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English Dictionaries

What Kind Of Dictionary Do You Need?

There are lots of different kinds of dictionaries to choose from.

The two most common dicationaries are bilingual and monolingual, but there are more and before you buy one or two it's useful to know how they differ:-

Bilingual Dictionaries

A bilingual dictionary can be used to translate words or phrases from one language to another. They usually consist of two sections, each listing words and phrases of one language alphabetically along with their translation. In addition to the translation, a bilingual dictionary usually indicates the part of speech, and grammar clues to help a non-native speaker use the word.

Monolingual Dictionaries

A monolingual dictionary defines words and phrases in one language instead of translating them. They are usually listed alphabetically, with definitions, etymologies, pronunciation, and other information. Some monolingual dictionaries are written specifically for the language learner.

Specialized dictionaries

Some dictionaries concentrate on specific subject fields, such as medicine, law, accounting etc.

Pocket Dictionaries

A pocket dictionary is a dictionary that is small enough to carry in your pocket, but because of the size, the number of words and length of description are restricted.

Visual Dictionaries

Visual dictionaries primarily use pictures to illustrate the meaning of words. They are often organized by themes, instead of being an alphabetical list of words. For each theme, an image is labeled with the correct word to identify each component of the item in question. They can be monolingual or multilingual, providing the names of items in several languages.

Etymological Dictionaries

An etymological dictionary discusses the history of the words listed.

Crossword Dictionaries

A crossword dictionary is designed to be used to help to solve crosswords or other word puzzles. Words are grouped together by the number of letters in the word.

Rhyming Dictionaries

A rhyming dictionary is a specialist dictionary designed for use in writing poetry and lyrics. In a rhyming dictionary, words are categorized into equivalence classes that consist of words which rhyme with one another. They will also typically support several different kinds of rhymes, and possibly also alliteration as well. 

Scrabble Dicationaries

A scrabble dictionary is designed to be used with the board game Scrabble. Words are listed alphabetically, along with varient spellings, and often no description is given. Interestingly only two to eight letter words are included.


A thesaurus is a book in which words with similar meanings are grouped together, it shows synonyms and related concepts for individual words, and sometimes antonyms.

Online Dictionaries