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This article examines a number of issues that are involved in dictionary compilation, including terminology, elicitation, kinds of meanings, lexical relationships, componential analysis and definitions. Definitions may be both folk and technical and the methodology suggested here profits from the semantic framework and theory of Wierzbicka (1985, 1986, 1987), as well as from other sources. Illustrations are given in Tok Pisin as well as in English. The article concludes with a number of practical suggestions which are relevant in compiling dictionaries in the vernacular languages of Papua New Guinea.