Treatment of multi-word lexical items in the dictionary: the current situation and the potential problems facing dictionary users

Alenka Vrbinc, Marjeta Vrbinc


In this article, we first discuss the inclusion of idioms in the latest printed editions of monolingual learner’s dictionaries; we then consider and evaluate the success of look-up operations in connection with the recognition of the correct part of speech. The central part of the article discusses and justifies the macro- and microstructural treatment of multi-word lexical items. Finally, we address the issue of including idioms in the microstructure as special senses of the lemma, as usage examples and/or in the idioms section. The inclusion and treatment of multi-word lexical items depends on the needs of potential dictionary users. Lexicographers should therefore strive to adopt a pragmatic approach that would help the user to locate a multi-word lexical item with minimal effort. When compiling a bilingual dictionary, contrastive differences between source and target languages should also be taken into consideration.


monolingual dictionaries; bilingual dictionaries; idiomatic expressions; macrostructure; microstructure; dictionary users; English; Slovene

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Copyright (c) 2012 Alenka Vrbinc, Marjeta Vrbinc

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ISSN 1736-2563 (print)
ISSN 2228-0677 (online)
DOI 10.5128/ERYa.1736-2563