When you learn a language, it is essential to have a good dictionary at hand. As you know, on the Internet you can find a vast range of practically anything, and it is also true for dictionaries. A good dictionary though, must be clear, easy to understand and complete. In this guide we’ll look at the best Italian dictionaries available online.
If you’ve been studying Italian for a while, and feel up to it, I strongly recommend using an Italian-Italian dictionary, which is what an Italian person would do when looking for the meaning of a word. Here you will not find the translation of a word, but its explanation in Italian, which will help you develop your language skills more rapidly and build a vaster vocabulary! If you’ve never used an Italian-Italia dictionary, try it out! It will be easier and clearer than you think. Here are the best available online:
This dictionary has been created by the Treccani Institute and is unquestionably the most prestigious and authoritative source.
The page is simple. When you digit the word you are looking for in the searchbox, a list of items will appear, so that you can select the closest entry. You will also be able to search things within the dictionary, encyclopedia, synonyms and contraries and others. Sometimes though, it can be so complete that it becomes confusing!
Il Corriere della Sera is an Italian daily paper. On their website, you can find the Sabatini-Colletti dictionary. Its authors are recognized as absolute authorities in the field. This is a great resource if you want to go from word, to sentence, to text; here you’ll be able to check the construction of sentences with the words you’re interested in. It is very clear, complete, and easy to understand and use.
Repubbica is another important daily newspaper in Italy. Its website offers the Grande Dicxionario, the work of famous author Aldo Gabrielli, published by Hoepli. In its introduction, it lists:
- 500 000 items, meanings and definitions
- Synonyms, antonyms, etymologies
- Scientific terminology, from information technology to economics
- Regional words, dialects, slang and colloquial words in the common language
- Foreign words and locutions in everyday language
- Archaic and literary terms
- Neologisms and new meanings of words of the traditional linguistic heritage
This website is owned by the publishing house De Agostini, which is an authority in the publication of school textbooks, encyclopedias and dictionaries.
On this page, you will find an Italian-Italian dictionary and other bilingual dictionaries: Italian-English, Italian-German, Italian-French, Italian-Spanish, Italian-Portuguese, Italian-Polish, Italian-Tagalog, Italian- Albanese and Italian-Turkish.
It is a good starting point if you still need to work up the courage to use an Italian only dictionary!
Of course, when it comes to bilingual dictionaries, it all depends on your native language! I am sure that, if you’ve been studying Italian for a while, you probably have scoured the Internet for the best dictionaries available in your language. Here, I’ll leave you some of the best Italian-English resources:
This is one of the best known bilingual dictionaries online. It offers Italian-English and Italian-Spanish dictionaries, as well as Italian definitions. They also have a useful Forum section in which you can ask for clarifications if you don’t understand or haven’t found something. Mobile app available.
- Collins English-Italian Dictionary
A simple and straight-forward online tool. Simply enter the word in the search box and find what you’re looking for! It also offers a translation tool and thesaurus.
- Oxford Italian Dictionary App
Available for download both for iOS and Android. You can get a trial version of this app (online only) for free, and, if you like it, you can download and have access to its 450,000 total translations of 300,000 words and phrases everywhere you go, offline.
These deserve a special section. If you are just beginning to study Italian, translation tools can be very useful and they will save you some time! The most used ones for Italian are:
- Google translate
Who doesn’t know Google translate? This tool provides translation in 97 languages. Here you can also listen to the pronunciation words, both in Italian and in the other language. With a specific icon, you’ll also be able to use the keyboard in the language you wish, which is very useful to write special characters or accents!
Translation service in 52 languages. Sound not available.
There are many other translation tools available online, but there is something even more interesting. These are called contextual dictionaries and are a very interesting combination between a translation tool and a dictionary.
Here you are able to select the language pair you’re interested in (Italian-English, Italian-Spanish, Italian-German, etc.) and enter clusters of words and even short sentences. The contextual dictionary will look for results within a database of translated texts and, as you can probably guess from its name, show you the result within the context.
These are great tools to find idioms, conversational expressions and the meaning of words in context.
The best are:
This is probably the best and most famous contextual translation tool online. It offers a wide range of services and is clear and easy to use. It offers the main European languages and also some less obvious ones like Turkish, Japanese and Hebrew. You can visualize the language keyboard, listen to the pronunciation of words and look for synonyms. All of this while seeing the word or sentence you looked for in various contexts. It also has a free app that you can download on your smartphone to have it always with you. Pretty amazing!
Linguee is very similar to Reverso, and it also offers a free app. On the same website you’ll find a pretty good translation tool. On Linguee you can find Italian paired with most European languages, but it does not offer all the extra features of Reverso.
If you’ve never used a contextual dictionary, I highly recommend you try them out. They are game changers in language learning and translation!