How to Use Dictionary in iPhone?

iPhone has many dictionary apps both for free and paid. However, you do not need to install any app in order to find the dictionary meaning or words. Your iPhone comes with built-in “New Oxford American Dictionary” for English language. In addition, you can also add other language dictionaries like British English, French or German. In this article, we will explore how to use dictionary in iPhone.

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Look Up Meaning of Words

When reading webpages or documents, you may encounter many words that you do not know the actual meaning. Understanding the definition of unknown words is a good and easy way of improving your language vocabulary. In order to get a meaning or definition of any word, simply tap and hold a word till it gets highlighted and tap on “Look Up”.

Select Look Up
Select Look Up

This will show you a slide up windows with the definition of the highlighted word from the New Oxford American Dictionary.

View Meaning from Dictionary
View Meaning from Dictionary

Tap on the definition to read more details of the word like the meaning as noun and verb along with origin, usage, derivatives and other details.

View Detailed Meaning of Verb and Noun
View Detailed Meaning of Verb and Noun

Tap on “Done” to close the dictionary and continue your reading.

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Using Define in Pages and Word

Apple shows the look up option in apps like Mail, Notes and Safari. However, when you are in Pages or Microsoft Word document, you will see other option named as “Define”.

  • “Define” works similar to “Look Up”.
  • Tap on a word to highlight and choose “Define”.
Define Option in iPhone Pages
Define Option in iPhone Pages
  • This will show the definition in slightly different window compared to “Look Up”.
Results of Define Option
Results of Define Option

Define Vs Look Up

Earlier Apple was using “Define” as a standard way to find the meaning from dictionary. However, Apple changed this with iOS 10 and replaced “Define” with “Look Up” option. Unfortunately, these two options still exist and also works bit differently.

  • You can find the “Manage” and “Search Web” options on the bottom of “Define” windows instead of inside the window as shown in “Look Up”.
  • In addition, you can select any word within the “Define” dictionary definition and tap on “Look Up” to find further meaning. However, you can’t select the word to find further meaning from “Look Up” results.
  • Apple allows you to copy the “Define” results and paste it on your documents. You can do this on Pages, Microsoft Word or with any other documents app on your iPhone. However, you can’t copy the result from “Look Up”.

That’s bit confusing though, you can use the available option to find the meaning depending on the app you use.

Other Details About Using Dictionary

  • Dictionary look up will work on all major apps like Mail, Safari and Notes.
  • It is possible to get the meaning of words from multiple dictionaries. You can find the definition from all the available dictionaries on your iPhone.
  • Apple also offers translated dictionaries like German-English.
  • The dictionary will also show you other relevant meanings of the selected word. For example, biography or information from Wikipedia.
  • In addition to single word, you can also find the meaning of short phrases. You can drag the highlighted cursor to select the phrase and tap on “Look Up” to fin the meaning of that phrase.
  • When you are using documents, you can copy the definition from the dictionary using “Define” and paste it on your documents if required. This will help if you are collecting the words for your vocabulary or want to instantly refer the meaning on your documents.
  • If you are not finding the meaning or want to get additional details (especially on phrases), tap on “Search Web” option. This will open the word or phrase on your favorite search engine on Safari browser. If you are already on the Safari browser, it will open in a new tab. You can check and get the details from third-party websites.

Add Other Dictionaries in iPhone

As mentioned, by default your iPhone will show the definition from the New Oxford American Dictionary on standard English language. You have to add additional dictionaries if you don’t want to use the default one. In addition, if you are using the dictionary for the first time, you may need to add the dictionary to start with.

  • Select a word and tap on “Look Up” or “Define” option to open dictionary.
  • Select the last option showing “Manage Dictionaries” or choose “Manage” from the bottom.
  • Alternatively, you can go to “Settings” app and tap on “Dictionary” option available under “General” section.
Dictionary Settings in iPhone
Dictionary Settings in iPhone
  • You will find the list of all available dictionaries including Apple Dictionary.
Adding Dictionary in iPhone
Adding Dictionary in iPhone
  • Tap on the dictionary you want to get the definition of words. iPhone will download the dictionary files instantly. Again, you will see a slightly different screen with iCloud download button when you navigate from “Define” option compared to “Look Up” option.
  • You can select multiple dictionaries to get the definition from all of them.

Deleting Dictionaries

it is not a good idea to keep lots of dictionaries in the list and look up the meaning of a single word in different dictionaries. When you find your favorite dictionary, start using that one and delete remaining all options from the list.

  • In order to delete a dictionary, go to “Settings > General > Dictionary” and deselect the dictionaries that you want to remove from the list.
  • If you navigate from “Define > Manage Dictionaries” option then simply slide left and choose “Delete” to remove the dictionary from the list.
Delete Dictionary from List
Delete Dictionary from List

Translation and Dictionaries

The best part of iPhone dictionary is that you have also dictionaries with translation. This will greatly help you to improve your language learning skills. You can select one of the below translation dictionaries available on your iPhone.

  • Chinese, Simplified – English
  • Chinese, Traditional – English
  • Arabic – English
  • Dutch – English
  • French – English
  • German – English
  • Hindi – English
  • Italian – English
  • Japanese – English
  • Korean – English
  • Portuguese – English
  • Russian – English
  • Spanish – English
  • Thai – English
  • Vietnamese – English

You can also use non-English dictionaries like German or French on iPhone with English language. However, you can install the required keyboard layout from “Settings > General > Keyboard” section to type the words easily. Below is an example of the dictionary result for a Chinese word in English.

Dictionary Meaning with Translation
Dictionary Meaning with Translation

Final Words

You can use the “Look Up” or “Define” options to find the meaning of words and improve your language skills. In addition, you can use other language dictionaries with translation to learn the meaning of words quickly.

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