1. How do I find the word or phrase I want?

Look for a single word as a bold-faced headword at the beginning of an entry. Entries are generally arranged alphabetically.
chemical
[ˈkem.I.kəl]
noun [C] any basic substance which is used in or produced by a reaction involving changes to atoms or molecules
The government has pledged to reduce the amount of chemicals used in food production.
Each year, factories release millions of tonnes of toxic (= poisonous) chemicals into the atmosphere.
chemical
adjective relating to chemicals
Words are sometimes grouped together at an entry when they are used as different parts of speech or because they are very closely related and similar in form and meaning.
chemical
[ˈkem.I.kəl]
noun [C] any basic substance which is used in or produced by a reaction involving changes to atoms or molecules
The government has pledged to reduce the amount of chemicals used in food production.
Each year, factories release millions of tonnes of toxic (= poisonous) chemicals into the atmosphere.
chemical
adjective relating to chemicals
The chemical industry produces such things as petrochemicals, drugs, paint and rubber.
chemically
adverb
The fund provides money to clean up chemically polluted industrial sites.
Look for a compound word (two or more words used together as a single word) at its alphabetical place in the list of entries.
A word may be followed by a GUIDEWORD (a word or short phrase in capital letters). This means that the word has two or more main meanings and that there is at least one other entry for that word. The different guidewords help you to find the sense of the word that you need.
chemist SCIENCE
[ˈkem.Ist]
noun [C] a person who studies chemistry, or a scientist who works with chemicals or studies their reactions
chemist MEDICINE
[ˈkem.Ist]
UK noun [C]
1 (US druggist, ALSO pharmacist) a person whose job is to prepare and sell medicines in a shop
2 (UK ALSO chemist's, US drugstore, ALSO pharmacy) a shop where you can buy medicines, make-up and products used for washing yourself ⇒ See usage note at pharmacy.
If there is a variant or less common form of a word it is shown in brackets soon after the main headword.
combat trousers
plural noun (ALSO combats) loose trousers made of strong material with large pockets on the outside of the legs
British Army camouflage-pattern combat trousers
If the word you are looking for is grouped in an entry that is distant from its alphabetical position, a reference will often tell you where to find it.
compliance
[kəmˈplaI.ənts]
noun [U] See comply.
Sometimes the second word of a headword is shown in brackets. This shows that the meaning is the same whether or not you use the first word or both words together.
combine (harvester)
noun [C] a large farming machine which cuts the plant, separates the seed from the stem and cleans the grain as it moves across a field
Some words in the alphabetical list include ‘the’ before the headword, to show that they are always used in this form.
the contrary OPPOSITE
[ˈkɒn.trə.ri] us [ˈkɑːn.tre-]
noun [S] the opposite
I was worried that it might be too difficult for me but I found the contrary.
on the contrary
used to show that you think or feel the opposite of what has just been stated
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