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How To

1. How do I find out what a word means?

Type the word or phrase you’re looking for into the search box and click "Search." The best match will be returned. Have a look in the Search Results list to see other close matches for what you’ve typed.

If you’re using a desktop browser, when you’re reading an entry and don’t know the meaning of a word in it, double click on the unknown word to look it up. See Section 9 below for more details on OAAD for mobile devices.

2. I don’t know how to spell a word. How can I look it up?

Don’t worry. Spell the word as best as you can in the box. A spellchecker will suggest a list of words that you might be looking for based on what you’ve typed. Choose your word from that list to go to the entry.

3. Which words are included in this dictionary?

The entries in the Oxford Advanced American Dictionary are chosen on the basis of their frequency and usefulness for learners of English.

Dictionary editors consult a corpus (= a database of real English, spoken and written) to analyze the usage of words. Based on this information, and based on their experience as English teachers, the editors decide which words are important enough to be included in the dictionary.

The size of the English language means that, unfortunately, OAAD cannot include every word in existence. Some words are excluded because they are rare or highly specialized.

If you are interested in rare or more specialized words, we recommend that you also consult a dictionary that is not designed specifically for learners of English. For example, the New Oxford American Dictionary. You can find information about other non-learners' dictionaries from at

4. How can I find out how a word is pronounced?

You can hear how words are pronounced in American English by clicking on the speaker icon within the entries. You can use these as a reliable model to practice your own pronunciation. Pronunciation is also shown in the dictionary using phonetic symbols. If you need help reading these symbols, look at this Pronunciation Guide.

You need to have the latest version of Adobe's Flash Player installed on your computer to hear the sounds. Go to Adobe's website to download the latest version of Flash Player, and follow the instructions there for installing it. When you have installed it, you will need to close and re-open your web browser. Once this has been done, you will be able to hear the pronunciation sounds.

5. How can I find out about the symbols used in the dictionary?

Symbols and labels used in the dictionary are explained in this Guide to Labels.

The social bookmarks provide a way for you to share an entry with your online community or to bookmark it for you to easily find again later.

6. How can I use the Wordlists?

This website contains lists of the Oxford 3000™ words, Academic Word List words, entries with a picture, and entries with a usage note. Narrow down your selection by choosing one of the sections to see a list of entries. Use the wordlists as a study aid. How many words on each list do you already know?

7. How can OAAD help me with writing?

The Oxford Advanced American Dictionary is full of information that can help you to become a better writer in English.

The dictionary entries not only tell you what words mean, they also tell you how words are used. If you want to use a word correctly, look carefully at the grammar information, the example sentences, and the labels which tell you whether a word is formal, informal, or technical.

The dictionary also contains hundreds of usage notes that will help you build your vocabulary and improve your accuracy. There are several different types of note, including Thesaurus, Topic Collocations, Language Bank, Vocabulary Building, Which word?, Grammar, More About, and AWL Collocations.

For even more help with writing, including a wide variety of model texts, look at the Oxford Writing Tutor in the book version of the dictionary, and the Oxford iWriter on the CD-ROM (which is included when you buy the print dictionary).

8. How does the Word of the Day RSS feed work?

By subscribing to the OAAD Word of the Day, you can automatically receive an entry from us every day! Use it to test yourself. Do you know what each word means and how to use it?

If you click on the RSS icon, you will be taken to a page where you need to specify the RSS reader that you want to use to receive the Word of the Day. Many recent browsers (including Internet Explorer, Firefox, Safari, and Chrome) include RSS readers already, but you may choose to download a new reader for your computer or phone.

9. How can I look up words and hear sounds on my mobile device?

For instant, easy access to the full Oxford Advanced American Dictionary via your mobile device, why not get our OAAD app for iOS devices? Searching for words is simple, and no Internet connection is required in order to hear all soundfiles (all with real American voices). Even better, you can choose which parts of the entry you want to show on screen with the "My View" feature. The OAAD app is available on the App StoreSM, and you can find out what other apps are available on the Oxford University Press ELT apps page.

10. How can I contact the OAAD website team?

Please send queries and comments to We will try to reply as soon as possible.

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