Online Dictionaries

How many online dictionaries do you think are offered on the Internet? Let’s see…, a directory of free online bilingual and multilingual dictionaries and glossaries, offers access to over 7,500 dictionaries and glossaries; makes it possible to search 1,065 online English dictionaries at once;

Open Directory Project ( Reference/Dictionaries) lists 1,290 dictionaries.

Impressive numbers! But don’t worry. I am not going to list all these dictionaries here.

What I want to do is draw attention of users of online dictionaries to several essential points. First, not all web-based dictionaries are trusted resources. I would draw the line between real dictionaries and amateur databases of words that cannot be considered dictionaries as such. Since the number of dictionaries on the Net is so huge, choose among the best, the most reputable.

What are the best? To my mind, those associated with prestigious and well-established publishers of paper dictionaries in your country. For example, Merriam-Webster (USA), Oxford (UK), and Cambridge (UK).

Second, dictionaries are often confused with glossaries. However, they are different lexicographic resources. Glossaries are specialized vocabularies with definitions that do not provide other information about words, while dictionaries offer users definitions, information about pronunciation, glosses, part-of-speech information, examples of in-context occurrences, idiomatic expressions, etc. meant to guide the users towards a comprehensive understanding of the meaning and correct use of words.

Proper online dictionaries provide essentially the same lexicographic information that traditional high-quality paper dictionaries supply to their users.

Third, do not replace online bilingual/multilingual dictionaries by online machine translation services. They are different tools developed for different purposes. Dictionaries are the most suitable tools to find out the meaning of single words and word combinations. You can consult dictionaries for the following elements, inter alia:
- meaning
- spelling
- pronunciation
- grammatical forms
- word combinations
- examples of word use
- frequency of word use
- foreign language equivalent
- word origin
- synonyms
- antonyms
- syntactical information

Machine translation engines are meant for translation of texts. They will never give you comprehensive information about an individual word. The information provided by online machine translation services will be partial and often misleading.

And, last but not least, the advantages that online dictionaries offer compared with traditional paper or offline dictionaries include the following:

- fast search
- several ways of searching
- more information on the search
- possibility to compare dictionaries and information in them
- frequent update
- free or low-cost
- easy use
- quick access
- possibility to cut-and-paste
- references to other online sources
- links to other entries
- no disk space required to store dictionaries on your PC
- possibility to include audio files for pronunciation
- easy distribution.

If you need more information, use the specialized Dictionaries Search Engine below:


More data on how to choose the perfect English dictionary.

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_____________________________________________________________________ Website owner: Irina Lychak, self-employed freelance linguist, Russian translator, Ukrainian translator, Kiev (Kyiv), Ukraine

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