Definitions

from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

  • n. A word, phrase, or name, usually set in boldface or other distinctive type, that serves as the heading for an entry in a dictionary, encyclopedia, or similar reference work. Also called entry word.
  • n. Grammar A word that may be modified by an adjunct.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • n. a word used as the title of a section, particularly in a dictionary, encyclopedia, or thesaurus
  • n. any word which may be modified by an adjunct

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • n. a word that is qualified by a modifier.
  • n. a word placed at the beginning of a line, paragraph, or short article (as in a dictionary or encyclopedia entry); the word which forms the title of an entry in a dictionary.

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • n. A word put as a title (and printed usually in a distinctive type) at the head of a paragraph, as the words in full-face at the beginning of the several articles in this dictionary; a title-word; a word constituting a heading or a side-head.

from WordNet 3.0 Copyright 2006 by Princeton University. All rights reserved.

  • n. a content word that can be qualified by a modifier
  • n. (grammar) the word in a grammatical constituent that plays the same grammatical role as the whole constituent
  • n. a word placed at the beginning of a line or paragraph (as in a dictionary entry)
  • n. a content word that can be qualified by a modifier

Etymologies

From head +‎ word. Compare West Frisian haadwurd ("noun, substantive, headword"), Dutch hoofdwoord ("headword"), German Hauptwort ("noun, substantive, headword"), Swedish huvudord ("headword, keyword"). (Wiktionary)

Examples

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