Need an Italian Dictionary App? Try These 8 Great Online and Offline Options
We’re long past the days when one would carry a pocket Italian dictionary around in the streets of Naples, or heft a desk volume off the shelves to help with our Italian studies.
There are a number of excellent English-Italian reference works available for Android and iOS platforms that can help solve your queries without weighing you down.
This post outlines the best free and paid apps that are out there, and it also discusses the variety of learning and life situations in which you might need them.
- The Top 8 Italian Dictionary Apps for Online and Offline Queries
- Tips for Utilizing Italian Dictionary Apps to Suit Your Needs
- And One More Thing...
The Top 8 Italian Dictionary Apps for Online and Offline Queries
All of the apps below are recommended, and all of them are in constant development.
These descriptions are meant to give you a jumping-off point, but specific features and limitations change quickly, so check the links to the apps themselves for the most up-to-date information.
iOS | Android
This is a very complete, online-only tool for looking up Italian words and phrases.
Upon looking up an adjective like “lazy,” you get the main translation pigro, but below that a number of alternate words that you might use if you’re talking about the lazy flow of a river, a lazy summer afternoon, a lazy job on something, a lazy eye, and so on—with the context explained for each.
If that’s not enough, the app also gives you access to WordReference’s celebrated and very useful English-Italian forum, where it seems that idle translators hang out just for the thrill of solving conundrums like how one might handle “lazy bum” or “it’s a lazy day.” If you make a free account, you can pose your own questions or help others with their queries.
Also useful for learners are the provided Italian verb conjugations and the links to Google Image searches of the word at the bottom of each definition.
iOS | Android
Yes, this is a translation app: It can do Italian-English translations of typed text, photos of text and the spoken word. But it also functions as a very decent dictionary!
Look up a common verb like affittare and you’ll get the basic English translation “rent,” but below that you’ll also see another handful of other options (“hire,” “lease,” etc.) and various translations for each one of those back into Italian.
This app beats out many other dictionary apps in its ability to handle your misspellings and take you straight to the information you want, without even pausing to ask you if you really meant affittare instead of
affitare, for example.
You can choose to save Italian and English to your device and use this as an entirely offline application. Voice recognition doesn’t work offline for the iOS version, however.
Oxford-Paravia Italian Dictionary
iOS | Android
This monster dictionary claims to have 450,000 total translations for 300,000 words and phrases. The trial version is online-only, after purchasing the full version, you can use it offline. Like WordReference, it gives a number of translation ideas for a word like “lazy,” although not quite as many.
The app offers guesses as to what you meant by misspellings, although it’s not quite as intuitive as WordReference or Google Translate. Still, it provides careful usage guidance and some definitions and uses that you won’t find elsewhere.
Several features aimed at language learners are included in the app—such as a collection of most frequently used words in Italian, verb tables, and topic-based vocabulary lists.
The iOS version of the app contains a bundle of Oxford dictionaries, with the Paravia Italian Dictionary among them.
iOS | Android
Dictionary Linguee is free and available in offline mode. It features audio recordings for each word, so you can check the correct pronunciation of the word along with the meaning.
The app provides translations almost instantly, offering possibilities after only a few letters have been typed. It translates simultaneously between English and Italian, showing translations in both languages at once.
One of the interesting things about this app is that it doesn’t just include sample sentences: The dictionary pulls actual examples of the words in use from reputable sources around the web, enabling learners to see the word used in a real-life context.
Collins Italian Dictionary
iOS | Android
This paid app is a collaboration between Ultra Lingua and Harper Collins. Both are leaders in the language field, so you can be sure of the quality and accuracy of the definitions!
You’ll find more than 70,000 entries here, including phrases, idioms and slang as well as mainstream vocabulary; all accessible offline. The dictionary also has a smart search feature, helping you to find a word even if you misspell it.
The app also comes with complete conjugation lists for verbs, as well as usage notes and examples for more complex words and phrases. Where applicable, this dictionary highlights regional variations, which is exceedingly helpful given the variety of Italian dialects in use across the country.
Audio Collins Mini Gem English-Italian Dictionary by MobiSystems, Inc.
This app is free for the first 30 days and can function offline.
It offers translations of words and there’s some usage guidance for those learning English, but not for those learning Italian, so you have to reverse-engineer to get something out of that. There are, however, pronunciations of the Italian words (when connected to the Internet).
For language learners, the app offers the option to create custom lists of words and a word of the day feature that helps you discover new vocabulary.
