the basic one given above, whether it’s an author-name-only, entry-title-only, or both.


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Frequently Asked Questions

To cite a dictionary entry in Harvard style: Format: Author(s). (Year). Entry title. In Dictionary Title. Publisher. URL (if online). Example: Smith, J. (2023). Algorithm. In Oxford Dictionary. Oxford University Press. URL. Remember to italicize the dictionary title, and provide page URL if accessed online.

About Alaxendra Bets

Avatar for Alaxendra BetsBets earned her degree in English Literature in 2014. Since then, she's been a dedicated editor and writer at ResearchProspect, passionate about assisting students in their learning journey.