What base does vocabulary.com use for its hierarchy of meanings of a word? For example see http://www.vocabulary.com/dictionary/sound. Are top levels (numbered list) all homonyms?

What structure do you think is best for showing various meanings of a graph (word) in a dictionary?

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    I can't comment on vocabulary.com, either. As for your last question, it depends on a dictionary. For example, the OED does it chronologically (diachronic description), whereas most English dictionaries (which happen to be synchronic) do it based on frequency - i.e. the most common meaning comes first.
    – Alex B.
    Nov 19, 2012 at 18:30
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    This is why dictionaries seldom agree on the number or order of senses, and why old dictionaries differ in the same regard from new dictionaries. Oct 22, 2013 at 12:54

1 Answer 1


Vocabulary.com's senses (and entries) are generally the same as WordNet's: compare with sound at wordnet.princeton.edu. Vocabulary.com has clearly done some filtering to make the entries less Weirdnet: note that there's no example sentence for "the audible part of a transmitted signal", which in WordNet is exemplified by "they always raise the audio for commercials", i.e. without the headword "sound".

That's a much more straightforward question than what is the best structure for showing the various meanings of a term in a dictionary. As Alex B. notes in his comment, it depends on the dictionary, but this question asks about meaning as "hierarchical", which could be considered begging the question. Most synchronic dictionaries do present meanings within an ad-hoc hierarchy, but there are also componential and prototypal approaches to semantic analysis/description, very solidly exemplified in Pustejovsky's Generative Lexicon theory.

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    Also, words are under no obligation to ensure their senses have an inherent or consistent hierarchy (-: Oct 22, 2013 at 12:56

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