This is an entry in a dictionary I need some help with:

TFD def for a phrase "put on" 8. To produce or perform some event: The children put on a puppet show. There is a concert this weekend, but I'm not sure which organization is putting it on.

In this dictionary, this kind of entry is very common. They explain a word or phrase by using two different verbs(synonyms) with slightly or completely different meanings and then give you two example sentences that fit those verbs. My question is, which of these sentences can be used with the verb "produce" here. I'm asking because as far as I remember these verbs are usually written in the same order as example sentences that contain them(i.e a first word can be found in a first example sentence listed and the second one in a second). But in this case, I think the word "produce" fits the second sentence in this entry and performs a first one. The children are "performing" a puppet show but do not produce it and an organization is "producing" a show and not "performing" it. Am I correct? Is the definition for the word "produce" below applying to the sentence with the childer?

Cambridge dic def for the word "produce" to organize the practical and financial matters relating to the preparation of a film, play, or television or radio programme

2 Answers 2


The children are probably performing the puppet show. They may also be "producing" it (in the sense that they are organising the practical matters) although there is probably not much complex organisation to be done. But they might (for example) make tickets to "sell" to the family.

A difference between the phrasal verb "put on" and "produce" is that the latter is more formal, and more appropriate to a formally organised show, and not a family puppet show. So to say "The children are performing and producing a puppet show" would be unnatural. The example shows the natural usage of put on. Of course a dictionary can't capture every nuance of register and usage.

On the other hand the organisation that is putting on the concert is probably not performing. You could also say "AC/DC are putting on a concert" with the understanding that they are only performing and won't have any part in the practical organisation. The meaning is understood in context.

I don't think you can assume that the first gloss goes with the first example. If different glosses can only fit different examples, then they would normally be treated as different senses (and so have separate definitions).

  • 1
    (Heh, my kids have "put on" some spontaneous shows that were 90% production and 10% performance...) Nov 29, 2021 at 19:36

No, as far as I'm aware there isn't a correlation between multiple words in a definition and multiple example sentences. Dictionary entries often define a word by equating it with other words; this is because it's rare that any two words mean exactly the same thing; there is overlap in which they share "some" of their meaning. ("Produce," "perform," and "put on" are not exact synonyms for each other, but sometimes they can all refer to similar things.) As for example sentences, if you get more than one, that's fortunate, but there isn't a particular order to them.

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .