Best Dictionary Reviews 2022

Dictionaries are considered to be personal items and some people can become so closely attached to their favorite copies of this most-referenced book. There are a few established guidelines on how to choose the right dictionary. First, you need to understand that they’re not all the same. Each type comes with its own peculiarities and characteristics, designed for different users. We’ve done the hard part for you by reviewing five of the best dictionary brands on the market. Read on!
TopProducts may earn commissions when you purchase through links on our site. Learn More.
Our Top Choice
Donald Venes’ Taber's 23rd Edition Cyclopedic Medical Dictionary
Donald J. Venes, together with expert editors and consultants from different medical professions, the Taber's Cyclopedic Medical Dictionary has the most current healthcare information.
More than 30,000 audio pronunciations. Small, but with amazing detail. One-year online access. Over 2500 pages of text.
Hard cover is not hard enough.
2560 pages
Hardcover and Kindle
23rd Edition
Audio pronunciations
Best Value
Scholastic 2013 Edition Children's Dictionary
Scholastic desires to encourage both the personal and intellectual growth of all kids, starting with literacy.
Perfect for students grades 3-6. Ten-page thesaurus. Uses photographs for illustrations. Current vernacular. Multiple world maps. Pronunciation guide.
Most appropriate for third-graders
864 pages
Grammar guide, thesaurus, idioms
Bryan A. Garner Black’s Law Dictionary
Bryan A. Garner has written many books on legislation, advocacy, and jurisprudence, including the Black’s Law Dictionary, which he re-researched and rewrote from top to bottom.
Over 19,000 definitions. Easy-to-use, concise and logical layout. Very informative. Compact format. Lightweight.
Missing some basic words
890 pages
Paperback or hardcover
5th Edition
Reference to cases
Merriam-Webster’s 11th Edition Collegiate Dictionary
All Merriam-Webster materials are backed by a large team of professional dictionary writers and editors in the U.S. – one of the largest teams in the world.
225,000 definitions, with more than 42,000 usage examples. Definitions are comprehensive and nuanced. Durable page paper. Free one-year online subscription.
Too big and heavy to carry around
1664 pages
Kindle, hardcover or paperback
11th Edition
Usage examples
W. E. Vine’s Old & New Testament Words Dictionary
W. E. Vine is a leading distributer of Christian materials, including books, catalogs, dictionaries, and magazines that span both the New Testament and Old Testament.
Explanations of over 6,000 major biblical words. Clarified by scripture passages and cross-reference.
Too detailed for general Bible study.
Hardcover or Kindle
Scripture passage/cross-reference

Related Reviews
Best Kids Dictionary
Best Picture Dictionary
Best Kids Encyclopedia
Best Biology Textbook
Watch Our Dictionary Review

What is the Best Dictionary?

One sure way of improving your command of the English language is by consistently referring to an authoritative resource. The dictionaries we’ve featured contain thousands of words alongside a collection of useful background materials. They are available in various editions suitable for a wide range of users, including youngsters, adults, students, and teachers. With that information in hand, it’s time to dive straight to our top picks and grab a copy.
Our Top Choice
Donald Venes’ Taber's 23rd Edition Cyclopedic Medical Dictionary comes with more than 30,000 audio pronunciations to help medical students and professionals build their speaking confidence. Would you like to give this dictionary as a gift? Go for the Taber's 23rd Edition Cyclopedic Medical Dictionary Deluxe Gift Edition Version, which has a leather cover, a ribbon bookmark, and gold leaf pages – an elegant and useful addition to your loved one’s bookshelf!

Donald Venes Taber's Cyclopedic Medical Dictionary (Thumb Index Version), 23rd Edition – Available in Kindle and Hardcover

Under the editorial leadership of Donald J. Venes, MD, a practicing internist at Sutter Coast Clinic, a team of expert editors and consultants from nearly every health care field has ensured that each and every edition of the Taber's Cyclopedic Medical Dictionary has content that reflects the most recent healthcare information.

With over 2500 pages of text and over 30,000 audio pronunciations, Donald Venes’ Taber's 23rd Edition Cyclopedic Medical Dictionary is indeed an ideal tool for the healthcare professional’s library. This version of Taber’s comes with a laminated cover, is more lightweight than previous editions for easy portability, and is ready to help healthcare students, as well as experienced professionals, master the ever-changing science and art of caring, and communicate with each other and their patients with coherence and precision.

Online, on your mobile phone, or in hand, Taber’s 23 is your all-round go-to source in the clinical practice, classroom, and beyond.

