As a proofreader, you may be proud of your vocabulary. But we all need to look up words now and then. And with that in mind, it pays to bookmark a few online dictionaries! Which are the best for hardworking proofreaders? Take your pick from the following…
Free Online Dictionaries
Of the major print dictionaries available online, Cambridge and Merriam-Webster stand out. The online Cambridge Dictionary covers British and American English, with definitions, examples, pronunciations, idioms, synonyms, and grammar advice all present.
As for dedicated online dictionaries, top choices include the Dictionary.com and the Free Dictionary. Dictionary.com – as well as having an enviable domain name – is easy to use and offers an excellent thesaurus. And in addition to a standard English dictionary and thesaurus, the Free Dictionary also features medical, legal, and financial dictionaries.
Other online dictionaries of note include:
- Macmillan (also includes a thesaurus and crowdsourced open dictionary)
- Collins (also includes a thesaurus and grammar guides)
- Lexico (a free online dictionary from the Oxford University Press)
You may have noticed the absence of the Oxford English Dictionary (OED) above. That’s because the OED is only available online with a subscription. However, it remains the foremost English historical dictionary, so it is worth the price for dedicated logophiles!
For those working with Australian English, meanwhile, the Macquarie Dictionary is a great resource. Again, though, it requires a subscription to use.
Legalese can be difficult to penetrate, but the following dictionaries will help:
- Legal Dictionary (one of the leading online legal dictionaries)
- Nolo’s Free Dictionary of Law Terms and Legal Definitions
- Wex (hosted by the Legal Information Institute at the Cornell Law School)
- Legal Dictionary of Law Terminology (a free glossary of legal terms)
Scientific and Medical Dictionaries
If you proofread scientific writing, you may find the following sites useful:
- The New Oxford Dictionary for Scientific Writers and Editors
- The Science Dictionary (a search engine for scientific terms)
- Online Science Dictionary (a glossary of scientific terms and definitions)
- Concise Medical Dictionary (contains over 12,000 entries)
- Medical Dictionary Online (includes a glossary and search function)
Other online dictionaries you may want to use include:
- Business Dictionary (a brilliant resource for business and financial jargon)
- Computer Dictionary of Information Technology (great for tech jargon)
- Online Etymology Dictionary (useful for understanding word origins)
- Acronym Finder (good for looking up unfamiliar abbreviations)
- The Phrase Finder (phrases and idioms defined and explained)
- Urban Dictionary (an extensive repository of slang, from the innocent to the adult)
Are there any online dictionaries you think we should include in this list? If so, leave a comment below to let us know. And don’t forget to check out our proofreading and editing courses.