What sorts of features are missing from dictionaries?

I'm not talking about new words, I'm talking about for any given word. what do current dictionaries not capture about it?

What -is- currently captured is:

  • existence of words
  • part of speech
  • changes in morphology
  • pronunciation
  • multiple senses

and sometimes - etymology - very rough register (e.g. slang, vulgar, archaic, obsolete) - very rough dialect (e.g. "Primarily BrE") - example sentences from literature - indications of technical ares (nautical, medical, sports, etc) - synonyms and antonyms (more properly contained in a separate volume a thesaurus) - locutions and idioms that the word participates in But really, these are almost always easily confirmed by a native speaker but opaque to the non-native speaker. You can't learn the usage of a word by looking it up in the dictionary (and as good as google translate is, it can really miss sometimes). - preferred/prescribed use vs. what people say.

So I think there are some very obvious things missing. Sure they might be hopelessly vague

  • connotations (associated contexts) not implied by the worded definition. These might be words that aren't synonyms but you find in the same contexts. This is the largest one that I think is missing.
  • frequency of use (you found a word that fits exactly the definition of the concept you want, but no one ever uses it (not the same as archaic or obsolete).
  • More refined register (this might need description of cultural contexts)

The question is, what do you think would be good additions to dictionary entries?

  • 3
    I know of a dictionary that marks the words in red with 1 to 3 stars if the words have a higher frequency. – Theta30 Apr 26 '11 at 0:06
  • Well, for starters: hot tubs, mixed drinks, lap dances, cherry pie, video games, scenic mountain vistas — yeah, I know, you can find them all in the dictionary, but somehow they're just better in real life. No, really. ^_^ – Robusto Apr 27 '11 at 0:04

Browse other questions tagged .