APA Dictionary Entry Citation – Format & Examples

14.02.23 Commonly used citations Time to read: 4min

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Source citation and referencing are critical elements in academic writing. All sources, including dictionaries, must be cited using a particular citation format. This article discusses the format and guidelines for APA dictionary entry citation.

APA Dictionary Entry Citation – In a Nutshell

  • The APA style for dictionary citation starts with the author, publication year, the cited word, name of the dictionary, the publisher’s name (if it is not the same as the author, and the link (URL).1
  • When providing an APA dictionary entry citation from an online dictionary, you do not have to include the publication date. Instead, you can write “n.d.” or “no date” and indicate the retrieval date.2
  • The APA dictionary entry citation guidelines for print dictionaries also differ because you must include the exact publication date. Also, if the publisher and author are the same, you do not have to mention the name twice.3
  • The APA dictionary entry citation guidelines for online dictionaries include a retrieval date at the end of the citation and do not have a publication date. Instead of adding a publication date, you can write “n.d.,” meaning “no date.”

Definition: APA dictionary entry citation

The APA style is a format for citing sources in an academic paper. It offers guidelines for citing different sources, including survey and dictionary entries. The guidelines differ depending on the edition. The most recent APA edition is the 7th.1

An APA dictionary entry citation should include the author’s name, year of publication, the word

you want to cite, name of the dictionary, publisher, and the link or URL.1 The citation may also include the editor’s name, according to the 7th edition of the APA referencing format guidelines. However, if the publisher is also listed as the author, you can skip the publisher portion of the reference.

Here is a breakdown of the APA dictionary entry citation format formula:

APA format formula Author’s last name, initial. (publication year). Word cited. Editor’s Initials Last name (Ed.), In Name of Dictionary. Publisher. URL
APA reference list Brian, L. (2018). Reserve. J. Santorini (Ed.), In Oxford Dictionary. Oxford Publishing Co. https://www.oxford-dictionary.com/reserve
APA in-text citation Parenthetical: (Brian, 2018)
Narrative: Brian (2018)
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APA dictionary entry citation: Online dictionary entry

The APA dictionary entry citation formula for online dictionaries differs slightly from print dictionaries. This is primarily because online sources are usually updated continuously. That means dictionaries usually do not have a particular publication date.3

Instead of indicating the publication date, your citation should feature the term “n.d.” or “no date.” Additionally, the APA dictionary entry citation for online sources should include the date of retrieval.2 The retrieval date usually comes at the end of the citation.


Oxford-Pub. (n.d.). Retrieve. In Oxford-pub.com dictionary. Retrieved May 24, 2022, from https://ww.oxford-pub.com/dictionary/retrieve

APA dictionary entry citation: A print dictionary

Various editions of print dictionaries exist, each with a specific date of publication. The same dictionary may have several editions, with varying publication dates. Therefore, your APA dictionary entry citation should include a publication year when citing from a print dictionary. However, if the publisher is the same as the author, only list it once.4

Checkout the APA dictionary entry formula below:

APA format formula Name of publisher. (Year). Word cited. In Name of Dictionary (Edition, p. Page Number). Publisher.
APA reference list Faith Daniels. (2017). Citation. In Daniels English Dictionary (5th ed., p. 898).
APA in-text citation (Faith Daniels, 2017)

It is worth mentioning that most print sources do not indicate a publisher’s name. Therefore, instead of the author’s name, you can write the organization’s name. If the organization’s name is the same as the publisher, you can leave out the publisher’s name section.


The APA entry dictionary citation should include the author, publication year, the cited word, name of the dictionary, the publisher’s name (if it is not the same as the author, and the link (URL). However, the format formula differs between print and online APA dictionary entry citations.

The retrieval date is included instead of the publication date because online dictionaries go through continuous updates. So, they do not have a specific publication date.

No, the formula differs slightly. Online APA dictionary entry citations do not include the publication date, while print citations include the publication date. Also, the print citation formula may exclude the author’s name, while the latter includes a retrieval date.

The formula for APA dictionary entry citation includes the publishing company, year, word, dictionary name, edition, page number, and the URL.


1 American Psychological Association. “Dictionary Entry References.” APA Style. February, 2020. https://apastyle.apa.org/style-grammar-guidelines/references/examples/dictionary-entry-references.

2 Proofed. “How to Cite a Dictionary Entry in APA Referencing.” February 5, 2021. https://proofed.com/writing-tips/how-to-cite-a-dictionary-entry-in-apa-referencing/.

3 Smith-Jennings, Veronica. “The APA Format for a Dictionary Entry.” Pen & Pad. May 25, 2013. https://penandthepad.com/apa-format-dictionary-entry-2313.html.

4 University Libraries. “APA Citation Guide (7th Edition): Dictionaries, Thesauruses and Encyclopedias.” University of Nevada, Reno. Accessed January 18, 2023. https://guides.library.unr.edu/apacitation/cite-dictionaries.