Here are more features that come with this dictionary:
  • Free Taber’s flash, with a flash card app to simplify studying
  • Easily accessible with mobile, web, and print platforms
  • Availability of flashcards, listen-and-learn activities, and crossword puzzles to cater to the needs of kinesthetic, visual, and auditory learners
  • Free one-year enrollment to Taber’s Online, with annual updates to put Taber’s knowledge at your fingertips
  • Over 60,000 reader-friendly definitions, with 7,000 revised terms and 3,000 brand-new ones
  • More than 1,200 images
  • More than 600 patient care statements
  • Resources and clinical tools in the appendices
  • Faster searches using stem-search technology
  • Easy-to-find discretion statements
  • DVD-direct access saves you space on the hard drive.
Best Value
Perfect for students in grades 3-6, and with the same formula as the 2010 edition, the Scholastic Children's Dictionary- 2013 Edition uses photographs for illustrations and includes current vernacular, such as “mosh pit” and “chat room.” Looking for a dictionary for your preschool kid instead? Check out the Scholastic First Dictionary for 4 – 8-year-olds, with 256 pages.

Scholastic Children's Dictionary- 2013 Edition (Hardcover)

Founded in 1920, Scholastic (NASDAQ: SCHL) began as a simple classroom magazine. Today, the company’s books and other educational materials are used in thousands of schools and millions of homes worldwide, opening a world of possibilities for kids across the globe.

Bright and colorful, the 2013 Edition of the Scholastic Children's Dictionary is a useful guide for students in grades 3-6 who are interested in improving their mastery of the English language. This dictionary contains quite a lot of information; kids are not only able to check the spelling of the word they are writing, but also understand the meaning of the word. It gives the pronunciation of the word, different tenses, as well as the parts of speech.

The best thing about the Scholastic Children's Dictionary is the fact that it has lots of words and sufficient definitions for them; also, the definitions are not complicated.

Here are the features that come with the Scholastic Children's Dictionary:
  • Focus on new technology terms
  • Exciting, brand-new cover
  • An extra 64 pages of fresh, new content
  • Expanded and improved geography segment, with flags of all 50 states and different countries of the world
  • Ten-page thesaurus
  • Hundreds of brand-new images
  • Features all Tier 2 frequently used Academic Vocabulary words.
  • Large, easy-to-read font
Bryan A. Garner’s Black’s Law Dictionary (5th Edition) comes with over 19,000 definitions drawn from the original Black’s Law Dictionary, making it an excellent reference tool for legal terminology in a compact version. Want something that will help you organize your appellate brief? Get Bryan A. Garner’s Making Your Case: The Art of Persuading Judges, available in Kindle, paperback, hardcover, and audio CD formats. 

Bryan A. Garner Black's Law Dictionary, Fifth Pocket Edition – Available in Paperback and Hardcover

Born November 17, 1958, Bryan A. Garner is an American lexicographer, teacher, and lawyer who has written over two dozen books on English style, usage, and advocacy. Bryan began writing his first book during the first week of his first year in law school. This book became known as Garner’s Dictionary of Legal Usage. Many books have since followed, including books on advocacy, legislation, jurisprudence, and even golf.

Bryan A. Garner’s 5th Pocket Edition of the Black’s Law Dictionary has become a top-selling law dictionary for a good reason. The dictionary draws over 19,000 definitions from the original Black’s Law Dictionary 10th edition, making it an essential reference tool in the legal profession, but in a more compact format. Whether you are a journalist, law student, lawyer, or just interested in knowing the accurate meaning of legal terms, this dictionary has clear and concise definitions of the terms that matter most.

The best thing about the pocket edition is that it’s lightweight and compact enough to fit in your briefcase; you can leave the larger dictionary at home or in the office and carry this one for quick reference. You also get to choose between the hardcover and paperback formats.
With over 225,000 definitions, coupled with more than 42,000 usage examples, Merriam-Webster’s 11th Edition Collegiate Dictionary is indeed a helpful resource for those looking to improve their understanding of the English language. Want something to help you in your Spanish class? We recommend the Webster's Spanish-English Dictionary, available in hardcover and paperback formats.

Merriam-Webster’s 11th Edition Collegiate Dictionary, Available in Kindle, Hardcover, and Paperback Formats

With over 150 years of experience, in print and now online, Merriam-Webster has established its name as America's leading and most-trusted service provider in print and now online language information. Their website offers guidance to over 40 million visitors every single month. Their publications in print materials include the Merriam-Webster's Collegiate Dictionary – one of the best-selling books in the history of America – and the newly published English dictionaries.

The Newly Revised & Updated Eleventh Edition of America's Best-Selling Merriam-Webster Dictionary features definitions for the current, active vocabulary of American English. It’s still being updated on an ongoing basis and features over 225,000 definitions and more than 42,000 examples of usage. Available in Kindle, hardcover, and paperback formats, the dictionary has incorporated newly added words and definitions spanning a variety of fields like entertainment, technology, science, health, and society.

