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Summary:

Recently, Merriam-Webster announced that the Collegiate Dictionary was available for the iPhone and iPod touch, and since then I’ve wanted to explore what kind of dictionary options were out there. After all, everyone needs a dictionary right? The Collegiate Dictionary, although not glamorous in its function, […]

Recently, Merriam-Webster announced that the Collegiate Dictionary was available for the iPhone and iPod touch, and since then I’ve wanted to explore what kind of dictionary options were out there. After all, everyone needs a dictionary right?

The Collegiate Dictionary, although not glamorous in its function, boasts over 225,000 entries, a history of the last 15 searches, and links between entries. Since the app works offline with only a “minimal amount” of memory, I ran to the iTunes App Store to download it — only to have a small heart attack at the $24.99 price tag (ok, maybe just a heart murmur).

Merriam-Webster iPhone App

So if you’re a poor college student, struggling journalist, or a lost crossword puzzler, you may want to try a few other options out there for getting those precious definitions. I’ve brought a few of my favorites together for you.

WordBook

WordBook by TranCreative Software is another iTunes App Store offering. Weighing in at only 150,000 entries this app contains the standard dictionary functions plus a crossword and anagram solver and thesaurus all for $7.99.

WordBook Dictionary iPhone App

TouchDictionary

TouchDictionary is exactly what is sounds like — an online dictionary for the iPhone and iPod touch. This web app also includes links to translate your word into German, French, Italian, and Spanish.

Webster’s New World Dictionary

If you insist on only the “big name” brands then Webster’s New World Dictionary is another option. As the “official dictionary of the Associate Press” the dictionary has over 163,000 entries, 12,000 Americanisms, and fast lookup using only the first few letters of a word. At 10MB this little app will set you back $14.99.

Webster's New World Dictionary

Reference: Dictionary, Thesaurus, and Encyclopedia

If you want the look of an App but don’t mind being tied to the Web then Reference: Dictionary, Thesaurus, and Encyclopedia is for you. Cost: $0.99.

English Dictionary & Thesaurus

Probably the best alternative to Merriam-Webster’s dictionary app is the English Dictionary & Thesaurus by WordWeb. This app works offline as well and rivals the Merriam-Webster dictionary with 222,000 words, bookmark and history support, and support for different English language regions (American, British, Canadian, and Australian). Cost: $4.99.

WordWeb's English Dictionary

TIP iPhone Dictionary

The TIP iPhone Dictionary, by Two Peas Consulting, offers a very unique dictionary on the Web. The simple (read: fast on EDGE) online dictionary offers a “Round-Robin-Search” where every word in the definition is a link to yet another definition. If you don’t understand a word in a definition then just tap to bring up the definition of that word.

As you can see, there are plenty of alternatives to a high-priced dictionary app. And until Apple ports Dictionary to the iPhone and iPod touch, the hardest choice is going to be which one to use first!

What dictionary app do you use on your iPhone/iPod touch?

  1. I’ve been surprised that there isn’t a dictionary app out there that 1) is stored locally so I don’t have to have a net connection and 2) cheap. I’m not sure why Apple doesn’t just put the quite good Dictionary.app from OS X on the iPhone for free…

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    1. there is actually… it’s dictionary.com- dicitonary and thesaurus.. great app

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  2. There’s also the American Heritage Dictionary, which besides costing $29.99, it’s also a whopping 309MB. I’d probably get it, if I had the money or space on my iPod.

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  3. I use the Dictionary in google and made a web-app from it that’s mounted on my iPhone.

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    1. Can you let me know how to do an app as u said regarding google dic for iphone?
      Thanks!!

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  4. wedict. 149,000 words, works offline and FREE. Also has English/Chinese dictionary.

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  5. @ben9876: You failed to mention it requires you to jailbreak your iPhone.

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  6. Josh-I have Wedict on my non-jailbroken iPhone, which I downloaded from the App store.

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  7. @Josh Pigford: You would be mistaken. WeDict is available through the App Store.

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  8. funny this should come up, I was bored at work and decided to look into dictionary apps for my iphone. there seem to be a few to choose from as you point out, but I certainly couldn’t make good use one costing $30.

    what i’d like is one with a built in thesaurus as well, and hopefully cost less than $5. suggestions?

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  9. @David, @Tim: I stand corrected. :)

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  10. This is the only comparative review of iPhone dictionary apps that I’ve found so far, and I hope you don’t mind some constructive criticism; it would be very helpful if these reviews could be expanded to add information that isn’t readily available already in each app’s description in the App Store.

    Instead of merely comparing dictionaries by features and quantity of entries, what about the quality of content? Make a test suite of common, tricky, and obscure words, and tell us how each dictionary’s definitions stack up against the others. What can you tell us about the character of content? Does a dictionary include many neologisms or archaisms — which dictionary will help you read Shakespeare, and which will help you through, say, Junot Diaz? Does it include encyclopedia-like entries on places and people? Does the dictionary include usage notes on difficult or commonly misused words?

    Finally, the American Heritage Dictionary should be added to the list of dictionary apps. Like Merriam-Webster, this is a top-notch dictionary of American English.

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