Standard Article



Published Online: 5 NOV 2012

DOI: 10.1002/9781405198431.wbeal1285

The Encyclopedia of Applied Linguistics

How to Cite

FELLBAUM, C. 2012. WordNet. The Encyclopedia of Applied Linguistics. .

Publication History

  1. Published Online: 5 NOV 2012


WordNet (Miller, Beckwith, Fellbaum, Gross, & Miller 1990; Miller & Fellbaum, 1991; Miller, 1995; Fellbaum, 1998), a lexical database for English, can be thought of as a large electronic dictionary. It contains information about some 155,000 nouns, verbs, adjectives, and adverbs, including simplex words like put, phrasal verbs like put up, and idioms like put out the dog. Its digital format frees WordNet from the constraints of traditional paper dictionaries, whose entries have to be arranged according to their spelling (and thus, to some extent, their pronunciation). But since an important function of dictionaries is to inform users about word meanings, entries in WordNet are organized in terms of their semantics. Specifically, words in WordNet that are similar in meaning are interlinked by means of pointers that stand for a semantic relation. Formally, WordNet is a semantic network, an acyclic graph.


  • computational linguistics;
  • natural language processing;
  • semantics;
  • vocabulary