Thanks to smart search tools, the app searches for words as you type, so you may not have to finish typing a word in order to see it pop up. You also don’t need to get the spelling completely right each time: The app comes with a filter to automatically correct spelling.
Italian-English dictionary by AllDict
This app provides simple interface for translations for any word offline. It gives a number of simple definitions but without context or usage guidelines, so you may not necessarily know which word choice is most appropriate in a given situation. Click on any of them to hear how they sound in Italian (this function only works if you’re online, though).
An interesting aspect for language learners is that you can create custom lists of words you want to learn. The app will then generate listening, writing and translation exercises based on your lists to help you broaden your Italian vocabulary.
Italian Dictionary Offline
This free app is based on the online resource Wiktionary, bringing its 69,000+ words offline for easy reference anywhere, anytime. Alongside enabling you to look up word definitions, the app also encourages the learning of new vocabulary with its random search option. Great for discovering and memorizing new words!
The only issue to keep in mind is that it’s a monolingual dictionary—it’s entirely in Italian, with no English translations. This makes it the perfect offline resource for advanced learners, unafraid to tackle Italian definitions.
The app comes with a surprising amount of visual customization options—you can change the appearance of most interfaces to suit your preferences.
Tips for Utilizing Italian Dictionary Apps to Suit Your Needs
A major consideration for many when planning a trip to Italy is finding an app whose definition database can be downloaded and used offline, as most mobile service providers (except notably Fi) charge you extra to connect while abroad. As you’re sure to have noticed, a number of the Italian learning apps I highlight above can be used offline.
However, I think this whole preoccupation is woefully misplaced; you can buy an Italian SIM card immediately upon arrival in pretty much any major airport or train station in Italy. I always do.
Stands for TIM are quite common and you can get a SIM card with some credit for 20-30 euros. Shops for Vodafone and Wind are also easy to find, and if you go to an Italian post office, PosteMobile offers cheap service. You should unlock your phone before you travel or else get a second cheap, unlocked (used) smartphone just for the road.
Then you’ll be able to look up dictionary definitions on the fly (and even the offline apps listed above offer better experiences if you’re connected). You’ll also be able to look up info on maps, landmarks and events. Plus, you’ll be in easy contact with any hosts and interesting Italians you meet during your adventures. Being able to connect can vastly improve your experience with Italy and its people.
If you’re not traveling and just want an Italian dictionary app on your phone for studying or taking to classes and conversation exchanges, there’s no reason to specifically look for an offline version, because these apps already tend to use very little data. Opt for an online dictionary app, and you’ll always have the most complete dictionary look-ups in your pocket, just a tap away. As noted, some of the apps also let you save the words you look up to a list for later study.
To optimize your dictionary-based studies, it’s recommended that you combine these apps with other downloadable language learning programs. That way, you can see in real contexts the words you look up and understand how to use them in conversation. Many programs can also include dictionary-like functions to make the learning process more seamless.
For example, FluentU lets you learn with authentic Italian videos enhanced with interactive subtitles. As you watch, you can click on any word or expression to get its definition, pronunciation, grammar details and examples of usage. These words can later be practiced through flashcards and personalized quizzes.
These aren’t your “one-and-done” paperback dictionaries! There’s room for personalization when it comes to dictionary apps, and you can make it so that they’re more convenient and suitable to your study habits.
Whether you’re on a dusty mountain road in Italy or at home in a hammock with a great piece of Italian literature, these tools should allow you to look up just about anything you need.
Great dictionary apps are meant to let you dive in quickly for what you need, and then hop back out into your life and put those words to use.
Take the above for a spin and see how they revolutionize your life as an Italian learner!
And One More Thing...
If you're as busy as most of us, you don't always have time for lengthy language lessons. The solution? FluentU!
Learn Italian with funny commericals, documentary excerpts and web series, as you can see here:
FluentU helps you get comfortable with everyday Italian by combining all the benefits of complete immersion and native-level conversations with interactive subtitles. Tap on any word to instantly see an image, in-context definition, example sentences and other videos in which the word is used.
Access a complete interactive transcript of every video under the Dialogue tab, and review words and phrases with convenient audio clips under Vocab.
Once you've watched a video, you can use FluentU's quizzes to actively practice all the vocabulary in that video. Swipe left or right to see more examples of the word you’re on.
FluentU will even keep track of all the Italian words you’re learning, and give you extra practice with difficult words. Plus, it'll tell you exactly when it's time for review. Now that's a 100% personalized experience!
The best part? You can try FluentU for free with a trial.
Start using Fluent on the website, or better yet, download the app from the iTunes store or from the Google Play store.