Concrete nouns

I'm looking to lookup concrete nouns only (not abstract). Is it possible to filter for these items only?


  • SimoneSimone Administrator admin

    Hi @paulonod - let me find out from one of my colleagues, bear with me!

  • AmosDuveenAmosDuveen Member, Administrator, Moderator admin

    Hi @paulonod,

    That isn't a distinction that is often made in general purpose dictionaries and you won't find it in our English data available via the API.

    Other language data comes from a variety of sources, often with different editorial practices, so I wouldn't rule it out completely for non-English content. Even if we do not have any such distinction in the current offerings, I cannot say with any certainty that it won't appear in future because we are in the process of acquiring new digital content to make available all the time.

    If you have a specific language in mind, I can certainly have a look for you but, as I said, it isn't a common feature in general purpose content so I wouldn't hold out too many hopes from the current range of content.

  • Thx guys. If you have any thoughts about an API somewhere on the internet which will just give concrete names and proper names e.g. like Amazon or ebay product searches, it would help me no end!

  • SimoneSimone Administrator admin

    Hi @paulonod - let me tweet your question from our Oxford Dictionaries API account.
    No guarantee that you will get replies, but it will reach a wider audience. :)

    @AmosDuveen, any other suggestions?

  • AmosDuveenAmosDuveen Member, Administrator, Moderator admin

    Hi @paulonod,

    Why the focus on concrete nouns? ...I only ask because we may find a way to be differently helpful.

    I'm not a lexicographer by training but I do work with them and I can tell you that even concepts you think may be fairly straightforward can be picked apart to the nth degree (hint: do not ever ask a lexicographer to define what a 'word' is, if you know what's good for you!).

    Given that potential complexity you'll find that some linguistic concepts you may have heard about do not actually get referenced in a dictionary because the editors do not consider them to be suitably important to have a protracted debate over, for example in the Oxford Dictionary of English and the New Oxford American Dictionary (our premium single-volume dictionaries of current usage), the 'properness' of a noun is never referenced (FYI: just because the headword starts with a capital letter, doesn't necessarily mean it is 'proper' noun), and you won't find any labels indicating 'slang', which is too fickle to nail down. However, these priorities are evolving with the digital age and the changing way people use dictionary content so the API data now makes an attempt to identify 'proper' nouns, for example.

    Coming back around to the idea of concrete nouns, I can see that this may be just the type of concept which can be argued over ad nauseum to very little benefit in helping people to use the language.

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