Best monolingual dictionary?

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And while we’re at it, what’s the best dictionary for native speakers ? I have a copy of the Compact OED but it’s truely enourmous, and my old tatty paperback Collins Dictionary is falling apart. What should I get ? I need one with UK Englsih, and one published for the US market.


Anyone ?

For U.S. English, some people like best the American Heritage Dictionary, which has lots of usage notes. Merriam-Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary (now in its tenth edition), however, is generally seen as the standard. Important: Don’t buy just any “Webster’s,” get Merriam-Webster’s.

I think Longman’s is very good, so are Collins Cobuild and Oxford Advanced Learners.

I always tried to encourage students above intermediate level to use an English-English dictionary and these were the ones I recommended.

While English-English dictionaries are good for learners of intermediate level or higher. Picture dictionaries are great for those at a lower level and also for expanding the vocabulary of higher level students.

I hate dictionaries from Longman… BLAHHHH

The Cobuild ones are the best for your money. They are full of useful information such as sample sentences, frequency, usage, grammar, pragmatics, geographical info, etc etc, I feel it is more than any other dictionary and it is great for people studying English who are ready for an English to English dictionary.

Oxford and Websters are too difficult for many students, it will make them feel hopeless. Collins is easy to understand and useful.


[quote]What should I get ? I need one with UK Englsih, and one published for the US market.

I have an Oxford paperback which has Brit/American everything and 4000 or so place names, people etc. I’m happy with it, and use it with students too.

I have recently bought the Collins Cobuild on CD Rom and am finding it quite useful. Some of the definitions are a bit simplistic however.

Random House Webster Dictionary and Thesaurus. DOS Version.
Best dictionary. Fast performance. Have etimology, Pronunciation and case sensitivity. Been using it for more than ten years now and it still serve my purpose.


I just got American Heritage fourth edition on CD and like it a lot. It has an option to not include vulgar terms when you install it. It’s also available online at or except that at the pronunciation function is a premium service.
If you use Word, then you can highlight a word, right-click, and select American Heritage to look up the word. If it’s misspelled, it will show some suggestions.

Whenever I shop for a dictionary, the first thing I look for is dirty words and if they aren’t included I pass it by.

I usually test a dictionary with difficult words like potamic, brumal, apodictic, and so forth.


I always look up words which are almost incapable of definition, such as “time”, or “beauty”.

Time has 57 definition in Random House and beauty has six.