10 best online German dictionaries

Last Updated on September 12, 2022

If you live in Germany, online German dictionaries are a daily necessity. I think that no one remembers paper dictionaries anymore. The choice, however, is not so rich.

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Online German dictionaries are developing very quickly, but it cannot be said that all of them are convenient enough. Some lack functionality, some are full of ads. I chose the most developed to date. Perhaps you will find something new – this market is very competitive.

Google Translate and Deepl

Google translate is a fast help, very adequate and getting better all the time.

The language training component of the translator is minimal. Information about a word can be obtained by double-clicking on it. An article appears (not always) with several meanings (again, not necessarily all). There is no additional information about the forms, there is no articles, but there are examples of meanings that can help. There is also a list of synonyms. Here it is convenient: in addition to choosing a more suitable synonym, articles also appear there.

If you think that after putting your sentence into Google translate, you will get it back with corrected errors, you are mistaken. For example:

Brot – with the article das, so eine cannot be. To get a sentence without errors, you must write a German sentence, translate it into your language, and then make a reverse translation. If you’re lucky, you’ll get the same sentence, but corrected. If you’re not lucky – a completely different sentence. Sometimes it helps to break a sentence into pieces. But in any case, Google Translate is not good for checking errors.

And what is it good for? For fast text translation. You have received a German text and want to quickly understand what it is about.

But if you want to translate from your language into German for some letter or courses, you should check the translation properly. That is, you must understand German enough to be able to see the nonsense.

I use Google Translate every day, so I have come across many masterpieces of his translation. Of course, there is no time to record all this. The funniest thing is when words appear that were not in the source at all. It once translated a phrase about a sad story (something like “it was a sad story”) with the words “sad about his death.” And when I wrote about a French castle, the word “hotel” suddenly appeared – apparently, regards from Google maps.

The following simple examples clearly demonstrate the nonsense that you may run into.

Gymnasium Google translates regulary also as “gymnastic hall” and Realschule as richtige or echte Schule.

But the above does not mean that Google should not be used, you just need to check it.

Deepl can become an alternative to Google. Everything is about the same, but there is no additional information at all. You can also translate texts in certain formats (in a limited amount – more for money). I read that Deepl is cool compared to Google. I checked it repeatedly on different texts. Yes, sometimes it translates better. And sometimes worse. Fifty-fifty. I use Google all the time, because I write in three languages and Google is more flexible in this, but when Google is especially delusional, I check these paragraphs on Deepl.

There are also translators https://www.translator.eu, https://www.translate.eu, but they offer the same translations as Google and they are full of ads.

Leo

https://dict.leo.org

Leo is still number one in the classic online German dictionaries. The design on the site is a bit inconvenient, you have to get used to where everything is. I like that there are forms, prepositions are indicated for each meaning, many expressions are given. And there is no need to look for information among huge advertising banners, as is the case in many other free dictionaries.

In applications for Android, Leo is also the best so far. To get forms in the Leo app, long press on a word.

Online German dictionaries

Pons

Pons

Since the last time I wrote about it, Pons has improved a lot. As if they read my criticism: the ads were removed, the form tables were added. The examples are transparently grouped by meaning. The dictionary has become really worth using. But I am still not yet enthusiastic about Pons’ books.

As my aunt, a translator from English, says, if you want to learn a language, use monolingual dictionaries. Therefore, further online dictionaries German – German.

Duden

www.duden.de.

It is enough to type in Google in the search for “duden + the required word”, as a link to the desired article pops up. This is more convenient than searching through the site’s search form (fewer ads pop up). The main drawback of Duden, in my opinion, is the excessive amount of advertising and the instability of articles: different words have a different set of available elements of a dictionary entry. For example, I did not always find word forms there when I was looking for them.

But having typed all the same word hängen in Duden, we suddenly find that there are two verbs: weak and strong. What you will learn in many other dictionaries only by applying deductive methods. For example, in Leo, different forms will be visible in small print, and in other online German dictionaries there are small letters vi and vt.

Let’s take a strong verb as an example. Scrolling through the ads, we find many different interesting things in inconvinient packaging:
an overview of the different meanings (which are links that you can jump down to),
synonyms,
pronunciation,
origin,
table of forms,
a detailed description of the meanings with examples for each.

thefreedictionary.com

A simple and not overly ad-heavy explanatory dictionary https://de.thefreedictionary.com

Canoo.net

UPD. Unfortunately, it has closed. Some of the data was given to Leo, but the derivation tables remain in the possession of the creators, so they are not shown anywhere. At least at the beginning of 2022.

http://www.canoo.net was a good source for grammar and derivation.


Do you have any more questions? Use comments ⇓ or private communication form

Wikionary

You can also use the German Wikionary, but, in my opinion, it has still not enough information, you can only get the most general picture there. But there are audio tracks and transcriptions for words, which is convenient if you are completely confused by local dialects or words from other languages.

And of course, my favorite way: find the page of the Wiki in mother language and press the Deutsch button. This is how I usually look for words related to science: the names of the active ingredients of medicines (to find German analogues), the names of animals / birds / plants, etc.

DWDS

Finally my absolute favorite – Digitales Wörterbuch der deutschen Sprache.

Here you can find information about the origin, meanings and examples, use with different words, frequency.

The following are the meanings in detail with examples.

Etymology, synonyms, typical word connections and examples from newspapers and books. If you click on DWDS-Wortprofil, a table of typical combinations of this word will appear and examples from newspapers and books for each combination.

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