You are incredibly lucky.
Want to know why?
Well, as a German learner living in the internet age, so much is available at your fingertips!
And if those aren’t enough reasons to consider yourself lucky, here’s another bonus courtesy of the smartphone era: dictionary apps.
Yes friends, today is the day to bid farewell to your bulky German-English dictionaries and phrasebooks. Never again will you need to lug one of those around!
There are tons of handy smartphone apps out there that can replace your old, printed German dictionary, so which is best for you?
It all depends on what you want to use your dictionary for! Do you find that listening to words is the best way to learn? Or are quizzes the most helpful tool for you? Are you searching for a dictionary that offers German translations in languages other than English? Do you need an offline dictionary, or is an online dictionary no problem?
We’ve gone ahead and tested some out, ultimately selecting five of the best German dictionary apps currently available, in order to help you figure out which to try first. These awesome apps are all free, and they each have different advantages for the German learner:
The 5 Best Free Dictionary Apps for Learning German
Android: Dict.cc at Google Play
This dictionary app is available in 51 language combinations, so if you speak Spanish as well as English, for example, you can look up German translations in both languages! Simply download the language pack for each language you want to search in, and you can search words offline at any time. So even when you don’t have internet access or cell reception, this app will never leave you stranded without a dictionary.
Dict.cc has an option to listen to the pronunciation of each word, and its extensive definitions include context-specific word use and identification of regional dialects. It also features a user-friendly search bar that suggests possible searches as you type, and word look-up in both of your selected languages. Dict.cc also stands out due to its clean, minimal graphics. No clutter or distracting typefaces here, just a cheerful color scheme and an easy-to-navigate layout.
Dict.cc includes a wide variety of phrases and idioms in its dictionary, which means that you can search an idiomatic German phrase and find out not only what it literally means, but also see its English equivalent.
This app’s huge variety of languages makes it a great choice for multilingual people who want to see German translations in more than one language. It’s also handy for travelers who may want to look up English translations for languages other than German. If you’re an English speaker traveling throughout Europe, Dict.cc should cover most of your translation needs!
German Dictionary by VidaLingua
Android: VidaLingua Dictionary at Google Play
This dictionary app is a phrasebook, dictionary and quiz game rolled into one! The extensive phrase section offers German learners a great variety of conversation starters and essential phrases sorted by topics ranging from shopping to flirting to the weather. The phrases can be listened to in both English and German. The quiz game allows you to sneak in some speedy German practice on-the-go by matching English words to their German equivalents.
Last but not least, VidaLingua’s dictionary also offers a list of verbs separate from the regular dictionary, which could be helpful for students doing test review… or for when you get tired of trying to memorize all those tricky German articles, and just want to learn some new verbs instead. Vida Lingua also offers a search bar prompter and word look-up in both English and German.
This app has a search history function which allows you to see the past few words you’ve looked up. This is super handy for when you look up a new German word and then forget the meaning a second later (it happens to all of us sometimes).
Total beginners who aren’t yet sure how to pronounce many words will really benefit from VidaLingua’s phrasebook feature. This is especially useful for new learners traveling in a German-speaking country, as it can help with everything from ordering a Bratwurst to finding the tourist information bureau. The quiz game also makes this app a good choice for the busy German student who wants to make vocabulary practice a bit more fun.
Android: LEO Dictionary at Google Play
This app features cute lion graphics and neatly organized search results, as well as a search bar prompter. LEO dictionary also includes a Forums section where registered users can discuss questions about spelling, grammar and translation with other users — and also chat about German culture. So LEO dictionary isn’t only functional, it’s social too.
Swiping left on search results allows you to see similar words in the source language (useful in case you’ve looked up the wrong word by accident). Swiping right displays related forum discussions. LEO allows you to search online for German translations of words in eight different languages, including English, and will offer word definitions in the opposite language without you having to choose the search direction.
LEO Dictionary has a built-in voice lookup that allows you to search by simply speaking into your phone. This is pretty useful when you’re too busy to type, or if you’re not sure how to spell the word you’re looking up.
German learners who want to connect and chat with other learners will love the LEO Dictionary. It’s like having a German conversation class on your phone! This app is also a good choice for those who prefer talking into their phones over typing.
Android: Babylon Translator at Google Play
Babylon Translator allows you to translate German words not only into English, but also into 30 other languages! It accesses the internet to provide detailed, extensive definitions using sources from its own translation database and even websites like Wikipedia.
This multi-faceted dictionary app also offers a text translator, which can translate an English phrase into German, or vice versa. This is a very useful tool for beginners who want to look up more than just one-word terms, or for those times when you just need a quick word translation and not a detailed dictionary explanation. Babylon also allows you to look up words by speaking into your phone.
