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Top 18 Best Online Dictionaries for Writers

Writing is play and writers are the artists of words. Although writing is more than just stuffing fancy words, dictionaries can help writers write in a better way. Every writer wants to extend their vocabulary and word power to improve their write-ups. However, not everyone is a lexophile, and continuous reading and finding new words in a physical dictionary can be tedious and frustrating. Moreover, carrying a heavy and baggy dictionary is also a hectic task. So, for all those people dealing daily with words, there are lots of online dictionaries options available.

Best Online Dictionaries for Writers

Types of Online Dictionaries:

The dictionaries are made for multiple purposes. The use of dictionaries is also a subjective matter. Some people use a dictionary for knowing the meanings of certain words; some use it for knowing the same words in other languages; some people need words that are used particularly in any field, and some want to have deep knowledge of words. Based on different preferences, there are several types of online dictionaries. Some of the details about dictionaries are discussed below.

  • Monolingual Dictionary

Monolingual (Mono=one; Lingual= language) dictionaries are those which are written completely in a single language. These dictionaries provide all the information and vocabulary in one single language. The definition and description of the words are given in the same language.

These are generally used for the new learners of any language. For example, a dictionary having both headwords and descriptions in English is a monolingual dictionary.

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  • Bilingual Dictionary

Bilingual dictionaries are those that are written in two different languages (Bi= two; Lingual= language). The meaning and definition of the words are in some other language than the one with which the word is written.

For example, an English to French dictionary contains English headwords and French explanations. There are a plethora of options available for bilingual online dictionaries that have a combination of two different languages.

  • Multilingual Dictionary

Multilingual dictionaries (Multi= many; Lingual= language) are those which are written in more than two languages. These dictionaries have all the words written in a single language with their explanation in different languages.

For example, if a multilingual dictionary has a headword written in English, then the explanation would be in French, Spanish, Russian, or any of the other languages. These are generally used for multi-language translations.

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  • Etymological Dictionary

Etymological dictionaries describe the etymology of the words, i.e., the origin, and development of each word. These are the results of research in historical linguistics. These explain the development of the words over time by giving historical examples to show changes.

For example, if we look for a word in an etymological dictionary like English, then it is described that the source of the word ‘English’ is ‘Engl,’ which comes from the Angles, an ancient Germanic tribe who spoke a language that became English. The suffix -ish simply signifies “language of” in this situation.

The term ‘thesaurus’ is derived from an Ancient Greek word that means ‘treasure trove’ or ‘storehouse’. These are the types of dictionaries that are written in the form of categories and concepts without explaining the meaning of the words.

For example, a dictionary written in the form of a list of antonyms and synonyms without explaining the terms is considered a thesaurus. These are generally used by writers who want to avoid the repetitions of the same word again and again or need a fancy vocab to describe something or want to find the best-suited words to express their ideas.

  • Rhyming Dictionary

A rhyming dictionary is a specialized dictionary that lists words according to the final sound or the end sound of the words. The words ending with the same sound i, e, rhyming words are placed together in this kind of dictionary. These can become a vital resource for poets or poetry lovers.

  • Glossary

A glossary is a kind of specialized dictionary having a list of words and phrases that are used in a particular field, subject, or area, along with their definitions and explanations.

In other words, a glossary contains explanations of concepts relevant to a specific field of study or action. In the initial days, the glossaries were printed on the back of the books as a list of difficult terminologies along with their explanations.

Then gradually, glossary dictionaries were developed. These days many online dictionaries for writers are available in various disciplines. These are considered extremely helpful to people researching in a specific field. Legal dictionaries, medical glossaries are some of the available online dictionaries for writers.

  • Dictionary of Idioms

Idiom dictionaries are those which catalog and define idioms, or distinctive words or phrases with figurative meanings that go beyond the word’s original sense. These include a collection of idioms, phrasal verbs, proverbs, slang words, sayings, and many more.

The origin and history of idioms are also sometimes described along with examples. These idiom dictionaries can be monolingual, bilingual, or multilingual.

  • Dictionary of Abbreviations

A dictionary of abbreviations is a kind of collection booklet that lists the acronyms together. These dictionaries can be subject-specific, for example technical, medical, legal, or can also be for general purposes.

  • Crossword Dictionary

A crossword dictionary is basically for those people who love playing crossword puzzles. It groups the words by the number of the letters they contain, to help people find words of specific lengths to complete their crossword puzzles. These are a kind of solution manual for crossword puzzles. There are many online crossword dictionaries available for users to try.

Perks of Having an Online Dictionary:

  • Free

Most of the online dictionaries are available free for users. So it becomes easier and cost-effective for them to use online dictionaries than physical ones, especially if they need to have special dictionaries for different fields.

