Definition of headword in US English:



  • A word that begins a separate entry in a reference work such as a dictionary.

    • ‘In addition to the interesting discussion given in Bauer's essay, we could wish for a clear explanation of how deponency was treated and handled in the headwords of the entries.’
    • ‘The book defines approximately 7500 headwords and phrases, illustrated with over 250 linked line figures, diagrams & tabular material throughout.’
    • ‘Was this an exercise requiring the writer to use certain words, or were the headwords chosen after the story had been essentially written?’
    • ‘Now turn to the index and read all of the headwords.’
    • ‘There follow under the headword in Macquarie another 25 definitions, but only one, to assail, could be taken to mean to criticise or verbally attack, but I get the feeling it is defined here in a physical sense in any case.’
    • ‘Ballard's ‘Index’ trades on such incongruity, but it also betrays a linear narrative that emerges from the list of headwords despite their alphabetization, which would lead one to expect a random distribution of references.’
    • ‘If my good colleagues at Merriam-Webster want headwords they need to add to the 12 th edition of their college dictionary (the current 11 th edition is already a fine book), I can send them a list.’
    • ‘Whether we retain ‘deponency’ or not, we must develop a consistent method for listing headwords.’
    • ‘They use contrastive typefaces for distinct purposes, such as bold-face type for headwords, roman for definitions, italics for abbreviated codes and specimen words and phrases, and small capitals for cross-references.’
    • ‘In many dictionaries, there is no cross-reference to words used to give the meaning of a headword.’
    • ‘Edited by S.K. Verma and R.N. Sahai, experts in the field of linguistics and lexicography, the bilingual dictionary has 25,000 headwords, derivatives and related phrases and idioms.’
    • ‘The twenty-six sections of Abish's story are each titled with three headwords, grouped in alphabetized sets.’
    • ‘In this book, the rank as given in the headword of those servicemen who have a biographical entry is the highest they achieved during the course of the war.’
    • ‘The general conclusion is that all the entries show potential to obscure or conceal important information about the meaning of the headword.’
    • ‘The word groups, all of which have been chosen purely for their fluency-promoting property, have been arranged in alphabetical order under various headwords in dictionary style.’
    • ‘But this method of assessing vocabulary counts dictionary headwords only; it would be possible to multiply it several-fold to include different senses, inflected forms, and compounds.’
    • ‘This eliminates ‘deponency’ from the discussion and attempts to communicate by the headword whether the lexeme occurs most commonly in the middle or in the active and passive forms.’
    • ‘Lynch has decided to give entire entries, that is, the headword, part of speech, etymology, definitions and quotations.’