My 6 Favorite Dictionary Apps for English Language Learners

 
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Just as many photographers believe the best camera is the one that’s always with you, I believe the best dictionary is the one that’s most accessible.

For me, the most accessible dictionary is the Dictionary app on my Mac and its Look Up counterpart on iPhone and iPad. However, I also use several third-party dictionary apps that are either more comprehensive, specialized or bilingual.

If you're serious about expanding your vocabulary, then you need at least one dictionary app. If you're still using a paperback dictionary, perhaps the free/affordably-priced apps found herein and their compelling features will persuade you otherwise.

In this post, I’m going to share my 6 favorite dictionary apps for English language learners.

Disclosure: Some of the links below are affiliate links, which means that if you click a link and make a purchase Culture Gaps will earn a very small commission – at no additional cost to you.

1. Dictionary & Look Up (macOS & iOS)

Description

The New Oxford American Dictionary is pre-installed on macOS and its Look Up counterpart can be found in the Edit Menu on iOS. The dictionary can be accessed while working in apps or webpages on either macOS or iOS. Here's how to add the New Oxford American Dictionary, bilingual dictionaries or non-English dictionaries:

macOS
Dictionary > Preferences > Check the dictionaries you want to add.

iOS
Settings > Dictionary > Check the dictionaries you want to add.

Dictionary on macOS High Sierra (Apple Laptops / Desktops)
To look up definitions without launching the Dictionary app, use two fingers to click on a highlighted word. Then, click Look Up "word" from the context menu. After that, a pop-over menu will appear.

Look Up on iOS 11 (iPhone / iPad)
Currently, Apple doesn't provide a first-party dictionary app, but you can still access the dictionary with Look Up. To look up definitions, tap to highlight a word. Then, tap Look Up. Tap the card to reveal more information.

Read this Culture Gaps post: How to Add the American English Dictionary and Look Up Definitions on iPhone & iPad

Features

  • Autocomplete (macOS)
  • Definitions, Synonyms & Antonyms
  • Example Sentences
  • IPA (International Phonetic Alphabet)
  • Look Up Definitions from the Dictionary App (macOS), in Apps or webpages (macOS & iOS)
  • Translate Non-English Words (must add a bilingual or non-English dictionary)
  • Word Origins

2. Dictionary.com

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Description

Dictionary.com is a comprehensive, feature-rich and well-designed free/premium app that offers compelling features and worthwhile in-app purchases.

Features

  • Acronyms & Abbreviations
  • Audio Pronunciations
  • Autocomplete
  • Definitions, Synonyms & Antonyms
  • English Learner’s Dictionary
  • Favorite Words
  • Grammar Tips
  • IPA (International Phonetic Alphabet)
  • Learner’s Dictionary
  • Local Look-Ups
  • Offline Access
  • Search History
  • Share Sheet
  • Slideshows
  • Voice Search
  • Word Origin
  • Word Trends
  • Word of the Day & Quizzes

In-App Purchases

  • 100 Voice-to-Text Searches $3.99
  • 300 Voice-to-Text-Searches $0.99
  • Encyclopedia $2.99
  • Example Sentences $2.99
  • Grammar & Tips $1.99
  • Medical Dictionary $2.99
  • Power Pack $5.99
  • Remove Ads $1.99
  • Rhyming Dictionary $1.99
  • Translator $0.99

Download for Free

Dictionary.com Pro

Dictionary.com Pro includes all of the features available in the free app and the following:

  • No ads
  • All of the in-app purchases

Download for $2.99 - $4.99



3. Merriam-Webster Dictionary

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Description

Merriam-Webster Dictionary is a comprehensive, feature-rich and well-designed free/premium app, but with fewer features and in-app purchase options than Dictionary.com.

