Free Online English Dictionaries

Check the meaning of words/phrases in these web-based dictionaries

Free Online English Dictionaries

This page lists free searchable online English dictionaries that you can use to locate the meaning of English words and phrases. Some of the dictionaries also list variant UK and UK spelling, phonetic transcriptions (from which you can learn how to pronounce the word), audio clips with the word pronounced that you can play, example sentences using that particular word or phrase, and so on.

Note that I know that there are many free dictionary sites on the Internet. However, I only list the sites of reliable, known English dictionary publishers who also allow Internet users to search their dictionaries online for free. Please do not send me links to some third party site that scrape content from the major dictionary publishers. I don't want such sites polluting this page. Nor do I want to list unknown dictionary sites that have created their own definitions.

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Free Online English Dictionaries

Cambridge Dictionaries Online

Cambridge Dictionaries Online allow you to search through two dictionaries, namely the Cambridge Advanced Learner's Dictionary and the Cambridge Learner's Dictionary. The default dictionary provides phonetic transcriptions (specifically, phonemic transcriptions) and playable audio pronunciations (both UK and US versions) for the words you search as well, so it can be useful if you need to check the pronunciation of words. Variant spellings, such as the different US and UK spelling of some words, are also clearly marked in the dictionary entries. Examples for each headword are also given.

Oxford Advanced Learner's Dictionaries

This is a searchable interface to the Oxford Advanced Learner's Dictionary. In spite of its name, the dictionary has definitions for a very large number of British and American words and phrases. It has phonetic (specifically, phonemic) transcriptions for every word as well as example sentences. Variant spelling, as well as differences in the way a word is used in British English and American English, is also noted.

Longman Dictionary of Contemporary English Online

This site allows you to search through the Longman Dictionary of Contemporary English. The dictionary entries provide examples and phonetic (specifically, phonemic) transcriptions for selected headwords, as well as variant British and American English spelling.

Oxford Dictionaries Online

You can search the Oxford Dictionaries Online site for definitions of English words and their pronunciations (in the form of phonemic transcriptions). Both the UK and US spelling of the words are given, and some set phrases using those words (if any) are provided. Some of the entries also provide etymological information. I'm not sure which of the printed Oxford dictionaries the online version uses. Note that you can select the default English spelling you want by clicking either the "US English" or "World English" link at the top of the page.

Merriam-Webster Online: Dictionary and Thesaurus

The Merriam-Webster Dictionary, Thesaurus, Spanish-English Dictionary and Medical Dictionary can be searched online via this site's interface. Although variant spelling is noted, the dictionary does not clearly state which spelling is US and which UK. You can however assume that all headwords are given in US spelling and any variant that they mention as the UK spelling. Phonetic transcriptions (specifically, phonemic transcriptions) are given for each word, along with a playable audio pronunciation.

Search Chambers Dictionary

The online Chambers Dictionary lets you search through 3 dictionaries, the older editions of the Chambers Dictionary, the Chambers Thesaurus and the Chambers Biographical Dictionary. (The current versions are not searchable via the online interface.) The entry for each word gives its definition(s), the variant UK and US spelling, and even its etymology (history/origin).

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