This edition features special sections, including: A Handbook of Style, Geographical Names, Biographical Names, and Foreign Words and Phrases.

The electronic version of Merriam-Webster is a resourceful site with a complete dictionary and a fairly informative encyclopedia. The site offers a one-year online subscription to users from across the globe. The featured definitions are purely educational and straightforward. An additional "English-Spanish" section is useful for translating certain words and understanding verb conjugation. The "Medical" section helps to translate medical jargon into a layman's terms. Users also get to enjoy the age-appropriate games that are word-focused, which helps to improve vocabulary and memory. Sponsored and banner ads appear on every page of the site, which lure users off the site, occasionally redirecting them to iffy materials. However, these ads are necessary to keep your favorite reference website freely accessible.
With explanations of over 6,000 major biblical words, W. E. Vine’s Complete Expository Dictionary of Old and New Testament Words will indeed help you learn the Bible’s vocabulary, without the need to spend years learning Hebrew or Greek. An additional topical index is included. Looking for a dictionary that interprets the New Testament only? Get W. E. Vine’s Expository Dictionary of New Testament Words, available in hardcover format, with 351 pages.

W. E. Vine’s Complete Expository Dictionary of Old and New Testament Words, Available in Hardcover and Kindle Formats

W. E. Vine started from a humble beginning in the late 1970s and is today a leading resource in Christian books. They continue to distribute educational Christian books with an enormous selection at great value. With their strong customer service and support, the company continues to offer useful content, both online and in print copies.

With W. E. Vine’s Complete Dictionary of Old and New Testament Words, you can study the deeper meanings of Bible words in their original languages without spending several years learning Hebrew or Greek. Available in both Kindle and hardcover formats, this classic reference tool helps thousands to get a comprehensive understanding of the biblical text. With over 6,000 explanations of key biblical words and a whole new, detailed topical index, this book enables you to thoroughly study biblical topics like never before.

The book comes as a convenient single volume that combines the Unger and White Expository Dictionary, covering the Old Testament, and Vine's Expository Dictionary, which covers the New Testament words. You can seamlessly access the alphabetized English translations of Hebrew and Greek words as illustrated by the scripture passages, cross-references, comments, historical notes, precise etymologies, and technical information.

Each original language is properly indexed, and the extra topical index allows you to access all the entries in the dictionary that refer to specific ideologies and teachings of the New Testament. This is a great resource for pastors, students, and everyone who enjoys studying biblical words. It serves as a concordance, dictionary, and a commentary as well.

How Do I Choose the Best Dictionary?

A dictionary is an important book for teachers and students alike. Whether you’re looking to improve your command of the English language or you just want to look up the meaning of some rare or technical terms, a good dictionary is a must-have accompaniment, even for native speakers. Unlike shopping for a cookbook, the best approach when looking for the best dictionary is to go online or visit a physical bookshop and compare the different models on offer in terms of the number of words defined, how detailed the explanations are, and how practical the word use examples are.

Aside from just flicking through the copies, there are a couple of other key parameters to look for. First, at the mention of the word dictionary, many people think of bilingual dictionaries like French-English or German-English dictionaries. However, most learners’ dictionaries are monolingual (English-English), meaning that English words aren’t translated but rather defined and explained, and examples of sentence use are given. Some specialized monolingual dictionaries can become paramount when studying technical materials like nursing books.

The best monolingual dictionaries are by far more advanced than any bilingual dictionary you can find on the market. Take note of the technological advancements and check if the dictionary contains current buzzwords like tweet, social networking and so on.

Additionally, check if the dictionary is American, British, Canadian, Australian or some other variant. For teachers working overseas, it could be helpful to have a dictionary that includes both American and British English words and spellings. If students are going to use the dictionary on their own, consider models with phrasal verbs, idioms, and so on. A good dictionary should offer comprehensive word use analysis, as opposed to pictorial overviews like in the world atlas.

Since most users need dictionaries they can carry along to the office, classroom, or on a trip, portability is critical. But this may mean sacrificing comprehension for a small size. Perhaps going with a digital dictionary that you can carry on your smartphone will make better sense.

With that said, it’s time to delve deeper into the features to look for when shopping for a dictionary, and then you can jump straight to our individual reviews.
The most comprehensive dictionaries are not so expensively priced. With a budget of between about $12 and $35, you can find a good-quality dictionary, whether in print copy or an electronic app. The advantage with digital dictionaries is that you can carry them everywhere you go, through the convenience of your mobile device (laptop, tablet, or smartphone). Online dictionaries may be available for a yearly subscription fee or for free, and you can receive regular updates at no extra fee.

