The very phrase might make you run for cover as your arms hurt at the thought of lugging around such huge, cumbersome volumes.
As you imagine melodramatically dropping to the floor, exhausted and despondent, you ask yourself, “Isn’t there a better option?”
Yes, there is.
And it’s okay, you can stop hiding back there.
There’s a much better option that won’t require follow-up physical therapy, and for which you only need one of our favorite learning tools: the internet.
Yep, online Spanish dictionaries are an incredibly helpful learning resource with nary a single major drawback.
Dictionary apps are also great for on-the-go Spanish language learners. But if you can’t commit that sort of memory and you still want all the learning value, dictionary sites are helpful, accessible and easy to use online.
Plus, online dictionaries are a great supplement to your textbooks and other learning books that don’t take up valuable shelf space.
They’ll help you learn words. They’ll help you improve your reading skills. They can even help you immerse yourself in Spanish.
With so many great benefits, it’s time to define your learning with an online Spanish dictionary today!
Why Use an Online Spanish Dictionary?
- One reason why you’ll want to use an online dictionary is obvious: convenience. You can access online Spanish dictionaries from your computer. You can access them on your phone. You can access them from your iPad. They’re pretty much with you wherever you go whether you like it or not. Instead of having to get out a dictionary and carefully look up a word, all you have to do is type in the address and go. What used to take minutes now takes mere seconds.
- Also, they’re incredibly comprehensive. Anyone who’s ever had a favorite printed dictionary will probably tell you the same thing about them: they’re thick. They have to be for all the information you might want. But since online dictionaries aren’t confined by two covers, they tend to be more comprehensive than most printed dictionaries, and so more likely to have whatever underused word you’re searching for.
- If convenience and comprehensiveness aren’t enough to win you over to online dictionaries, perhaps their special features will earn your favor. Yes, online dictionaries are chock-full of special features. I bet your favorite print dictionary won’t speak a word for you, now will it? And if that’s not enough, many online dictionaries have examples or word usage and conjugations. They’re a tremendous source for all your language learning needs.
Now that you know why online Spanish dictionaries are such a valuable tool, let’s talk about how you can use them. There’s so much more you can do with one than just look up words!
How to Use an Online Spanish Dictionary for Maximum Learning
Read definitions in English or Spanish
Using dictionaries to look up words and read their definitions is an obvious (but well-advised) choice. You can translate from Spanish to English. You can translate from English to Spanish. Or, you can get really exotic and translate between Spanish and some other language that you may or may not know. The choice is yours depending on your needs.
So many learning options, so little time!
- You can look up the English definitions of Spanish words. This will help you understand precisely what they mean without the challenge of reading in Spanish.
- You can look up the Spanish definitions of English words. This will help you practice your reading. If you already know the word in English, you should have a basic idea of what it means, so the Spanish definition shouldn’t be too hard to follow.
- You can look up the Spanish definitions of Spanish words. This is the most immersive experience. Not only will it help you practice your reading, but reading the definitions in Spanish will help you think about the word’s meaning in Spanish. Thinking in Spanish is a key step towards fluency, so good for you! You deserve a gold star!
Translating from English to Spanish will help you learn new vocabulary words. Translating from Spanish to English will help you confirm that you know the precise meanings of the vocabulary words you already think you know. Translating between Spanish and Spanish (or a mystery third language) will help you do more all at once—this is the jackpot of learning!
You can also look up the English definitions of English words. But why would you want to do that, am I right?
Look up synonyms and antonyms
Many dictionaries offer lists of synonyms and antonyms of words. This is helpful for any Spanish learner.
You can look up synonyms to find words that have the same or similar meanings as your target word. You can look up antonyms to find words that have opposite meanings. Either option will help you build your vocabulary and develop a more complex and nuanced understanding of the language.
Review examples of usage
Most online dictionaries will offer up examples of usage for each word. This way, you can see how it works in context, which will help you seamlessly work it into your functional vocabulary.
Some dictionaries will provide conjugation charts for verbs. That’s right: conjugation charts. So if you need to conjugate a verb, an online dictionary can hook you up with any conjugation you can dream of.
See words in context
Learning doesn’t happen in a vacuum. To really learn the new words you find in dictionaries, it’s a good idea to learn them in context.
And to do that, you can use the authentic videos on FluentU.
The immersive, entertaining content makes grammar and vocabulary much more memorable.
Now, as you jump into the world of online Spanish dictionaries, you’ll want to visit the following websites…
5 Online Spanish Dictionaries to Define Your Learning
SpanishDict is an excellent option for anyone wanting to improve their Spanish. It provides comprehensive definitions for words, conjugations, usage examples, audio of the spoken word and sometimes even a video of someone speaking the word.
It’s very thorough—even experienced speakers will likely find new and exciting definitions and usages of words they thought they already knew.
If you don’t know where to start, you can look around the main homepage for lists of popular words, links to flashcard sets and access to helpful grammar guides. You can even go wild and create your own flashcard sets and share them with other users.
If you have any lingering questions, check out the forums to interact with other language learners.
SpanishDict also has an excellent (free!) app that shares many of the same features.
WordReference allows you to search for definitions, synonyms, translations or conjugations. Once you have the word plugged in, it also offers up examples of usage. It even provides links to questions in their forum that use the target word, so you can talk to others about the word and practice using it in context.
Surf over to the forums for even more learning opportunities. They have boards dedicated to vocabulary, grammar, specialized terminology and resources. Discussing Spanish with others is a great way for independent learners to get the benefits of conventional language classes.
You can also download their free app to your devices.
Oxford Dictionaries offers definitions and usage examples.
What really sets it apart, though, is that it offers audio as well as example sentences that take both Castilian Spanish and Latin American Spanish into account. This is helpful since the pronunciation or usage may vary on some words.
No particular word in mind? Look around the main page for helpful articles, word tables and the word of the day.
Like trending content? Check out their list of popular words.
Or, brush up your grammar with their grammar hub. The options are endless!
The Reverso website offers definitions, conjugations and usage examples. With a quick click, the website will even help you search the web for news stories, images and encyclopedia entries.
If that isn’t enough for you, you can also join their free community to build vocabulary lists, add entries to a user-built dictionary and keep track of your searches.
A new and exciting feature that you’ll also want to play around with is Reverso’s “Context” tab. Type in any word, and they’ll give you several different options with a context for each. It’s an easy way to see a lot of options at once. If you’re interested in helping shape the dictionary, you can even suggest your own examples.
If you like it, you can also try their free app!
El Mundo is predominantly dedicated to news, but it also offers a helpful dictionary. This website offers you the option to look up the definitions in exclusively Spanish, English or French (if you’re into that kind of thing). You can also look up synonyms, antonyms or medical terminology.
While you’re visiting El Mundo, you can also get a taste of Spanish culture. The website offers the weather, a guide to TV, traffic reports and even horoscopes, so look around a bit to snag some bonus learning.
So when you want to learn a new word, practice conjugations, see a word in context or just have a nerdy good time, try out one of these handy online Spanish dictionaries!
If you liked this post, something tells me that you'll love FluentU, the best way to learn Spanish with real-world videos.