Key features of the Macmillan English Dictionary – Second Edition

Red and black words

The most important feature of all is the clear distinction that the Macmillan English Dictionary makes between high-frequency core vocabulary and the less common words needed mainly for reference. Click here to find out more…

Menus – the clearest way to navigate

Entries with five or more senses have a special ‘meaning menu‘ at the top for rapid access to the correct meaning.

Meaning menus

Memorable illustrations – not just a pretty picture

Clear and attractive illustrations not only explain the meaning of words, but provide an excellent way of showing the differences between close synonyms.

Specialist vocabulary – do you know your adspend from your zaikai?

The MED contains about 6,000 items of clearly labelled subject-specific vocabulary, with a focus on five key subject areas: business and economics, science, information technology, medicine, and the arts.

MED entry for "eclipse"

Get it right boxes

Get it right boxes at individual headwords help users to anticipate mistakes that they might make and show them how to correct them. These boxes often also highlight common collocations, present alternatives to over-used words and point out the differences between words that are easy to confuse.

Get it right boxes

Expand your Vocabulary section – is there a better word?

The Expand your Vocabulary section in the centre of the dictionary – on the themes of movement, communication and emotions – helps the learner to choose the right word at the right time and to use it correctly and idiomatically.

Vocabulary expansion

Collocation boxes

The combination of corpus data and state-of-the-art software has given us the basis for an unrivalled description of the way words behave and combine with one another. Essential collocates are shown in the body of the dictionary entry, but the MED also lists thousands of strong collocates in its 450 special collocation boxes.

Metaphor – throw some light on the words we use

The Macmillan English Dictionary offers unique treatment of metaphor, showing how many ordinary familiar words and phrases have metaphorical meanings, although we do not usually realise this when we use them. There are over 60 special boxes throughout the dictionary, as well as a 4-page in-depth article for a deeper understanding.


Language Awareness section – English is easier if you know why it works like it does

The Language Awareness section, written by well-known experts, includes articles on:
Understanding idioms (Frank Boers)
Metaphor (Rosamund Moon)
Discourse (Scott Thornbury)
Pragmatics (Joanna Channell)
Lexical priming (Michael Hoey)
Word formation (Jonathan Marks)
Frequency and the dictionary (Adam Kilgarriff)
New technology (Pete Sharma)
Cultural values (Simon Greenall)
Differences between American and British English (Susan Stempleski)

Language awareness

Improve your Writing Skills

The Improve your Writing Skills section in the centre of the dictionary gives advice on writing in 18 areas that often cause difficulties. These pages deal with vocabulary and grammar problems, present graphs comparing the use of a particular word or phrase by native speakers and learners, and develop the skills learners need to write effectively in different professional and academic contexts.


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