Definition of collocation in English:


Line breaks: col¦lo|ca¦tion
Pronunciation: /kɒləˈkeɪʃ(ə)n


[mass noun]
  • 1 Linguistics The habitual juxtaposition of a particular word with another word or words with a frequency greater than chance: the words have a similar range of collocation
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    • If the substituted words have relevant meanings, so much the better; and if the original collocation is archaic or otherwise non-compositional, that improves the chances still further.
    • This example shows how the meanings of words are constructed and maintained by patterns of collocation.
    • Johnson gave little attention to collocation, idiom, and grammatical information, although he provided a brief grammar at the front.
  • 1.1 [count noun] A pair or group of words that are habitually juxtaposed: ‘strong tea’ and ‘heavy drinker’ are typical English collocations
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    • The collocations go to church/school/college and be at church/school/college are shared, but go to university/be at university and go to hospital/be in hospital are BrE, AmE requiring the as in go to the university.
    • For example, he invites us to ‘consider the number of collocations like ‘by and large’ that we use with no discernible compositional rationale.’
    • He has smoothed out a whole range of peculiar collocations and syntactical anomalies in order to make the translation flow.
  • 2The action of placing things side by side or in position: the collocation of the two pieces
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    • Despite the legal prohibition, Army plans already have included such collocation of women-men units in blueprints for a lighter force of 10 active divisions, according to Defense Department sources.
    • What is the highest compliment payable to a stout, 800-page collocation of investigative articles, cultural and literary essays, think pieces, and random philosophical noodling?
    • He defines style as involving the latter two of his three processes of expression-the collocation of words into sentences and the construction of rhetorical figures.


late Middle English: from Latin collocatio(n-), from collocare 'place together' (see collocate).

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