Linguistic Library (Mike Green)

Note: You may download the entries for this glossary here. If you wish to use this in your own Moodle course, first make a blank glossary and then follow the instructions for importing glossary entries here.

A glossary of linguistic terms, designed for A Level (UK) English Language Students.

Browse the glossary using this index

Special | A | B | C | D | E | F | G | H | I | J | K | L | M | N | O | P | Q | R | S | T | U | V | W | X | Y | Z | ALL

Page: (Previous)   1  2  3  4  5  6  7  8  9  (Next)



Graphology is too often misunderstood. Its early meaning was to refer to the appearance of a person's handwriting but in linguistics it more often means the formal aspects of a written and printed language: its layout and general visual appearance on the page. Students studying A-level English Language are often warned not to spend too much time on discussing graphology.

Typography is the correct word to refer to different choices of typeface.


Head word

The head or head word of a phrase is the word around which the phrase is built, i.e. the main word that determines the core meaning of the whole phrase, e.g.

  • in the noun phrase the old-fashioned door, the head word is door
  • in the verb phrase, might have been hit the head word is hit.



Ideology refers to the important 'belief systems' adhered to by groups or whole societies - it is our 'world view' or 'mind set' concerning how things are and ought to be. A society is a group of people who share certain key values and ideas. These values and ideas are called that society's ideologies. Texts are created by speakers and writers who share society's beliefs concerning 'what is right' and 'what is wrong' or about 'the way things should be for the best' in society.


a variety of language used by a particular individual - in effect, a one person dialect.


Idiomatic language refers to many words or phrases that are a familiar and everyday feature of our language. Idioms are a part of the comfortable, conversational style of language we use daily - but to a foreigner, idioms are difficult to understand because their meaning is very different from the literal meaning of the words that make them up, e.g. 'He wants his pound of flesh.' 'You scratch my back, I'll scratch yours''He's a pain in the neck!', etc. Each of these are idioms - or idiomatic phrases.


A command sentence which uses the second person plural form of a verb but misses out the subject pronoun 'you'. It gives orders, e.g. Leave now! Sit down.


A form of a verb without tense and often introduced by 'to' infinitive forms can replace noun phrases as subject or object of a verb, e.g.

  • Object: He likes to eat
  • Subject: To fish is a very relaxing way to spend the morning.


The way words can change their form to show, for example, that they are singular or plural (e.g. table becomes tables) and to indicate tense (e.g. change becomes changes/ changed/ changing) or possession (The cat's whiskers).


A word class that is used to show emotion, e.g. 'Ouch!', 'Hey!'


A verb is called intransitive when no action transfers from their subject to an object, e.g.

  • She sang beautifully (No object in this sentence - beautifully is an adverbial)
  • He swam like a fish (No object in this sentence - like a fish is an adverbial)
  • They  died (No object or adverbial in this sentence)

A transitive verb takes an object - the thing that takes its action,
e.g. He [S] hit [V] his thumb [O] with the hammer [A].

Page: (Previous)   1  2  3  4  5  6  7  8  9  (Next)