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)
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
Langenscheidt Standard Dictionary ISBN 978-3468980466
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.
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)
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.
"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.
Schweizerhochdeutsch Wörterbuch der Standardssprache in der deutschen Schweiz
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
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