Skip to main content
Select Source:

COLLOCATION

COLLOCATION.
1. The act of putting two or more things together, especially words in a pattern, and the result of that act.

2. In LINGUISTICS, a habitual association between particular words, such as to with fro in the phrase to and fro, and the uses of to after answer and before me in You'll answer to me (as opposed to You'll answer me). In the phrase Let's draw up a list, the phrasal verb draw up is said to collocate with the noun list; one can draw up a list of legal terms but not *draw up legal terms (although one can list legal terms). Collocation is basic to language. Its subtleties must be learned, and failure to get the collocations of English right is a major indicator of foreignness: for example, talking about rotten rather than rancid butter. IDIOMS are usually fixed in form and used without recourse to the meanings of their elements: it can rain cats and dogs, but never *dogs and cats or *cats and cows. Even with idioms, however, there can be some leeway: for example, at least the three verbs banging, hitting, and knocking can occupy the slot in the idiomatic sentence It's like—your head against a (brick) wall. Collocations are more loosely associated than idioms: contiguously (as with tortoise and shell in tortoiseshell) or proximately (as with cat and purr in The cat was purring). When the elements of compound words collocate, they form new lexical items: house and boat coming together in both houseboat and boathouse, each with a distinct meaning and use. An item that collocates with another is its collocate.

Cite this article
Pick a style below, and copy the text for your bibliography.

  • MLA
  • Chicago
  • APA

"COLLOCATION." Concise Oxford Companion to the English Language. . Encyclopedia.com. 19 Feb. 2018 <http://www.encyclopedia.com>.

"COLLOCATION." Concise Oxford Companion to the English Language. . Encyclopedia.com. (February 19, 2018). http://www.encyclopedia.com/humanities/encyclopedias-almanacs-transcripts-and-maps/collocation

"COLLOCATION." Concise Oxford Companion to the English Language. . Retrieved February 19, 2018 from Encyclopedia.com: http://www.encyclopedia.com/humanities/encyclopedias-almanacs-transcripts-and-maps/collocation

Learn more about citation styles

Citation styles

Encyclopedia.com gives you the ability to cite reference entries and articles according to common styles from the Modern Language Association (MLA), The Chicago Manual of Style, and the American Psychological Association (APA).

Within the “Cite this article” tool, pick a style to see how all available information looks when formatted according to that style. Then, copy and paste the text into your bibliography or works cited list.

Because each style has its own formatting nuances that evolve over time and not all information is available for every reference entry or article, Encyclopedia.com cannot guarantee each citation it generates. Therefore, it’s best to use Encyclopedia.com citations as a starting point before checking the style against your school or publication’s requirements and the most-recent information available at these sites:

Modern Language Association

http://www.mla.org/style

The Chicago Manual of Style

http://www.chicagomanualofstyle.org/tools_citationguide.html

American Psychological Association

http://apastyle.apa.org/

Notes:
  • Most online reference entries and articles do not have page numbers. Therefore, that information is unavailable for most Encyclopedia.com content. However, the date of retrieval is often important. Refer to each style’s convention regarding the best way to format page numbers and retrieval dates.
  • In addition to the MLA, Chicago, and APA styles, your school, university, publication, or institution may have its own requirements for citations. Therefore, be sure to refer to those guidelines when editing your bibliography or works cited list.

Collocation

Collocation

a group or sequence formed by placing things side by side or in a place or position. e.g., words in a sentence or sound in musicWilkes.

Examples: collocation of intervals and pores, 1684; of magazines, 1813; of poetry, 1873; of various metals, or inlaying them by way of ornament, 1881; of vowels and consonants, 1751; of words, 1750.

Cite this article
Pick a style below, and copy the text for your bibliography.

  • MLA
  • Chicago
  • APA

"Collocation." Dictionary of Collective Nouns and Group Terms. . Encyclopedia.com. 19 Feb. 2018 <http://www.encyclopedia.com>.

"Collocation." Dictionary of Collective Nouns and Group Terms. . Encyclopedia.com. (February 19, 2018). http://www.encyclopedia.com/education/dictionaries-thesauruses-pictures-and-press-releases/collocation

"Collocation." Dictionary of Collective Nouns and Group Terms. . Retrieved February 19, 2018 from Encyclopedia.com: http://www.encyclopedia.com/education/dictionaries-thesauruses-pictures-and-press-releases/collocation

Learn more about citation styles

Citation styles

Encyclopedia.com gives you the ability to cite reference entries and articles according to common styles from the Modern Language Association (MLA), The Chicago Manual of Style, and the American Psychological Association (APA).

Within the “Cite this article” tool, pick a style to see how all available information looks when formatted according to that style. Then, copy and paste the text into your bibliography or works cited list.

Because each style has its own formatting nuances that evolve over time and not all information is available for every reference entry or article, Encyclopedia.com cannot guarantee each citation it generates. Therefore, it’s best to use Encyclopedia.com citations as a starting point before checking the style against your school or publication’s requirements and the most-recent information available at these sites:

Modern Language Association

http://www.mla.org/style

The Chicago Manual of Style

http://www.chicagomanualofstyle.org/tools_citationguide.html

American Psychological Association

http://apastyle.apa.org/

Notes:
  • Most online reference entries and articles do not have page numbers. Therefore, that information is unavailable for most Encyclopedia.com content. However, the date of retrieval is often important. Refer to each style’s convention regarding the best way to format page numbers and retrieval dates.
  • In addition to the MLA, Chicago, and APA styles, your school, university, publication, or institution may have its own requirements for citations. Therefore, be sure to refer to those guidelines when editing your bibliography or works cited list.