Home > Usage Guide

Usage Guide


The Open Education Sociology Dictionary (OESD) is focused on providing entry level definitions and additional information to sociology students, educators, and the curious. The dictionary is designed to be easy to understand and use. However, with any dictionary of a 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 and the typical, entry level definition. The OESD is not prescriptive, the definitions do not indicate “correct usage” and many words are contested.

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. Grammatical and syntactical conventions typically follow American English and academic usage.

The OESD attempts where possible to use neutral 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 invent a new word or phrase; make up; originate.
  • 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.



Citing the OESD: Please see the front page for general citation information or any definition for specific citation information.