A simple entry has three parts. First is the Gwama headword. This begins each entry and is shown in bold type. Second is the grammatical part of speech which is shown in an abbreviated form in italic type. (See the List of Abbreviations where these are explained). Third is the definition which shows the meaning of the Gwama headword in English and Amharic.
Sometimes words can be used in multiple ways. These multiple uses are called senses and they are indicated in the dictionary by sense numbers. Each sense begins with a number followed by a parenthesis. The various senses in an entry may be related in meaning. That is why they are given numbers and listed under a single Gwama headword. In the following example, the first and second definitions are verbs, and the 3rd and 4th are nouns.
ata 1) v count 2) v read 3) n number 4) n passage; piece of writing
Occasionally you will notice that the headword is immediately followed by a small lowered number. The lowered number is used to distinguish homonyms. Homonyms are words that have the same spelling but are unrelated in meaning.
Words for things are called nouns and are indicated with n. as the part of speech. When you want to look up a Gwama noun you should look for the singular form of the noun, even if the word you are looking for is plural. For example, if you are looking for the plural noun ‘ma ɨmɨ’ you should look up the singular form ‘ɨmɨ’. If there is a plural form it will be listed after the singular form and preceded with the label Pl:.
Where it is known that a word has originally come from another language, then this has been indicated by the label: From:. For example, ‘morta’ would indicate From: Oromo.