When I was younger, I had a goal to try to learn one new word per day. I like discovering new ways to describe things and having a full list of vocabulary words in my arsenal doesn’t hurt my writing practices. I don’t look up new words as much anymore, but I do grab my thesaurus off the shelf fairly often.
If you like learning new words, need a way to describe something without repeating yourself, or just want to fill your head with knowledge, we’ve got a list of what we think are the best dictionary apps for you.
Even though dictionaries traditionally include a phonetic spelling for words so you can pronounce them properly, there are always a few that are just too hard to figure out and if you don’t pronounce them right, you’ll sound dumber than if you never said the word at all. This app includes professionally recorded pronunciations for all words so you’ll be sure to get it right. This app is available for $1.99.
Dictionary.com is probably my most-used web-based dictionary. It has more than two million definitions, synonyms, and antonyms with pronunciations and “word of the day” content. The app also allows for offline access, and 35,000 medical words and 23,000 scientific words are available for a premium upgrade. It also features a word translator for more than 30 different languages. This app is available for $3.99.
Why use the word “stupid” when you could impress your friends with something like “dim-witted” instead? I love changing up my daily language with more interesting words. This app features 40,000 words with approximately 400,000 synonyms and antonyms to choose from. The comprehensive search engine will even help you spell words correctly and offer suggestions for another you may have meant to look up instead. This app is available for $4.99.
One of the reasons I stopped trying to learn a new word every day was that I’d always forget the word or its meaning. If you don’t use new words all of the time, you tend to forget them. This app lets you lock those new words into a vault for your memory’s safe keeping. Look up new words and save them for later with the vocabulary review system. Even if you forget the meaning of a word, this pop quiz will help you retain the information. This app is available for $4.99.
The M-W is my main source for word knowledge. I started using the popular dictionary and thesaurus paperback books while I was in college and I haven’t looked back since. The app features voice search, so you don’t even have to try to spell a word. It also includes Quick Definitions, Word of the Day, Favorites, and more. The premium upgrade includes more than 1,000 graphic illustrations and 20,000 additional entries. This app is available for $3.99.
Just because you speak the same language, doesn’t mean you understand everything that someone says. In the U.S. alone, we hear different meanings for word from state to state. For example, some call it “soda” and some call it “pop.” This app helps you understand different colloquialisms so you can make sense of terms like “queuing up” and talking on a “mobile.” You can even find translations for proverbs like, “Don’t throw the baby out with the bath water.” This app is available for $2.99.
This might be the most comprehensive iOS dictionary and thesaurus app around. It includes 4.9 million words and more than a quarter of a million relations. It features audio pronunciation with American, British, and Australian accents. There are biographical and geographical references, as well as scientific and technical terms. Use the word shake feature to look up random entries. View sample sentences to see how words are used in everyday language. This app is available for $1.99.
Other useful dictionaries:
- Rhyme Zone
- Black’s Law Dictionary, 10th Edition
- Oxford Advanced Learner’s Dictionary
- Longman Advanced American Dictionary
- WordWeb Dictionary
- Cambridge Advanced Learner’s and English Pronouncing Dictionary
A previous version of this post was written by Lory Gil.