  • Easily Accessible

Online dictionaries need not always be carried like the physical ones. These can be used anywhere and on any device, according to the convenience of the user.

  • Variety of Options Available

There are lots of good options available for online dictionaries to choose from. An online dictionary can be a general-purpose or specialized one.

  • Regular Modification and Updates

Unlike physical dictionaries, online dictionaries are modified and updated regularly. So, there is no need to purchase a new modified edition as these are globally updated automatically.

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  • Advanced Features

Online dictionaries have various advanced features to make them easy to use. For example, to find a word we just need to type the word instead of flipping pages and getting lost.

  • Resistant to Physical Damage

There is no need to worry about torn pages or spilled water in the case of an online dictionary. The online dictionaries are free from any kind of physical damage, which gives them an extra edge over the physical dictionaries.

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Top 18 Best Online Dictionaries for Writers

1. Google Dictionary

One of the best online dictionaries for writers offered by Google is the Google dictionary. It comes in a wide variety of languages including English, Spanish, Russian, Chinese, French, and so on. It has some fascinating features like definition, explanations, voice pronunciation, example sentences, and related phrases. This is one of the most popular and easy-to-use dictionaries of all time.

2. Wiktionary

Wiktionary is a free multilingual dictionary available online. It is owned by Wikimedia Foundation and just like its sister project Wikipedia, it is maintained and collaborated by volunteers, known as Wiktionarians. The main downside of this is that it can be edited by anyone on the internet which sometimes becomes a concern for its accuracy. If used responsibly it is one of the best online dictionaries.

3. Dictionary.com

Dictionary.com is a site whose domain was first registered on May 14, 1995. It provides the best definitions, pronunciations, word origins, and history. The content is regularly updated and maintained according to Random House Unabridged Dictionary and Collins English Dictionary and other standard dictionaries.

The main thing that makes it one of the best online dictionaries for writers is its features like Word of the Day, crossword solver. These features are very useful for new learners and writers to enhance their vocabulary.

4. Collins Dictionary

Collins Dictionary is one of the best online dictionaries for writers who want to work on their grammar and fluency. It is a repository of billions of words with some unique features including thesaurus, videos, translator, and scrabble.

It also works on crowd-sourcing just like Wiktionary and Urban Dictionary but the editorial rights remain distinct. It publishes reliable and authoritative information about English as well as other languages like French, German, Italian, and Spanish.

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5. Visuwords

Visuwords is an online graphical dictionary that visualizes words and their meaning as illustrations. It presents graphical images to explain the concepts and meaning of the words and thus creates an attractive interface. It is also known as a visual dictionary, visual thesaurus, and interactive lexicon.

It is easy to use, unique, and interesting concept of presenting a dictionary. With a single click on the button ‘Visualize a Word’ in the search query box it presents a series of illustrations like flow charts spreading out of the word explaining meaning, definition, synonyms, antonyms of the word.  It is one of the best online dictionaries for writers who enjoy exploring something new and creative.

6. Urban Dictionary

Founded by Aaron Peckham, the Urban dictionary is not a usual vocabulary dictionary or a thesaurus. It is a popular digital repository with millions of definitions for all kinds of slang and pun words. It is a crowd-sourced online dictionary for all types of expressions whether it be offensive, teen humor, or sometimes sexual.

It is an open platform that lets its users decide and vote whether a new word is worth adding to the database or not. It is one of the best online dictionaries for writers to connect and communicate through different cultures. It can be a helpful resource for the writers trying to find the right words for their fictional and humorous novels.

7. Merriam- Webster Dictionary

If you are looking for a classic online dictionary then Merriam- Webster is a great choice for you. It is available both in print and online form. It is the oldest and most trusted American dictionary of all time.

It is one of the best online dictionaries for writers who have just started their journey with words and are keen to improve their English every day. Merriam- Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary is their best seller dictionary. It also has a medical and Spanish to English translation dictionary.

8. Macmillan Dictionary

Macmillan Dictionary is a collection of various dictionaries like Macmillan dictionary for beginners, Macmillan dictionary for advanced learners, Macmillan Collocations Dictionary, Macmillan Dictionary for Environment, and some others.

It is one of the best online dictionaries for writers who want to know which phrases or words are most frequently used among others. It has a unique feature to mark and star particular words with different colors. It is regularly updated through crowd-sourced components.

9. Rhymezone

If you are struggling hard to find the perfect ending words for your verse or poem, then Rhymezone has the answers for all your needs. Rhymezone, as the name suggests, is a rhyming words dictionary that offers a wide variety of rhyming words and their examples on how to use them in sentences.

It takes just a single click to generate the best-suited rhyming words for you. Its content is available in Spanish and English versions. It also offers features like meaning, definition, and spellcheck.

