Here is a list of my favorite free online dictionaries for learners of English. These are the English dictionaries that I actually use myself in my day-to-day work here at Better At English, dictionaries that I find truly useful.
Dictionaries for learning English
- Collins English Dictionary
- I’ve been a fan of the Collins Cobuild approach to language reference and teaching materials ever since I started teaching English. Why? Because the Collins materials are all taken from a huge bank of authentic, real English conversations and texts.
On the Collins dictionary main page you can look up words and get translations in many languages. There is also a thesaurus to help you build your vocabulary and find just the right word you are looking for. There are audio examples of many of the words so you can hear the pronunciation. And it’s all free!
- Reverso is an incredibly powerful tool you can use to learn English. The interface is a bit clumsy, and you need to spend some time exploring the site to learn what happens when you click the different links. But it is WELL worth it.
You can get definitions and example sentences of English words and phrases. Reverso does translation too, currently between Dutch, English, French, Spanish, German, Italian, Russian, Portuguese, Chinese, Arabic, Hebrew, and Japanese.
I have found the translation feature is a great help when I’m preparing to meet my teacher on italki for my speaking practice lessons. It makes it easy to look up words and phrases that I think I will need for the lesson, so I can feel prepared. And if I get stuck while speaking because I don’t know a word, I can quickly look it up and keep talking.
Another super useful feature is the “context” page. You can enter a word or phrase and see many example sentences with it in context. Even better, the examples are translated for you too. This is extremely useful if, for example, you are trying to get the feel for a phrasal verb in English.
- Foboko example sentence dictionary
- When you are learning new words, it’s helpful to see many example sentences of the word to put it into some kind of context. Foboko lets you type in a word and see many example sentences. It even has informal words and slang. You don’t get definitions or explanations of the word, but if you are looking for example sentences it’s a great place to check.
- Free Online English Collocation Dictionary
- Collocations are word combinations that tend to occur together. Using common collocations helps your English sound more natural. You can look up words and see their common collocations on the free Ozdic.com site.
- Cambridge Dictionary Index
- This is a list of the useful Cambridge dictionaries available for free online. There are many of them linked to from the Cambridge Dictionary homepage, including American English, British English, a Learner’s dictionary, and several bi-lingual dictinaries. I really like their word of the day feature as well.
- Here is the direct link to the Cambridge Learner’s Dictionary,
- my favorite English learner’s dictionary. The language is simplified for intermediate level learners. You can search for idioms and phrasal verbs too. Just type the phrasal verb or idiom in the search box and the results pop right up for you.
- Oxford Learner’s dictionaries online.
- Features: British and American English, synonyms, grammar, and many other resources. You can click to hear the pronunciation of words too.
- Longman dictionary of contemporary English online.
- Features: British and American English, collocations, phrases, and a wealth of other useful information. There are also clickable pronunciation links so you can hear what the words sound like.