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Usage Guide

The Open Education Sociology Dictionary (OESD) is focused on providing entry level and indermediate level definitions to sociology students, students, and the curious. The dictionary is designed to be useful, easy to understand, and easy to use. However, with any dictionary of specific discipline, technical language and jargon is rampant.

The OESD is a descriptive dictionary, it attempts to describe sociological terms as they are understood currently in the field or the typical definition. The OESD is not proscriptive, the definitions do not indicate “correct usage.”

The OESD follows the recommendations of American Sociological Association (ASA) to determine matters of formatting, presentation, and referencing. The ASA Style Guide (2014), 5th edition outlines these best practices. Additionally, the Chicago Manual of Style (2010) 16th edition is used for all matters not addressed in ASA Style Guide. When matters of correct spelling and usage occur the Merriam-Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary (2005), 11th edition is followed as recommended by the ASA Style Guide.

The OESD attempts when possible to avoid sexist, ageist, language. This includes using the singular they.

Parts of Speech

  • (adjective) – Word that expresses an attribute of a noun (big, little, short, tall).
  • (adverb) – Word that modifies or qualifies the meaning of an adjective (unbelievably talented), verb (singing loudly), or another adverb (singing quite beautifully).
  • (noun)Person (teacher, Bob); place (mountain, New York City) thing (rock); idea (happiness); or quality (charismatic).
  • (verb)Action (run); occurrence (happen); or state of being (be).


  • e.g. For example
  • etc. – And so on
  • i.e. – In other words
  • et al. – And others

Useful Terms

  • coin – (verb) To create a word or additional meaning of a word.
  • compare – (noun) How two or more things are similar.
  • connotation – (noun) The figurative or emotional meaning of a word.
  • contrast – (noun) How two or more things are different.
  • denotation – (noun) The literal dictionary meaning of a word.
  • type – (noun) A specific version of the primary word.


  • [Example] – Indicates modification from the original, without changing the meaning, used typically for capitalization, to change plurality, or for clarification.
  • . . . – Indicates the removal of a portion of the quoted text for brevity but not in a way that changes the meaning.