Top & Best English dictionary Review 2021- How to Select Ultimate Buyer’s Guide

English dictionary: How to choose the best model in 2021

Today we are going to talk about the English dictionary, an important consultation tool in studies, as it informs the meaning of the word, spelling and correct pronunciation.

The market offers many English dictionary options: monolingual, bilingual, thematic, illustrated, among others. But after all, what should be analyzed when choosing an English dictionary? Keep reading this article and find out.

First, the most important

  • The bilingual English dictionary is divided into two parts: English / Portuguese and Portuguese / English. This version is ideal for students at a basic level.
  • The monolingual English dictionary does not present the meanings of words, but their definitions. It is ideal for students at intermediate and advanced levels.
  • In addition to the general-purpose English dictionary, you will find thematic versions: Idioms, grammar, Phrasal Verbs, common English errors, business, slang, among others.

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The best English dictionaries: Our suggestions

To acquire a repertoire in the English language, it is essential to invest in a good English dictionary. Next, find out the best models, recommended for students at different levels of knowledge.

  • English dictionary for basic students
  • The best seller in the market
  • English dictionary for intermediate or advanced students

Buying Guide

Investing in an English dictionary is essential for anyone who wants to become fluent in that language. However, it is necessary to buy a dictionary appropriate to your level of knowledge.

To make the most of this tool, it is important to know how to use a dictionary in the right way. And as with any other book, it should be read carefully. Want to know more about it? Read this Buying Guide.

Is it still worth buying a physical English dictionary?

Some people spend years studying the English language without having an English dictionary. Many use only Google Translate, unaware that the dictionary is a much more complete study tool, as it provides:

    • The spelling and the correct pronunciation of the words.
    • The grammatical class (noun, adjective, verb, adverb, preposition, among others).
    • Translation (if the dictionary is bilingual) or definition (if the dictionary is monolingual).
    • Figures illustrating some of the definitions (only in the illustrated dictionary).
    • Examples of how to use the word in sentences.


The more examples you find of how to use a particular word or phrase in formal and informal contexts, the better the dictionary, as the definition alone is not enough to establish an understanding of what you are studying.

English dictionary: Bilingual or monolingual?

There are two types of English dictionary: bilingual and monolingual. The bilingual dictionary is ideal for those who are starting to learn English, as it has an English / Portuguese and Portuguese / English format. This format makes it easier to find words and their meanings.

The only problem with the bilingual dictionary is that sometimes the exact meaning of the word is a little different from that indicated. In addition, students can rely more on translation than thinking about the foreign language.

The monolingual dictionary is entire in English. Instead of presenting meanings, it shows the definitions of the words, besides offering several examples of how to use the word or expression in a natural way.

This model is ideal for students at intermediate and advanced levels, as it encourages the student to think in English.

Which English dictionary format is right for you?

In addition to the traditional printed dictionary, you can find the English dictionary in different formats. To choose the ideal, it is necessary to assess the needs and preferences.

Software to install on your computer. It has the same information as the printed dictionary, the difference is the possibility of reproducing the words in audio (ideal for learning the correct pronunciation).

Application has the same features as the software, the advantage is that you can download it on mobile devices like smartphone , tablet or e-reader and take it anywhere. Operation can be only online or online and offline.

Choose apps from known sources to ensure the quality of the information. The application is usually paid for, but updates are free.

Electronic dictionary: You find the bilingual and monolingual versions. It is useful, as it presents the pronunciation of words in audio, which facilitates assimilation.

Online dictionary: You can find excellent English dictionary options online and most are free. Just beware of online dictionaries that allow users to write word definitions themselves.

What is the best English dictionary for children?

The best English dictionary for children is the illustrated version, which is designed to meet the needs and difficulties that children encounter in their first contact with the foreign language.


This dictionary presents common words in everyday life.

In addition to the playful illustrations that facilitate understanding and memorization, the choice of words is made with care, that is, this dictionary presents common words in everyday life. Next to each word, the comparative and superlative forms of the terms are presented.

