iPhone Dictionary App Roundup


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 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 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?


Godo Stoyke

Among inexpensive dictionaries I like “AED” (Advanced English Dictionary & Thesaurus). It is only 99 cents, and has an awesome thesaurus.

For true hypergraphists (look it up), there is the 300,000 word, $24.95 American Heritage Dictionary – 4th edition, and the ultimate impecuniator (don’t look it up), the $59.99 Webster’s Third New International Dictionary (need we say it?), “unabridged”.

Ori Regev

For a somewhat different angle, you might wanna try WordGlide. It’s an English vocabulary self-learning app: http://www.wordglide.com

It’s a bit like a Word of the Day screen-saver, but contains a built-in dictionary of more than 150,000 words, audio pronunciation, favorite words list, etc

[ Full disclosure: I wrote it :) ]

Trond Trosterud

Buying etc. existing dictionaries is nice for the lgs already out there, but I want to add my own language pair! So, what freely available (at least in the open source meaning of the word) is there to let me port my dictionary to the iPhone/iPod?


Dictionary with audio for iphone? Google Dictionary have audio but in iphone dont play!

Alvaro Ramirez

Hi guys,

We’ve released a new reference/dictionary application up on the AppStore. It’s called LexLook!

We’ve gotten pretty good feedback so far. People seem to like it. By default, it comes with an extensive english dictionary. One unique feature we have is the ability to add/share references by all it’s users. For example, you have some recipes you would like to have handy. You can add these to LexLook! If you wish, you can share it with others. Alternatively, you can download references other people have uploaded.

All content is available for offline searching. You may also choose a result and email it to someone else.

At the moment, our application is free. We haven’t quite decided how we are going to go about it just yet. We are currently learning from our users. We’d love to hear your feedback.




There really needs to be some sort of Zaggat guide for apps. A site that clearly rates categories like, “speed” “price” “word count” because right now I have to take all these reviews and make my own chart and all it’s “that vs. this”.


Hello People,
I am a man of both answers and questions.
First . . . to c.Libre . . . check out this article in Slate magazine. http://www.slate.com/id/2091949/
This is the best article I’ve seen comparing various dictionaries.
Secondly . . . I want to know which app has also synonyms/antonyms and homonyms. I think this is valuable.
I think the best app would have these features, provide quick lookup with just a few letters typed, and cross reference to other words in the definition. Which comes closest to this?
Also, does anyone have a suggestion on this idea. Voice lookup of words? Can it be done? Will it be done? Maybe using Jott and google perhaps? Any ideas people?
My last comment has to do with the price on some of these apps. I think the Merriam-Webster people are the Metallica of the dictionary business. I would pay the money if it incorporated all the features I had mentioned, however.
If these companies continue to charge outrageous fees for their app, then I will have to be content with just going through life lacking a rich vocabulary and speaking in grunts and groans. Do you wordsmiths aggggggggggg wit me?


definitely looking for voice lookup of words!!! have dyslexic son who cannot spell, any app out there have this???

paul robinson

Thanks for the roundup!

The Mac OS X dictionary is the New Oxford American Dictionary, one of the best on the market– clearly written, up to date, comprehensive. It’s coming soon to the iPhone and iPod Touch. See http://www.handmark.com/iphone/index.php They’re saying only $10! One can also buy the hardback version of the dictionary with CD with mobile device versions for $36… but that was last year, I don’t know if they’re going to start including an IP and IPT version with the hard copy. That’s the cool way to go- best of both worlds! More publishers should do that.

Last year, I sprung for the $25 for the MW unabridged dictionary for my Palm– that’s worth it for a FULL UNABRIDGED one, especially compared to the whopping and outrageous $60 they’re charging for the IP and IPT version! (There also seems to be no upgrade or cross-grade path either!)

Does anyone know if the 1909 unabridged MW is available? It’s a freebie on the Mac, included in the wonderful M:Dict. Great for looking up obscure vintage words while reading old public domain novels from the late 19th and early 20th century.


@c.libre: Thanks for the constructive criticism. Unfortunately, I haven’t won the lottery (yet) and can’t afford every dictionary app – especially when they’re priced at up to $30 each. It would make things easier of course if the App Store allowed trial versions :)

lol :D
Try http://www.appulo.us
It’s an amazing website which gives you extended trial periods for all paid App Store apps. This tutorial [http://iphone.cazisoft.com/?p=285] guides you on how to get your iPhone to work with .ipa files. Unfortunately, your iPhone has to be jailbroken first. But ’tis worth it! I would’ve wasted lotsa moolah on apps which don’t work, crash my phone, or are just plain crAppware…
(Btw, I’m not affiliated with any of the above links.)


I liked your comparison, easy and fast. Was very useful to me. Thankyou!


The dictionary you mentioned don’t have pronunciation (required for a dictionary). And it is expensive.
Just grabed Wordbook version 2.0, quite amazing dictionary with pronunciation, etymology, thesaurus link and web dictionary included. What I love is the feature to look up any word in the definition.

Jason Guthrie

@c.libre: Thanks for the constructive criticism. Unfortunately, I haven’t won the lottery (yet) and can’t afford every dictionary app – especially when they’re priced at up to $30 each. It would make things easier of course if the App Store allowed trial versions :)


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.


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?


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

David Barwick

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


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


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


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


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…


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

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