However, if you choose a print model for practicality reasons, you’ll still find a good-quality dictionary that will serve you for several years to come. We don’t recommend the very cheap dictionaries out there, since the integrity of their content may be questionable and the print models may be done on low-quality paper that may not stand the test of time or regular use.
Now, let’s look at the important features to look for in a dictionary:
  • Size – The smallest dictionaries that can fit into your pocket are great in terms of portability, but will only be useful for a quick check of the definitions and spellings of the most commonly used words. They are mini-books that easily fit in your pocket, purse or drawer, but some models will pack up to 40,000 entries and over 50,000 definitions. However, for serious work, you’ll need something bigger and more comprehensive.
  • Layout – You need a dictionary that lays out definitions, phonetic transcriptions, and sentence examples in a clean and readable way. Avoid models that overwhelm users with interface elements.
  • Example Sentences – Example sentences are quite critical components of a dictionary. These sentences should give a clear understanding of the definition, situations where native speakers apply the word, and what grammatical patterns appear with the word.
  • Number of Definitions – Check the total number of definitions contained in the dictionary and whether it describes the common situations and contexts in which the words are used.
  • Languages – Ask yourself whether you’re looking for an English-English dictionary or a dictionary that allows you to look up a word in your language and get translations to another language.
  • Scope – You can find general dictionaries or specialized dictionaries that include definitions and interpretation of technical terms in a particular field or specialty.
  • Additional Content – Some dictionaries feature extras like synonyms, pronunciation exercises, usage information, as well as relevant pictures.
Construction and Design
When you think about the serious dictionaries of the 21st century, you should picture a digital dictionary. In this age of ubiquitous laptops, tablets, smartphones, and netbooks, hardcover book dictionaries may quickly be fading away. These quaint relics used to go by the name “the Senior English Instructor,” and were used mainly by senior ladies to look up the meanings of English words. Just from their sheer weight (of the dictionary, not the old ladies) and the lengthy amount of time it takes to look up a word, there’s absolutely no reason for a serious learner of the English language to use one. Of course, some people still prefer the old, rugged method for use at home or in the office, but it surely comes with a lot of limitations.

If you prefer the old-school dictionaries, you can choose between hardcover and paperback. Hardcover dictionaries may cost a little bit more than paperback dictionaries, but will definitely last longer. Again, you should consider whether you need a dictionary that will stay open by itself, or you don’t mind holding the pages open as you read.

In digital formats, you can find several online dictionaries, some of which are free. Since publishers make money through books and CDs, their online dictionaries can be limited to some extent. Some models may lack recorded pronunciations, lack phonetic transcriptions, or offer fewer sentence examples.

Additionally, depending on your internet connection speed, an online dictionary can be slower, compared to a digital dictionary installed on your computer or smartphone. It’s not just about the page loading time, but also the interface that requires more looking around and clicking to get the meaning of a word. This can sometimes slow you down or even hurt your motivation.

So, online dictionaries can be great for searching for some extra information about a word, say, when you want to see more examples of word use or double-check a pronunciation. However, for serious everyday use, nothing beats a good software dictionary. So, it’s a good idea to go for digital dictionaries available on CDs or DVDs.
Performance and Ease of Use
A good dictionary should be user-friendly. If it’s a digital model, the software should enable you to perform common tasks like looking up words, playing a recording, and much more, without unnecessary clicking. You should be able to access all the important features, including copy and paste, and other input operations (drag and drop, standard keys, scrolling with the mouse wheel, etc.).

In terms of responsiveness, the software should load and scroll without annoying delays. The search engine should return relevant search results for words with many spellings or word combinations. For instance, if you’re searching for the word “hard-pressed” but mistakenly typed “hard pressed,” the phrase you’re looking for should return in the search results.

It’s important to note that there are dictionaries for learners and dictionaries for native speakers. Americans, Britons, etc. use dictionaries for native speakers to look up the meanings and uses of rare words like tintinnabulation, inextricable, and those you probably wouldn’t know how to pronounce. On the other hand, dictionaries for learners are used by individuals and students learning English as a second language.

Get the Best Dictionary of 2022!

Very few, if any, teachers can explain the meaning of a word like a great dictionary. Dictionaries can give clear definitions, comprehensive information and pronunciation, and above all, carefully chosen usage examples of the words. But finding the best dictionary that suits your needs may not be a walk in the park. Hopefully, you managed to find an ideal dictionary from our list. If you didn’t, there are still numerous options from these brands that you can check out for a perfect match.

Our Top Choice
Donald Venes’ Taber's 23rd Edition Cyclopedic Medical Dictionary
Best Value
Scholastic 2013 Edition Children's Dictionary
Bryan A. Garner Black’s Law Dictionary
Merriam-Webster’s 11th Edition Collegiate Dictionary
W. E. Vine’s Old & New Testament Words Dictionary