Another difference is the examples, which facilitate the understanding and application of the terms learned, in addition to thematic tables, which enable the expansion of the vocabulary tables, lists and maps. The core is in two colors, one tone for Portuguese / English and another for English / Portuguese.

How to use an English dictionary?

First look for the word according to alphabetical order, when you find it, analyze the category of that word – noun, adjective, verb, adverb or preposition – and check the pronunciation.

If the word is a noun, check whether it is countable or uncountable (indicated by the letter U for uncountable ). Also analyze the examples of the word in sentences.



A tip for choosing a good dictionary is to select a term that you know and compare the meaning / definition in the chosen dictionaries to analyze which one is more complete and appropriate.


What is the best English dictionary: Longman, Oxford or Cambridge?

Both dictionaries are excellent, and you will find options in the beginner (Learners Dictionary) and advanced (Advanced Dictionary) categories. However, each of them is indicated for a certain purpose:

Longman: It is ideal for those who want to study the language. You find versions for different levels of knowledge. Accompanies CD-ROM with study activities.

Cambridge: Ideal for those who are preparing to take masters and doctorate exams. It has a free online version.

Oxford: Ideal for those who want to study the origin of words. It also features a free online platform.

How much does it cost and where to buy an English dictionary?

A good English dictionary costs from R $ 25.00, you can find several options between R $ 40 and R $ 70 and more expensive models exceed R $ 100. You can find the best dictionaries in bookstores.

If you prefer, you can buy the product online, the best online stores are:

    • Amazon Brazil



Purchasing Criteria: Factors for comparing English dictionary models

Now that you know that the English dictionary is an essential tool for learning the language, a question arises: How to choose a good English dictionary? Keep reading to know what to evaluate at the time of purchase.

  • Knowledge level
  • Year of issue
  • Graphic quality
  • CD-ROM
  • Special Editions

We will explain each of the items throughout this section. But know, there is no better or worse English dictionary, but what your learning needs are.

Knowledge level

To choose a good English dictionary it is essential to take into account the student’s level of knowledge. For students at a basic level, a bilingual dictionary (English-Portuguese) is ideal. Look for “Learner Dictionary”.

From the intermediate level, the student must use a monolingual dictionary (English-English), to effectively approach contact with the foreign language. Look for “Advanced Dictionary”. This model brings a relevant range of information:

  • Definition and pronunciation
  • Context of formal and informal use
  • Comparison with other words

The best bilingual and monolingual dictionaries are: Cambridge, Longman, Oxford and Michaelis.

Year of issue

One of the most important factors in choosing an English dictionary is the year of publication. Avoid buying a dictionary with an edition before 2007, as they are well out of date, due to changes in spelling.

Over the years, new words, expressions and slang are integrated into Portuguese and English and added to dictionaries.

Give preference to buy a dictionary with the indication of “new edition” – information on the cover – or check the year of edition on the back cover, where all the technical information of the publication is located.

Graphic quality

It is also important to analyze the graphical quality of the dictionary before purchasing it. Check that the paper is of good quality, that the font size is easy to read, and that it is easy to handle.

Also, evaluate the binding (hard or soft cover) and dimensions of the book – you find the English dictionary in traditional or pocket version. Some dictionaries feature illustrations, an excellent resource if you learn better with visual associations than just reading.


Some English dictionary models come with a CD-ROM, which can be used to search for words much more simply, to hear the correct pronunciation of words – in American and British English – and to record and compare your pronunciation with those on the CD.

The CD-ROM also has some interactive activities.

The CD-ROM also has some interactive activities, which will further expand the possibilities of using your English dictionary and facilitate individual studies. Usually, a dictionary with CD-ROM has the highest cost, however, the investment is worth it.

Special Editions

In addition to the English dictionary in bilingual and monolingual versions, you can find versions for use in specific areas such as business, law, marketing, science, among others – with vocabulary and expressions specific to these areas of knowledge.


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