If you’ve ever held a physical dictionary in your hands, you know how big and heavy it can be. With the modern marvel of smartphones, all those words and definitions that fill the pages of a physical dictionary are accessible anytime, anywhere.
As you’d expect, dictionary apps tell you a lot about a single word, like what it means, where it came from, and how to use it or pronounce it correctly. But many of these apps also contain a thesaurus, as well as fun word games to expand your vocabulary. Moreover, some can even be used offline. Let’s take a look at the best dictionary apps for iOS and Android.
1. Merriam Webster
The Merriam-Webster Dictionary app has a clean user interface with a nice blue background. On the home screen, you’ll see the easy-to-access search bar, word of the day, and a category of word games to browse. There’s also a handy microphone in the top right corner in case you don’t know how to spell a word you want the definition of.
When you search for a word, you’ll see all of its possible definitions, along with other useful information such as its part of speech, pronunciation, examples, first known use, and the history and etymology of the word. On each word’s dictionary entry, you’ll see some synonyms and antonyms, but you can also quickly access the thesaurus for more ideas.
The three word games you can play make you smarter include How strong is your vocabulary?, True or False, and Name That Thing. You should start on the light difficulty for each game, then when you earn enough points you can try one of the harder difficulties.
This useful app from Dictionary.com shows you a single word of the day on the home screen, which you can tap to see the definition and usage examples. You can also browse past words that have earned history as Word of the Day.
Scrolling down, you’ll see the Word Games section, where you can complete a word puzzle and take a vocabulary quiz to test your knowledge. The Dictionary.com app also displays trending words, linguistics articles, and other fun language-related content, as well as the synonym of the day.
One of the coolest features of the app is the ability to randomly discover a word, so you can learn new words you might never have met otherwise.
3. The Free Dictionary
The free dictionary’s user interface leaves something to be desired, but there’s a lot of useful content on one screen. Along with the classic word of the day sections that many dictionary apps have, there’s also a daily idiom, article, quote, holiday, famous birthday, and historical event.
Then there are quite a few unique games to play. With WordHub, you are given certain letters and the number of possible words, and you earn points for each word you create. The Hangman game follows the same rules as the classic classroom game, and the Spelling Bee game lets you listen to a word, see its definition, and then try to guess its spelling.
There are also matching activities, where you match the word in one column to its synonym or antonym in the other column. The only in-app purchase in this particular app is to remove ads for $1.99, but there’s also a separate Dictionary Pro app with no ads and more offline content.
4. Oxford Dictionary of English
The Oxford Dictionary of English is such a classic option when it comes to looking up something on the web or in a physical book. On the home screen of this dictionary app, you will see the Word of the Day section at the top and you can easily tap the left arrow in the box to view the past words.
You can enable the Oxford Dictionary app to appear on top of other apps, so you can always look up a word you don’t know the meaning of, no matter what app you’re in. Although there is a lot of content to access in the free version of this app, the ads can be a bit annoying. But to access content offline and ad-free, you have to pay an annual subscription of $19.99.
5. WordWeb Dictionary
If you’re looking for a no-frills dictionary app, this one from WordWeb is perfect for you. There are no ads and the app is completely free. When you first open the app, it launches straight into the search menu, with the last word you searched highlighted in the search bar.
Searching for a word gives you several possible definitions, as well as its part of speech, different participles, and other related words or phrases. You can mark interesting words, phrases or abbreviations that you come across.
There are also advanced search tools that allow you to search specifically for a noun, verb, or any other part of speech, as well as construct a word using special characters. For example, a question mark symbol represents “any letter”, while a pound sign represents “a consonant”.
6. Scholarly Dictionary
The learned dictionary is one of best benchmark apps to search for words as well as translations if you are in a foreign country. When you open the app, you’ll always see a single word at the top with its definition below. If you close the application and then reopen it, you will see a new word; So you can easily learn more than one new word per day.
Or, you can just tap the search bar to find a word you want to learn more about. You can bookmark interesting or thought-provoking words to look at later. Tap the Translator box on the home screen to open a quick translator that allows you to easily change input and output languages and get your message across in an instant.
Have fun learning new words
While there are apps and websites that specifically focus on sending a new word every day, most dictionary apps have this feature as well. So you can keep learning new words, while sharpening your mind with puns and looking up the definition of any word at any time.