Definition of collocation in English:

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Pronunciation: /ˌkäləˈkāSHən/


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
More example sentences
  • 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.
1.1A pair or group of words that are habitually juxtaposed: “strong coffee” 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
More example sentences
  • 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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