Features

  • Acronyms & Abbreviations
  • Audio Pronunciations
  • Autocomplete
  • Definitions, Synonyms & Antonyms
  • Example Sentences
  • Favorite Words (iCloud Syncing)
  • IPA (International Phonetic Alphabet)
  • Offline Access
  • Quick Definitions
  • Search History
  • Share Sheet
  • Vocabulary-Building Quizzes
  • Voice Search
  • Word Origin
  • Word of the Day

In-App Purchases

  • Remove ads for $1.99 / year

Download for Free

Merriam-Webster Dictionary+

Merriam-Webster Dictionary+ includes all of the features available in the free app and the following:

  • No ads
  • 1,000+ graphical illustrations
  • 20,000+ additional entries for people, places and foreign terms

Download for $3.99

4. Learner's Dictionary - English

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Description

Learner's Dictionary – English from Merriam-Webster is an affordably-priced, feature-rich and visually-appealing premium app.

This dictionary is limited in size and scope compared to the Merriam-Webster Dictionary because it's written specifically for English language learners. While some students feel the app is inferior to the Merriam-Webster Dictionary – the major differences are the straightforward definitions and illustrations.

Features

  • No ads
  • 1,000+ illustrations
  • Acronyms & Abbreviations
  • Audio Pronunciations
  • Autocomplete
  • Count & Noncount Noun Labels
  • Definitions, Synonyms & Antonyms
  • Example Sentences
  • Favorite Words
  • IPA (International Phonetic Alphabet)
  • Idioms, Verbal Collocations & Common Phrases
  • Jump to Definitions
  • Offline Access
  • Search History
  • Share Sheet
  • Voice Search

Download for $4.99

5. The Free Dictionary (Dictionary.)

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Description

The Free Dictionary (Dictionary.) isn't very attractive, but it's incredibly powerful, feature-rich and the multilingual interface and multilingual dictionaries make it a valuable resource for English language learners. Available as a free/premium app.

Features

  • 100+ Dictionaries & Encyclopedias
  • 13 Multilingual Dictionaries
  • Acronyms & Abbreviations
  • Adjust Font Size
  • Advanced Search
  • Animated Idiom Videos
  • Audio Pronunciations
  • Autocomplete
  • Bookmark Words
  • Customize Homepage
  • Definitions, Synonyms & Antonyms
  • Example Sentences
  • Financial Dictionary
  • IPA (International Phonetic Alphabet)
  • Idiom & Slang Dictionary
  • Idiom of the Day
  • Jump to Definitions, Thesaurus or Translations
  • Legal Dictionary
  • Look Up Definitions in Apps or Webpages
  • Medical Dictionary
  • Multilingual Interface (English, Arabic, Chinese, Dutch, French, German, Greek, Italian, Norwegian, Polish, Portuguese, Russian, Simplified Chinese, Spanish, Turkish)
  • Offline Access
  • Save Bookmarks
  • Science Dictionary
  • Search History
  • Share Sheet
  • Translate / Reverse Translate English into 40+ languages
  • Voice Search
  • Word Games
  • Word Origin
  • Word of the Day

In-App Purchases

  • Remove ads for $1.99 / year

Download for Free

Dictionary and Thesaurus Pro

Dictionary and Thesaurus Pro includes all of the features available in The Free Dictionary and the following:

    • No ads
    • A comprehensive offline English dictionary and thesaurus. 
    • Additional offline translation options.
    • Offline dictionaries in 13 other languages. 
    • Offline translations of English into more than 40 languages. 

    Download for $3.99

    6. Urban Dictionary

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    Description

    Urban Dictionary isn't well-designed nor even feature-rich, but it's the official app of the people-powered slang dictionary and a fun way to explore how people are experimenting with language. Available as a free/premium app.

    Features

    • Autocomplete
    • Jump to Definitions
    • Like or Dislike Definitions
    • Share Sheet
    • Slang & Non-Slang Definitions
    • Urban Dictionary Challenge
    • Urban Word of the Day

    Download for Free

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    Wrap Up

    You just learned about my 6 favorite dictionaries for English language learners. If you use any of the aforementioned apps, consider purchasing the premium version to encourage continued development. After all, these dictionaries are inexpensive and worth the investment.

    What's your favorite dictionary app?

    The post My 6 Favorite Dictionary Apps for English Language Learners first appeared on the Culture Gaps Blog by Jeff Shibasaki.