10. Brainy Quote

Brainy Quote is a special and unique concept of dictionaries. It collates hundreds of quotes and presents them in a well-structured manner based on the author or topic. It comprises quotes from every sector be it the historic, political, fashion, and cultural history of the world.

It even has a section where you can add your quote. It is one of the best online dictionaries for writers looking for quotes to be included in a book, blog, or maybe life.

11. Netlingo

Netlingo is an online dictionary that comprises more than thousands of texting abbreviations and jargon that are used in our daily life. It covers almost all the abbreviations used on the internet whether on social media, emails, websites, games, blogs all are listed on their website.

It tracks and updates the global list of internet jargon every month. It is one of the best online dictionaries for writers who write for the ever-evolving short writings on the internet.

12. Theidioms.com

Theidioms.com is an educational website developed by multinational writers and linguists. The idioms present the list of famous sayings, idioms, and phrases with their meaning and examples.

The list is categorized according to alphabetical order and topics of the idioms which makes it easy to scan for users. It lets its users submit any phrases or idioms that are missing from the website. It is one of the best options for idiom lovers.

13. Wordia

Wordia is a kind of interacting self-generated video dictionary. It has a unique concept of explaining words and their meaning and definition by displaying user-generated professional videos.

For example, if you search for the word ‘banana’; it would be defined as a yellow fruit, shaped often like a crescent moon, big or small but size doesn’t really matter’.

It is best for the people learning English as a second language or children that have started their learning phase. It is a fun learning experience rather than old traditional ones.

14. Thesaurus. Com

For the people struggling with the repetition of the same words again and again in their writing, thesaurus.com comes to their escape. It is an extension of dictionary.com, which itself is a great online dictionary.

It is a simple-to-use website that lists thousands of words with all the possible synonyms and antonyms in the English language. Its features like words of the day and blog corner enhance its user experience.

15. Gutenberg

The Gutenberg dictionary is also known as Project Gutenberg. It is an online free library for ebooks. It has a free collection of more than 66,490 e-books that have been published over 50 years. It presents lists of e-books categorized by author, title, subject, language, type, popularity, and more. It can be considered pure heaven for book lovers.

16. Cockney Rhyming Dictionary

Cockney Rhyming Slang Dictionary is a unique concept dictionary, based on the Cockney of London. Cockney is a special dialect that is spoken in London and surrounding areas. This dictionary has rhyming slangs that are developed by replacing any common term with a phrase of two or more syllables.

The last words for each slang rhyme with the original word. The omission of the secondary rhyming word from the end of the phrase makes the origin and meaning of the phrase tricky to hear.

The cockney of Australia is also famous nowadays. Some examples of Cockney rhyming Slang would be brass tacks= facts and almond rocks = socks. It is one of the best online dictionaries for writers who want to explore a different style of language.

17. Bartleby

Bartleby is a form of encyclopedia that is developed by Barnes & Noble Education, Inc. It is a group of products like Bartleby learn, Bartleby research, Bartleby research.

It is one of the most reliable references one can find on the internet. It was designed to help students across the world with their learning pathways. It can become a rich resource for writers especially dealing with academic writings.

18. Wordni

Wordnik is a non-profit organization that provides thesaurus and definition content for free. It is basically a platform that researches and gathers definition, meaning, and content from other reliable resources and displays at a single site.

Some of the resources it takes content from are Century Dictionary, Wordnet, the American Heritage Dictionary, and others. It even ranks definitions based on accuracy and usefulness, so you do not need to scroll through the internet to find the best match for your thoughts. It is regularly updated and maintained.

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Frequently Asked Questions

Which is the better choice between offline and online dictionaries?

In today’s fast-paced world online dictionaries make a better and great choice. These are easy to use and are freely available. These are regularly updated and come with a lot of interesting supporting tools.

Which are the best online dictionaries for writers?

There are many great online dictionaries available today. Some of them are Wiktionary, Urban Dictionary, Netlingo, Brainy Quotes, Netlingo, Rhymezome, Thesaraus.com, Gutenberg, Bartleby, etc.

Can we add or edit words in online dictionaries?

Yes, there are certain online dictionaries that involve users in its content creation process and allow users to add, edit and modify content. Some of them are Wiktionary, Brainy Quote, Theidioms.com, etc.

Is using heavy vocabulary from dictionaries good for Article writing?

No, generally writers avoid using too many fancy and heavy words. But sometimes we get stuck in explaining something more technically or in using appropriate words or avoiding repetition of words then dictionaries come in handy.


These are some of the best online dictionaries that aspiring writers can use to increase their vocabulary and for adding a new dimension to their writing.


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