I tend to avoid general bilingual dictionaries. It’s better to rely only on them only to jog your memory, then use a monolingual dictionary and maybe a thesaurus to zero in on the right word.
This is mostly a list of resources I personally use, but it has not been updated for some years so it no longer reflects what I’m currently using. I used to list only free resources here, but I’m now also using some paid resources so you will also find a few paid resources too.
General search tools
Linguee: English-French dictionary. (n.d.). Cologne, Germany: Linguee. Retrieved from http://linguee.com
It calls itself an English-French dictionary, but it’s actually neither English/French (specifically) nor a dictionary. What it is is a general parallel corpus search tool for you to figure out (using your own judgement) an appropriate translation.
- O’Toole, G. (n.d.). Quote investigator. Retrieved from https://quoteinvestigator.com
- ProZ.com term search. (n.d.). Retrieved from http://www.proz.com/search/
The American heritage dictionary of the English language (5th ed.). (2017). Boston, MA: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. Retrieved from https://ahdictionary.com
This is a new resource that I haven’t personally tried, but it was recommended on CE-L.
- Film Reference Library. (n.d.). Canadian film encyclopedia. Retrieved from http://legacy.tiff.net/canadianfilmencyclopedia/
- Collins dictionary. (n.d.). Glasgow, UK: HarperCollins. Retrieved from http://collinsdictionary.com
- The free dictionary. (n.d.). Huntingdon Valley, PA: Farlex. Retrieved from http://tfd.com
- The Geordie dictionary. (n.d.). Retrieved from https://www.bedlington.co.uk/forums/topic/4577-the-geordie-dictionary/
Green, J. (2016). Green’s Dictionary of Slang. London, UK: Abecedary. Retrieved from https://greensdictofslang.com
This is a new resource that I haven’t personally tried, but it was recommended on CE-L.
- Harper, D. (2017). Online etymology dictionary. Retrieved from http://www.etymonline.com
Herbermann, C. G. et al. (Ed.). (1913).
Retrieved from http://www.newadvent.org/cathen
Arguably dated, but it’s still often very useful.
Johnson, S. (1756). A dictionary of the English language (3rd ed.). Retrieved from http://www.whichenglish.com/Johnsons-Dictionary/
This can be useful for 18th century English. Mentioned by Eve B. in TCTerms.
Merriam-Webster Collegiate Dictionary. (n.d.). Springfield, MA: Merriam-Webster. Retrieved from http://unabridged.merriam-webster.com Merriam-Webster Collegiate Thesaurus. (n.d.). Springfield, MA: Merriam-Webster. Retrieved from http://unabridged.merriam-webster.com Merriam-Webster Unabridged. (n.d.). Springfield, MA: Merriam-Webster. Retrieved from http://unabridged.merriam-webster.com
($$$) These are what I currently use the most often for English. Note that the Collegiate has definitions that the Unabridged doesn’t have, so the Unabridged isn’t really unabridged and you should always check both. (I often don’t heed my own advice.)
- Oxford University Press. (n.d.). Oxford Art Online. Retrieved from http://www.oxfordartonline.com
- Oxford University Press. (2017). Oxford English Dictionary. Retrieved from http://www.oed.com
Princeton University. (2010). WordNet. Retrieved from http://wordnetweb.princeton.edu/perl/webwn
I still find this useful and use it, even though I now have a subscription of Merriam-Webster Collegiate Thesaurus.
Urban Dictionary. (n.d.). Retrieved from http://www.urbandictionary.com
Lin, Y. (Ed.). (1999/1972). Lin Yutang’s Chinese-English dictionary of modern usage. Hong Kong: Chinese University Press. Retrieved from http://humanum.arts.cuhk.edu.hk/Lexis/Lindict/
I would consider this primarily a historical dictionary and I hardly ever use it. Translations are often too literal, but it can still be useful when you run out of ideas.
Matsumura, A. (Ed.) (n.d.) デジタル大辞泉 [Digital Daijisen]. Tokyo, Japan: Shogakukan. Retrieved from http://dictionary.goo.ne.jp
This is a Japanese, not Chinese, dictionary. However, the large number of cognates in Japanese makes it useful for jogging your memory.
