Which German Dictionaries are Good for Learners: Books, Websites, and Apps


Learning how to use a German-English dictionary effectively is one of the single skills which can really help support you in your German learning adventure.

German learners frequently ask: Which German-English dictionary should I buy? Is it worth buying the big one? How do I know which dictionary will be right for me? Are the online German dictionaries better?

In this blog post/podcast episode, I'll guide you step-by-step through which dictionary you can/should use as a beginner through the elementary level, both physical books and online options, and you'll learn when you need to decide to use a German-German dictionary written specifically for learners.

We'll cover a variety, so you can decide which dictionary is best for you.

And we'll even cover a very specialized dictionary for those of you who need to learn Schwiezerdütsch (Swiss German). I use it with my clients in Switzerland and it has been invaluable thus far.

N.B. for my clients: This information is part of the "Ressourcen" course in the Client Portal.

Disclosure: This blog post contains affiliate links to various sites, which means that if you click through these links and purchase anything, you will anonymously support GermanWithNicole.com at the same time as you support the other business(es). (You'll see the words "Affiliate link" where there is such a link.) You can read more about it here. Danke!

German Dictionaries for A1-A2 Learners (Beginners - late Elementary Learners)

Physical Dictionaries

I've recommended these dictionaries to learners for years, basically since I began teaching German as a Foreign Language, and my students and clients have really enjoyed using them. They're a smaller size, have plenty of information, and will be a great investment for you for a long period of time.

Langenscheidt ISBN 978-1439141663

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Langenscheidt Standard Dictionary ISBN 978-3468980466


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Online/Digital Dictionaries

Collins English-German Dictionary

This is what I recommend people start with. The Collins English-German/German-English dictionary is easy to use, there are (usually) audios you can play to help you learn the word, and the main meaning of the words is available in red.


LEO [le:o] is the dictionary I've used for the past 20 years.

It's available as a website and as an app.

There are many meaning available, verb charts, and the forum often has helpful translations. (Still take them with a grain of salt.)


Dict.cc is very popular with translators, and often I can find idioms and expressions there that aren't listed elsewhere.

It's available as a website and as an app.

PONS - ♥

Langenscheidt online dictionary

The Free Dictionary - I use this dictionary frequently for idioms and new words in English. It has a great thesaurus.

German Dictionaries for B1 Learners (Intermediate-level learners) and up (B2, C1, C2)

Physical Dictionary

Basiswörterbuch Deutsch als Fremdsprache ISBN 978-3-411-04154-1 Affiliate link

(Sorry, no photo available of this one.)

Full disclosure I received my copy of this book because I won it and I'm really happy about that, because it's a wonderful dictionary for intermediate-level learners. It contains 7000 words and all of the words required for the Goethe-Institut's B1 test.

There are also about 30 pages of pictures with items on them labeled with the vocabulary, for example kitchen items, what you'll find at the check-out at the grocery store, insects, pets, and more.

Online/Digital Dictionaries

"If you love to get lost down the wormhole of German on the internet, this is the place to go." ~Frau Warner


This is the "Digital Dictionary of the German Language" and it is stellar!

It can also be completely overwhelming, so feel free to "get in and get out" when you look something up there.


This is the official German dictionary and the one experts refer to. If a word has been officially recognized in German, it is in this dictionary.

Swiss-German Dictionary

Schweizerhochdeutsch Wörterbuch der Standardssprache in der deutschen Schweiz

ISBN 978-3-411-70417-0

You'll have to perform an internet search or go use that big jungle site to order this one. Or order it directly from a German-speaking country.

Bonus - Aussprache

If you haven't yet, listen to the end of this podcast episode for the correct pronunciation of these vocabulary words:

das Buch, die Bücher = the book, the books

das Wörterbuch, die Wörterbücher = the dictionary, the dictionaries

The 3 Elements Which Make German Hard...or Easy...to Learn
How do you "Tell your folks I says hi" in German?



Been an active German language enthusiast for over 30 years.

First purchace from Amazon was the Luther Bible. Read it side by side with the english version.

This is when I decided I needed an online dictionary.

The choice of the best german-English dictionary is, - it depends.

They all have their merits and strengths.


This dictionary is the most forgiving of misspelling and offers a list of synonyms. 

And if you are a poet or singer, it gives a strong list of rhyming and similar words.

The site seriously needs a facelift. 

I've moved on from it.


Laß mich vorerst etwas schlicht und einfach sagen.

Leo is by far the best and most useful of them all - on windows.


On mobile devices, use is look see only (no copy). I find this annoying and is why I don't pay for the pur version. A language can not be copyrighted by an app.

Can someone bring back Canoonet please? Canoonet was an excellent Grammatik for us all and LEO took it over and is further developing this concept. I am greatful to LEO for this. I think even Frau Angela Merkel commented on the acquisition at one point.

Leo has conjugation/flexion tables at hand just with one more click. 

Listings from a search can be unfocused and is stict on infinitival construction (good and at times not so good). It focuses on construction over meaning making it cumbersome to catch on at times.

And its speedsheet format layout makes it more limited to stretch but not as sturr as dict.cc


With most Treffer (hits) you get a word with Flexionsklassen and Plural formen, Lautschriften for singular and now plural, and (for me) so called outdated spelling forms which I refuse to depart from. (I have little respect for the Rechtschreibungsgebote as I was around before them).

Pons also shines in concept over construct and breaks down a search term based on its possible meaning options.

Pons finally is the best at gramatical construct learning, such prepositional objects of a verb.

Try it, type warten auf. Klasse!

Pons is my number 2 go to dictionary overall, but I go to pons when I need better insite than Leo gives.


This resourse continues to hold on from decades of old.

It it shines in applied use, giving sentences and structures, if you can find them.

Listings can go on forever. No kidding, I mean greater than 50 pages...

And the organization is by word number: 1, 2, 3 words and so on. Who can work with that.

Finally, the spreedsheet layout is the most static you get when it comes to enlarging the size.

Dict.cc is great on mobile phones and takes over as number one from LEO here.


They say it is (was) the best. Maybe sometime ago, but using Duden is too cumbersome and slow with too many button pushes to get a result. Duden has fallen behind the technical age. Let me add, I bought some Duden language books but gave up reading them as it was too unordered and aimless for me.

Duden and Pons both shine in Satzbeispiele.


Needs work, but it brings tags to dictionaries that the others don't.

It also uses a blue text color to highlight the key concept in the phrase.


Best conjugation table reference, but it has errors, and oversite with multiple entry morphems (words) can be hard to oversee. I think they themselves get mixed up here. You can still find the vanishing Dative Sinugular e here.

Other notable quick fixes: DeepL and Languagetool are both on my devices.

Hope this helps

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Nicole Warner

Vielen Dank für diese Informationen! You're right, all the dictionaries have their merits and their strengths, it's a matter of discovering which dictionary works for you and to perhaps adjust over time. Some days all you might want is a physical book, another day you might want the quick access through an app or a website.

Viel Spaß beim Deutschlernen!

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