One super convenient feature of this app really stands out. With Babylon Translator, you can highlight a word anywhere on your phone, press “copy,” and then pull down the status bar to see a translation of the word – all without having to leave the page you were already on! Clicking on the translation takes you to the Babylon app, allowing you to read a more detailed definition of the word if you’d like.
If your German is advanced enough for you to read German articles online, or even if you are a beginner who likes to learn new vocabulary by reading German news, then the word-selection look-up feature of this app will be the perfect aid to your reading practice.
Android: Farlex Dictionary at Google Play
Although this app isn’t specifically targeted at language learners, if you have some German knowledge already and are looking to work on reading comprehension, Farlex Dictionary can be a huge help. When you search a German word in Farlex’s German dictionary, you’ll be presented with a detailed definition in German (and you can also scroll down to see an English translation). So this app gives you a great chance to practice your reading comprehension while you’re looking up new words.
Even German beginners can benefit from this app, as the accompanying English translations will help you out if you don’t fully understand the German explanation. Farlex Dictionary also includes comprehensive definitions in 14 different languages, which can be useful if you’re learning another language or if you just need to look up the meaning of an English word.
Farlex Dictionary comes with a homepage that you can personalize to include fun stuff like a mini weather report and a word game. The word game, Galgenmännchen (the German version of Hangman, a popular English word-guessing game) is actually very addictive. A bonus is that it gives you an option to go to the definition of the word after the game is done, providing a fast and fun way to learn new German words.
This app will prove useful for advanced German learners. If you’re at that learning level where you still need to look up German words often, but you can usually understand German definitions, this is a great app for you. The German language definitions will help you improve your German knowledge, and the English translations will ensure that you understand exactly what words mean.
Collins German Dictionary
This helpful app offers a hugely comprehensive dictionary (over 80 000 words and phrases!) that can be downloaded to your phone for offline use at any time. Perfect for beginners and more expert German students, Collins Dictionary includes a wide range of fun and useful bonuses, such as a Word of the Day, and several different word games: Hangman, Anagrams, and Word Scramble. It also features a History page where you can view recent searches.
The clear and neatly-laid out definition pages make it easy to find exactly what you’re looking for, and definitions are modern and very thorough, helping you put terms in the right context and figure out their connotations. And in case you want to save and remember important words, Collins Dictionary lets you create a Favorites list, where you can store words you might need to look up later.
One really cool aspect of this dictionary stands out: the search filters. Collins Dictionary lets you search by “Keyword” in order to find key words in compound words, and also…wait for it…searches for words you aren’t sure how to spell! This is such a huge help when you’re a language beginner. By using this app’s “Fuzzy” filter, you can always find the word you’re looking for eventually, even if you’ve mixed up a bunch of letters.
If learning new German vocab through games on your cellphone sounds like a dream come true, Collins Dictionary is just what you need! Teaching yourself vocab can seem like a boring task, but suddenly it’s a whole lot more fun when you add a bit of a competitive edge. In general, those who are studying German independently and like to learn through technology will get a lot out of this app.
Hopefully one of these great apps turns out to be the right one for you! Having a German dictionary on your phone will make looking up weird words so much easier. And with quizzes, games and tons of other fun ways to learn new vocabulary, these apps will definitely accelerate your German learning.
How to Keep Building Your German Vocabulary
Love learning new words? Then you should look into using FluentU to immerse yourself in German online and learn language from real-world videos!
Using language learning programs like FluentU ensures that you’ll find content you love to learn with.
For example, FluentU has everything from basic German grammar lessons to vintage Volkswagen advertisements, Autobahn footage, relaxing yoga videos and the trailer for “Maleficent.”
Love the idea of watching fun German videos, but need some help understanding them? FluentU’s interactive transcripts bring native videos within reach.
Just tap on any subtitled word to see an in-context definition, usage examples and a helpful illustration. It’s like having a high-tech dictionary built right into your favorite videos!
You can probably already tell that FluentU isn’t just for watching videos.
It’s a complete language learning program which provides plenty of tools to actively practice your German vocabulary and grammar, like interactive subtitles, flashcards, vocabulary lists and more.
By integrating FluentU into your German language learning routine, you’ll be able to push yourself farther, faster.
Between your handy new dictionary apps and FluentU, you’re going to be amazed at how fast you absorb German vocabulary.
All that’s left is to go out there and get started!
If you liked this post, something tells me that you'll love FluentU, the best way to learn German with real-world videos.