Macmillan English Dictionary for Advanced Learners

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Macmillan English Dictionary for Advanced Learners, also known as MEDAL, was first published in 2002 by Macmillan Education. MEDAL is an advanced learner’s dictionary and shares most of the features of this type of dictionary: it provides definitions in simple language, using a controlled defining vocabulary; most words have example sentences to illustrate how they are typically used; and information is given about how words combine grammatically or in collocations. MEDAL also introduced a number of innovations.[1][2] These include:

  • ‘collocation boxes’ giving lists of high-frequency collocates, identified using Sketch Engine software[3]
  • word frequency information, with the most frequent 7500 English words shown in red and categorised in three frequency bands, based on the idea, derived from Zipf's law, that a relatively small number of high-frequency words account for a high percentage of most texts[4]
  • ‘metaphor boxes’, showing how the vocabulary used for expressing common concepts (such as ‘anger’) tends to reflect a common metaphorical framework. This is based on George Lakoff’s ideas of conceptual metaphor[5]
  • a 50-page section providing guidance on writing academic English, based on a collaboration with the Centre for English Corpus Linguistics in Louvain, Belgium and using the Centre’s learner corpus data[6]

The Macmillan English Dictionary also exists as an electronic dictionary, available free on the Web. Like most online dictionaries,[7] it benefits from being able to update content regularly with new words and meanings. In addition to the dictionary, the online version has a thesaurus function enabling users to find synonyms for any word, phrase or meaning.[8] There is also a blog (the Macmillan Dictionary Blog) with daily postings on language issues, especially on global English and language change.[9] An "Open Dictionary"[10] allows users to provide their own dictionary entries for new words they have come across. The online edition has been recognised as a good example of this emerging genre of reference publishing.[11]


Related publicationsEdit

  • Macmillan Essential Dictionary, a shorter version that contains the most basic vocabulary (over 45,000 headwords)


  1. ^ Bogaards, Paul. Review article, International Journal of Lexicography, 16/1, 2003: 43–55
  2. ^ Bejoint, H. The Lexicography of English. Oxford University Press, 2010: 186–189
  3. ^ Kilgarriff, A. & Rundell, M. Lexical profiling software and its lexicographic applications – a case study. In Braasch and Povlsen (Eds.) Proceedings of the Tenth Euralex Congress, University of Copenhagen, Denmark. 2004, 807–818.
  4. ^ I.S.P. Nation, Learning Vocabulary in Another Language, Cambridge University Press 2001, 13–17
  5. ^ Moon, R. On specifying metaphor: an idea and its implementation. International Journal of Lexicography, 17(2), 2004: 195–222
  6. ^ Gilquin, G., Granger, S. & Paquot, M. Learner corpora: The missing link in EAP pedagogy. Journal of English for Academic Purposes. 6, 2007, 319–335
  7. ^ Bejoint, H. The Lexicography of English Oxford University Press, 2010: 373–374
  8. ^ Edemariam, Aida. "Online dictionaries: which is best?". The Guardian. 30 August 2010
  9. ^ "What's your English? 2011". Macmillan Dictionary. accessed August 24, 2011.
  10. ^ "Most recent entries". Open Dictionary. McMillan Dictionary. accessed August 24, 2011.
  11. ^ Lannoy, V. Free online dictionaries: why and how?, in Granger, S. & Paquot, M. (Eds), eLexicography in the 21st Century: New Challenges, New Applications: Proceedings of eLex 2009, Louvain, Belgium: Cahiers du Cental. 2010, 173-182

External linksEdit