May 01, 2023

best english dictionaries

I reviewed various sources like Reddit discussions, websites like ResearchGate, Goodreads, and Oxford Learner's Dictionaries, and considered the opinions of learners, teachers, and native speakers. There was a good amount of consensus on some of the best English dictionaries for different needs. However, personal preferences and specific requirements may lead to different recommendations for different users.




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Oxford Advanced Learner's Dictionary

Oxford Advanced Learner's Dictionary

The Oxford Advanced Learner's Dictionary (OALD) is highly recommended by many people, including non-native English speakers and teachers. It's considered the world's bestselling advanced-level dictionary for learners of English, used by over 100 million learners since 1948. It's available in both print and online versions, with the online version offering extra resources and practice tools. The OALD can be found on Amazon and even preloaded on some Kindle devices.
Cambridge Advanced Learner's Dictionary

Etymology and History

For those interested in the etymology and history of words, the Oxford English Dictionary (OED) is the best comprehensive English dictionary. The Shorter Oxford English Dictionary (two volumes) is an excellent alternative for physical copies.

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Source: "Oxford Advanced Learner's Dictionary | Dictiona..." (from web,

  • Oxford Advanced Learner’s Dictionary
    • A world bestseller for learners and teachers of English
    • Over 1,000 new words and meanings
    • Fully revised A-Z with up-to-date example sentences
    • Oxford 3000 and Oxford 5000 keywords, graded by level
    • Visual Vocabulary Builder including new illustrations for topic vocabulary
    • 90 Homophones notes help distinguish words that sound the same
    • Online topic dictionaries fully revised and graded by level
    • OPAL (Oxford Phrasal Academic Lexicon) word lists teach academic keywords
    • Oxford Speaking Tutor and iSpeaker with pronunciation videos and additional material online
    • Oxford Writing Tutor including a NEW section on letters and emails and a NEW spread on Writing an article
    • Online iWriter to plan, write and review written work
    • Listen to all the headwords, variants and verb forms in both British and American English accents online or on the app
    • Listen to example sentences in both British and American English accents on the app
    • Updated Oxford Text Checker – go online to check any text against the Oxford 3000, 5000, and OPAL written word lists
    • Online teacher resources including lesson plans, video walkthroughs, and classroom and self-study activities
  • Oxford 3000 word list provides an essential core vocabulary for learners of English graded by CEFR level, and every Oxford 3000 word in the dictionary is clearly marked with a key symbol
  • The Oxford 3000 is the core vocabulary you need up to B2 level (upper intermediate), and the Oxford 5000 adds an extra 2,000 words to take your vocabulary to a higher level (B2 to C1, or upper intermediate to advanced)
  • The dictionary also highlights vocabulary from OPAL (Oxford Phrasal Academic Lexicon) to help you learn essential vocabulary for academic writing and speaking

Source: "Can you recommend a comprehensive English dicti..." (from reddit, r/etymology)

  • The best comprehensive English dictionary for etymology and history of each word is the Oxford English Dictionary (OED).
    • The OED is available online for a monthly subscription cost, and the complete set is likely several volumes printed.
    • The first edition (“A New English Dictionary on Historical Principles”) is available free online to anyone.
    • The Shorter Oxford English Dictionary (two volumes) is an excellent alternative for physical copies.
  • Other sources with etymological information on English include:
    • Etymonline
    • Wiktionary (though its information is unreliable, so it’s better to verify elsewhere)
  • Eric Partridge’s “Origins” is a rare book of etymology that groups words into one word with the same origin.
  • None

Source: "Oxford Advanced Learner's Dictionary at Oxford ..." (from web,

  • The Oxford Advanced Learner’s Dictionary is the world’s bestselling advanced-level dictionary for learners of English
    • Has been used by over 100 million English language learners since 1948
  • Now in its tenth edition
  • Created especially for learners of English, with clear and simple definitions, synonyms, real voice audio, and example sentences showing language in use
  • The A-Z is integrated with the new Oxford 3000 and Oxford 5000 word lists
    • Provides core vocabulary that every student needs to learn
    • Contains OPAL word lists, which contain the most important vocabulary for academic writing and speaking
  • More than just a dictionary
    • OALD Premium package includes extra resources and practice
      • iSpeaker and iWriter improve pronunciation, speaking skills, and writing in English
      • My Word Lists feature allows creating and testing lists of words to learn
    • Offers various resources for teachers to use in the classroom
    • An app version of the dictionary is available for offline use

