CANONICAL FORM

The canonical form is the form chosen to represent the headword in a dictionary. In English, many items have only one written form (prepositions, conjunctions, e.g.) but others offer more possibilities (nouns, verbs e.g.) By convention, dictionaries use the shortest form: the singular of nouns, the infinitive of verbs or the positive degree of adjectives or adverbs. When a word is polysemous, one form represents more than one word or lexeme (example: bear), when it is homonymous more than one article is headed by the same form. If a word can be written in various ways, the most common is chosen by dictionary-makers (example: the British spelling in a British dictionary). The canonical form represents itself and any inflection. Derivations like “player” (canonical form: play) get an entry themselves or are listed “run-on” (McArthur 1992, p. 188).