Dictionaries & Encyclopedias

Dictionaries and encyclopedias are a great place to begin your research. They can help you define terminology and find background information on a topic, and often include a bibliography of additional sources. Dictionaries and encyclopedias can be general or specialized.

We have dictionaries for the English language and many foreign languages, as well as dictionaries covering specialized terms across disciplines. To find discipline-specific dictionaries, consult the subject page for your discipline.

General encyclopedias provide users with an overview on a wide variety of topics. Subject specific encyclopedias also provide overviews of topics but focus on a particular subject or discipline. The entries are written by scholars or subject experts.


Find subject-specific dictionaries and encyclopedias by consulting our Research by Subject page for your discipline along with relevant course guides. Consult the Dictionaries & Thesauri guide for English language and foreign language resources.


  • Oxford English Dictionary
    The Oxford English Dictionary (OED) is the accepted authority on the English language and is the guide to the meaning, history, and pronunciation of 600,000 words — past and present — from across the English-speaking world, tracing how they have changed over time.
  • Oxford Reference Online
    Oxford Reference Online brings together language and subject reference works published by one of the world's biggest reference publishers, as well as a range of key titles in the Oxford Companion series. A wide range of disciplines is covered.

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