Source: "Which dictionary do I buy? And what is differen..." (from reddit, r/EnglishLearning)

  • There are multiple dictionaries published by Merriam-Webster and Oxford University Press
    • Merriam-Webster publishes 32 English-language dictionaries
    • Oxford University Press publishes 87
  • All publishers have good online editions of their dictionaries
    • Online dictionaries are free and convenient
    • Paper dictionaries can be faster to use and do not require electricity or internet access
  • Learner’s dictionaries are best for people learning English as a second or foreign language
    • Learner’s dictionaries have a restricted vocabulary and more usage notes
    • Most dictionaries are aimed at native speakers
  • Popular learner’s dictionaries
    • Longman Dictionary of Contemporary English
    • Oxford Advanced Learner’s Dictionary
    • Macmillan English Dictionary for Advanced Learners
    • Collins COBUILD
    • Cambridge Advanced Learner’s Dictionary
    • Merriam-Webster’s Advanced Learner’s English Dictionary
  • Many of the dictionaries listed have free online versions
  • There is no significant difference between the dictionaries for someone learning English

Source: "What do you think about Oxford Advanced Learner..." (from reddit, r/EnglishLearning)

  • The Oxford Advanced Learner’s Dictionary (OALD) is recommended for expanding vocabulary for the CAE exam
    • Teacher advised buying OALD
  • OALD is considered an excellent resource
  • OALD is available for free online
  • None

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What are the key differences between American Standard and British English Standard?

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What other resources are available for learning English?

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What are the characteristics of Webster's dictionary that make it suitable for slang and modern usage?

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What historical texts and specialized vocabulary does the OED Online include?

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What are the key features of the Oxford Advanced Learner's Dictionary?

Source: "Best English - English dictionary?" (from reddit, r/kindle)

  • Reddit post on best English-English dictionary for Kindle
    • User looking for a better dictionary as a non-native English speaker
    • Another user recommends the Oxford Advanced Learner Dictionary as the BEST dictionary
      • Recently found a version that works on Kindle
      • User asks where to find the Kindle version
        • Can find it on the Content and Devices page on Amazon under Dictionaries and User Guides
        • Might already have an Advanced Learner’s Dictionary, just need to send it to Kindle
        • Can buy the Oxford Advanced Learner’s Dictionary on Amazon
    • Another user suggests checking the Wikipedia section
  • Total words used: 84 words

Source: "Best Dictionaries of the English Language (93 b..." (from web,


Source: "Most comprehensive English dictionary online" (from reddit, r/EnglishLearning)

  • Recommended online English dictionaries:
    • For learners:
      • OneLook: links you to different dictionaries
      • Oxford OALD
      • Macmillan
      • Cambridge CALD
      • Longman
      • Merriam-Webster MWLD (for American usage)
      • Collins COBUILD (popular, but with confusing material)
    • General purpose:
      • Lexico: reliable for British usage
      • Cambridge: reliable for British usage
      • Merriam-Webster: reliable for American usage
      • American Heritage Dictionary: more linguistically conservative than MW
    • Historical texts:
      • Oxford English Dictionary: attempts to catalog all meanings of all words ever used in the English language
  • Specialized vocabulary:
    • Specialized fields, like medical terminology, require specialized dictionaries or lexica, such as:
      • Merriam-Webster Medical Dictionary
      • Black’s Law Dictionary
  • Other resources:
    • includes dictionary, translations, thesaurus, and forums
    • Cambridge Dictionary and Collins Dictionary websites: search multiple dictionaries at once

Source: "What is the Best English Dictionary to buy?" (from reddit, r/books)

  • Reddit thread on “best English dictionary to buy”
    • Recommendations vary based on preference for American Standard or British English Standard
      • Oxford English leans toward British English
      • Webster’s leans toward American Standard and includes slang and colloquialisms
    • Recommendations:
      • OED online
      • Oxford Advanced Learner’s Dictionary (recommended by an English teacher)
      • Webster’s for including slang and modern usage of old words
      • Collegiate dictionaries for everyday use; Oxford English Dictionary for etymology and history
      • Collins Dictionary software edition or hardback Oxford Dictionary of English for in-depth queries
    • Additional resources:
      • Google: define:<word>; aggregates definitions from multiple dictionaries
      • Android app: ColorDict; aggregates Wikipedia and standard dictionaries

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What are the best English dictionaries?