Dictionaries come in many sizes and kinds. Small dictionaries are called pocket or compact, larger dictionaries are often called shorter and very large dictionaries are often called greater.

Small dictionaries are useful for finding everyday spellings and meanings.

Some dictionaries have pictures to show the meanings of words. They are good for checking words that can be confusing:-

horse n a four-legged animal with hooves ....
hoarse adj. of the voice, rough or croaking. 


In a dictionary after the word they tell you what kind of word it is in italics:-

adj. adjective
adv. adverb
conj. conjunction
interj. interjection
n noun
prep. preposition
pron. pronoun
vb verb


Our advice is that as a beginner you might want a bi-lingual dictionary, but once you reach a certain level of proficiency you should use a monolingual dictionary, and only revert to the bilingual one if you really don't understand something.

If you are studying a particular subject in English it might be worth investing in a specialist dictionary. There are lots of specialist and technical dictionaries: dictionaries for law, accounting, business, computing etc.

Get the most out of your dictionary by understanding how to use it correctly. You can use a good English dictionary to find words, for meaning, for pronunciation, to check your spelling, to discover multiple meanings, and to better understand explanations.

Of course there are some fabulous dictionaries online nowadays. Use what is IMHO the best online dictionary for learners.

The Cambridge Learner's Dictionary Online

Some other free online dictionaries we can recommend are:-

The Free Dictionary
Merriam Webster (with a double r - thanks Hekner)