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Bilingual dictionaries

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A bilingual dictionary or translation dictionary is a specialized dictionary used to translate words or phrases from one language to another. Bilingual dictionaries can be unidirectional, meaning that they list the meanings of words of one language in another, or can be bidirectional, allowing translation to and from both languages. Bidirectional bilingual dictionaries usually consist of two sections, each listing words and phrases of one language alphabetically along with their translation. In addition to the translation, a bilingual dictionary usually indicates the part of speech, gender, verb type, declension model and other grammatical clues to help a non-native speaker use the word. Other features sometimes present in bilingual dictionaries are lists of phrases, usage and style guides, verb tables, maps and grammar references. In contrast to the bilingual dictionary, a monolingual dictionary defines words and phrases instead of translating them.


Bilingual dictionaries are available for nearly every combination of popular languages. They also often exist between language pairs where one language is popular and the other isn’t. Bilingual dictionaries between two uncommon languages are not likely to exist.

Multilingual dictionaries

Multilingual dictionaries are closely related to bilingual dictionaries. In a multilingual dictionary, you look up a word or phrase in one language and are presented with the translation in several languages. Multilingual dictionaries can by arranged alphabetically or words can be grouped by topic. When grouped by topic, it is common for a multilingual dictionary to be illustrated.


There are many publishers and manufacturers of both printed and electronic bilingual dictionaries. For example:

Franklin Electronic Publishers


Sample bilingual dictionaries online

  • Freedict.org Large number of XML and Dict format bilingual dictionaries, released under the GPL
  • LEO Wörterbuch German <-> English / German <-> French / German <-> Spanish / German <-> Italian / German <-> Chinese
  • DICT.TW Dictionary English <-> Chinese
  • Tomisimo Spanish <-> English

This guide is licensed under the GNU Free Documentation License. It uses material from the Wikipedia.

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