Citation Meaning: Here’s What It Means and How to Use It

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If you’re compiling data to write an informative article, it’s important to use citations to tell your readers that certain material in your writing came from another source. You see, citing the sources used in your research is a simple way to give credit to other people’s work (and legitamize your findings). 

Interested in learning more about the term citation (saɪˈteɪ.ʃən, sīˈtāSHən)? We can help. Read on as we dive into the world of terminology to uncover all there is to know about this complex word.  

What Is the Definition of Citation?

If you ask us, one of the best ways to get a good grasp of a new word is to research its definition from multiple sources. 

So, to help you truly understand the meaning behind our word of the day, we went ahead and compiled a shortlist of definitions from three trusted dictionaries for you to review below:

  • According to the Oxford English Dictionary, the word citation can be defined as a quotation from or reference to a paper, book, or author — especially in a scholarly work. A citation can also be defined as a piece of writing or a word that is taken from a written work.
  • When used in law, the Cambridge Dictionary says a citation is a summons for someone to appear before a court of law. Additionally, citation is commonly used in major fields of law to reference the act of citing (chiefly legal precedents, written passages or spoken words, etc.).
  • The Collins Dictionary defines citation as an official speech, formal statement or document that praises a person for something brave or special that they’ve done — usually for gallantry. 

Fun Fact: The abbreviation of the Latin term (which literally means “and others”) et al. is commonly used in academics to source multiple authors.

What Is the Word Origin of Citation?

The etymology of our word of the day starts in c.1300. Citation is a derivative of Middle English citacioun and Late Latin citātiōn, which is the stem of citātiō.

What Are the Synonyms and Antonyms of Citation?

To further your understanding of the word citation, it can be especially helpful to open a thesaurus to review its synonyms and antonyms. 

A synonym is a term that has the same or nearly the same definition of another word whereas an antonym is a term that has the opposite definition of another word.  


  • Commendation 
  • Enumeration 
  • Mention of
  • Excerpt
  • Hint at
  • Intimation of
  • Appeal to
  • Passage
  • Court order
  • Subpoena ad testificandum
  • Citation of
  • Honorable mention 
  • Fragment
  • Allusion to
  • Clipping
  • Claim form
  • Habeas corpus
  • Temporary restraining order
  • Comment on
  • Canto
  • Turn of phrase
  • Way of speaking
  • Idiomatic expression
  • Set phrase
  • Blue ribbon
  • Gold star
  • Catchphrase 
  • Quoting
  • Remark about
  • Extract 
  • Word group
  • Phrasal idiom 
  • Alarm bells
  • Red flag
  • Written material
  • Case study
  • Industrial tribunal 
  • Honorable mention
  • Accolade 
  • Finger-pointing 
  • Calling on
  • Phrasal verb 
  • Suggestion of
  • Signature phrase
  • Choice of words
  • Sound bite
  • Pearls of wisdom
  • Words of wisdom
  • Bill of indictment 
  • Official commendation 


  • Demerit
  • Silence
  • Reality
  • Ignorance
  • Quiet
  • Approval
  • Commendation
  • Compliment
  • Exoneration
  • Acquittal
  • Absolution
  • Recommendation
  • Flattery
  • Praise
  • Snub
  • Defense
  • Oversight
  • Ignoring
  • Disregard
  • Reproof
  • Reproach
  • Censure
  • Calumny
  • Attack
  • Blame
  • Criticism
  • Accusation 

How Can You Use Citation in a Sentence?

The word citation is a noun that refers to an official document or a passage from a piece of writing — but do you know how to use it properly in a sentence? Don’t worry; here’s a shortlist of sentence examples for you to study below: 

“As soon as I saw the police officer turn around to follow me, I knew my day was going to end with a traffic citation.” 

“Can you please help me with the citations on my research paper? I don’t know how to cite a movie.”

“I thought I had cited all my sources correctly, but allegedly, I didn’t cite them in proper MLA format.” 

“Do you know if it’s proper APA style citation to use the abbreviation et al.?”

“Why are we learning about in-text citations, you ask? Well, Charles, without proper citation, you run the risk of being charged with plagiarism, and that is no laughing matter.” 

“Okay, everyone, I need you to follow along and print the citation in parentheses. Just as I have on the example posted on the chalkboard.” 

“The professor was a little miffed with me this morning. I forgot to cite my page numbers on my last research paper. Truth be told, I found it all off wiktionary, so maybe we just let that one go.” 

What Are Translations of Citation?

Did you know that there are multiple ways to say the word citation? Some common translations of citation are as follows:

  • American English — citation 
  • Brazilian Portuguese — menção 
  • Chinese (simplified) — 嘉奖
  • Afrikaans — aanhaling
  • Arabic — ذكر
  • Bulgarian — цитат
  • Croatian — citat
  • European Spanish — mención 
  • Italian — citazione 
  • Japanese — 表彰
  • Czech — citace
  • Danish — citat
  • Finnish — lainaus
  • British English — citation
  • Korean — 표창장
  • Romanian — citare 
  • European Portuguese — menção 
  • Spanish — mención 
  • Greek — αναφορά
  • Turkish — Alıntı
  • Ukrainian — цитата
  • Vietnamese — trích dẫn
  • Thai — ใบประกาศเกียรติคุณ, คำสดุดี
  • French — citation 
  • German — Belobigung

A Final Word

Now that you understand what the word citation means, you will know to pause the next time someone presents you with one — and not just for dramatic effect. 

While it’s true that a citation can refer to some sort of an achievement or award, it may be a summons to appear in court, and let’s be honest — no one has time for that!

We hope you enjoyed learning all there is to know about the word citation. If you’d like to discover more peculiar terms, head on over to our website, where you’ll find informative blogs, useful tips, and grammar tools. 

Whether you’re looking to enhance your existing vocabulary or simply hoping to make sense of a confusing word, don’t settle for anything less. Check out The Word Counter and expand your mind today!


CITATION English Definition and Meaning | 

CITATION : definition | The Cambridge English Dictionary 

Citation definition and meaning | Collins English Dictionary