Entries explained

Dictionary entries explained

The main parts of an entry

A simple entry has four parts. First is the Nkonya headword. This begins each entry and is shown in bold type. If you click on the headword, the entry will come up on a page of its own.

Second is the pronunciation of the word. The pronunciation uses some letters and symbols that aren't in the Nkonya alphabet. These are explained on the Alphabet page here. The pronunciation is often missing when the entry is a complex entry or variant of main entry.

Third is the grammatical part of speech which is shown in an abbreviated form in italic type. (See the List of Abbreviations where these are expanded).

Fourth is the definition which shows the meaning of the Nkonya headword in English.

Plurals, Origins and Examples


Some words have plurals. The plural form is displayed in parentheses after the headword.

Where it is known that an Nkonya word originally came from another language, then this has been indicated by the label: From:. The word 'saɩklɩ' comes from the English word bicycle.

After the definition, there may be one or more example sentences to show the meaning of the word. The Nkonya sentences are in italics, followed an English translation of the sentence. Sometimes there is more than one translation, one that gives the meaning of the words in the sentence (literal), another that explains the whole sentence. An example of this is obia₁, below.

Some plant and animal terms have been given their scientific names. This name, if it is known, is in square brackets and is italicised. For example the scientific name for faasɩ is [Discorea alata]

Some words are said differently in different parts of Nkonya. These differences are called dialect variations. They are labelled dial. var. They are written beside the plurals. The entry for 'obia' (stool/chair) has an example of this. See the entry below.

There are other changes that are marked in the same place as plurals and dialect variations. Here is a list with some examplesː

Kind of change Abbreviated as Example
Spelling variation sp. var. Kwaku vs Kweku
Allophonic variation allo. var. lɛ- vs le-
"looked" vs
leki "roamed"
Contraction -á/ánɩ́
ɔtsɩá/ɔtsɩ ánɩ́

"the woman that"
Singular —
where plural is
the usual form
sg. ogyo
"one yam"
Change without
an explanation
unspec. var. sɩ/ɔsɩ "father"
oyikplu/owikplu "thief"

Senses and Homonyms

The examples above only have one meaning. Sometimes words have multiple meanings. These multiple meanings are called senses and they are indicated in the dictionary by sense numbers.

Each sense begins with a number followed by a dot. The various senses in an entry have distinct meanings, but they are all related in some way. That is why they are given numbers and listed under a single Nkonya headword.

Occasionally, you will notice that the headword is immediately followed by a small lowered number. The lowered number is used to distinguish what we call homonyms. Homonyms are words that have the same spelling but are unrelated in meaning. For example, da₁ can mean "to beat". Other homonyms of da are "to render" (e.g., da₂ ɩpan "render thanks") or "plant a root vegetable" (e.g., da₃ kɩtɩba "plant groundnuts"). Each of those words will have their own entry with their homonym number. In a search box, if you enter a number after a word, it will look for the homonym with that number.

An Entry as Part of Larger Expression

Sometimes an entry can be part of a larger expression. When this happens, the larger expression is given in the entry and the kind of expression is shown. You can click on the larger expression and see its entry.

The larger expression can be a compound or a phrasal verb. The da₁ entry above shows examples of compounds (comp.), and a phrasal verb (ph. v.). A compound is where two or more words come together to give a specific meaning, in Nkonya these are often a verb and noun together. A phrasal verb is two or more verbs coming together to give a new meaning.

An expression may also be an idiom. An idiom is a phrase with a meaning that cannot be determined from the individual words that make up that phrase. For example, futi fɩtatɔ kɩ "to discriminate against" is an idiom that literally means "to pierce a leaf and look through it". It has a reference under futi "to pierce". The link is labelled Idiom:

An Entry can be Related to Other Entries

The headword may also be related in some way to another word in a different part of the dictionary. The entry will have a link to the other word with a label telling what kind of relationship the two entries have. This edition doesn't have all of these links included and properly marked.

Sometimes it means the same as the other word. This is called a synonym. It is marked with the label  Syn:



Sometimes the word can also have the opposite meaning of another word. This is called an antonym and is marked with the label Ant:



Sometimes a word is a general word that has several other words that are particular examples that word. Those examples are labelled Spec: for specific.

In the entries for the specific examples there will be a link back to the general entry. The link will be labelled Gen: for generic.


Sometimes one word comes from another by adding a marker or other change. We then say it is derived from the other. It will be marked in the entry with the label der. For example opleiba is derived from plei "to play" and ɔ- -ba "companion"

Sometimes the relation between the two words is none of these relations.  The link will be marked compare (comp.) For example, in the entry for da₁ above, si is not a synonym for da₁, but they have similar meaning.