Structure of DOST entries

Headword, variant spellings and part of speech

The entry starts with the commonest headword. In the earlier part of the dictionary the first headword listed may have been the closest in form to the etymological source from which it was believed to derive. This is followed by the main variant spellings, and the part of speech. Other variant spellings then follow.


The origin of the word, if known, is given next, usually in square brackets.


Some of the larger entries are divided into sections, e.g. A, B etc. or I, II, etc., with the main senses within them. The main senses are numbered 1, 2, etc., with the most common meaning listed first. These are further subdivided into paragraphs a, b etc. for subsenses and (a), (b) etc. for categories of spelling variation.

Quotations and references

Examples of how a word is used are given after the appropriate definition either as a quotation and its reference, or form and a reference only, without the quotation, where only the spelling of the word is of interest.

The examples appear in chronological order within each sense. Where the date of the example can be determined from the appropriate bibliography item, then the date is not shown in the entry. This was to save space in the printed dictionary by avoiding duplicating the date in both the bibliography and the entries. Where the abbreviation v.d. [various dates] is given in the bibliography – for example for diaries or record texts – then the date of the example is shown in the entry.

The full text of the Guide to the Structure as found in volume XII of DOST is available here.