- Ministry of Education, ROC. (2015). 重編國語辭典 [Revised dictionary of the national language]. Retrieved from http://dict.revised.moe.edu.tw
Always access this dictionary through moedict.tw, as the official site has an extremely clunky user interface (and it gets clunkier with each update). Although its editors have decided this is primarily a historical dictionary, it’s still by far the most credible monolingual Chinese dictionary you can find online. It has somewhat of a Taiwanese focus, so non-Taiwanese terms can be lacking. It’s also unfortunate to be typographically different from the hard-copy version, so even for Taiwanese usage its orthography is not always historically accurate.
- Cambridge Dictionary: Make your words meaningful. (n.d.). Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press. Retrieved from http://dictionary.cambridge.org
China National Committee for Terms in Sciences and Technologies. (n.d.). TermOnline. Retrieved from http://www.termonline.cn/
Vetted database of scientific terminology for Mainland Chinese (zh-CN). Useful, but appears to be very incomplete.
Civil Service Bureau, Hong Kong. (n.d.). Glossaries of terms commonly used in government departments. Retrieved from http://eglossary.csb.gov.hk/glossary_tc.php
Vetted database for general terminology for Hong Kong Chinese (zh-HK). You’ll need to exercise some judgment though, since ultimately its content is government-speak. but it’s relatively credible and it covers a wide range of subjects. The interface is kind of clunky (perhaps a problem common to government-maintained dictionaries), but not as bad as the official version of the Revised Dictionary of National Language.
Congregation of the Disciples of the Lord. (2001). 天主教英漢袖珍辭典 [Mini English-Chinese Catholic dictionary]. Retrieved from http://stteresa.catholic.org.hk/catechumenate/dictionary/.
This is the first part of the actual dictionary; the appendices are missing. If you have the actual hardcopy dictionary you’ll want that, but this is still better than nothing if you don’t have a proper Catholic dictionary (NB Protestant dictionaries will not do, as the terminology is virtually entirely different). The actual dictionary (which I don’t have but have seen) is quite small so obviously it’s not very comprehensive or detailed.
National Academy for Educational Research. (n.d.). 雙語詞彙、學術名詞暨詞書資訊網 [Bilingual glossaries, academic terms and dictionary]. Retrieved from http://terms.naer.edu.tw
Vetted database of scientific terminology for Taiwanese Chinese (zh-TW). I have used this in a comparative editing project and found that some terms do not seem to be correct in non-academic contexts.
- Office québécois de la langue française. (n.d.). Grand dictionnaire terminologique. Retrieved from http://gdt.oqlf.gouv.qc.ca
Public Works and Government Services Canada. (2017). TERMIUM Plus. Retrieved from http://www.btb.termiumplus.gc.ca/tpv2alpha/alpha-eng.html?lang=eng
Vetted database of scientific and other terminology for Canadian English and Canadian French. Even if you don’t work with French this is very useful because it can tell you how a particular term is spelt and capitalized (by the government).
(This section has not yet been cleaned up.)
- Public Works and Government Services Canada Translation Bureau. (1997). The Canadian style: A guide to writing and editing. Retrieved from http://www.btb.termiumplus.gc.ca/tpv2guides/guides/tcdnstyl/index-eng.html
James Cook University. (n.d.). Referencing. Retrieved August 22, 2017 from http://libguides.jcu.edu.au/c.php?g=162333
I used to refer to this but no longer.
Graebner, C. (2017). Citing Canadian government documents: APA style.
Retrieved August 22, 2017 from
Mentioned by A. Curry on EAC-ACR-L.
- Yin, K. (n.d.) Conscious style guide. Retrieved from http://consciousstyleguide.com
- Univesity of Chicago Press. (2003). Indexing: A chapter from the Chicago manual of style (15th ed.). Retrieved from http://www.press.uchicago.edu/Misc/Chicago/CHIIndexingComplete.pdf
- Carnegie Mellon University. (n.d.). The CMU Pronouncing Dictionary [Data set]. Retrieved from http://www.speech.cs.cmu.edu/cgi-bin/cmudict
Terminology discussion forums
Copyediting-L [CE-L] (Mailing list). (n.d.). Available at http://copyediting-l.info
Discussion in English on questions related to English. Low to moderate traffic with high-traffic bursts.
EAC-ACR-L (Mailing list). (n.d.). Toronto, Canada: Editors’ Association of Canada. Available at http://editors.ca
Discussion in English or French on questions related to English. However, most of the discussion is in (and on) English. Members-only and very low traffic.
Editors’ Association of Earth [EAE] (Facebook group). (n.d.). Retrieved from https://facebook.com/groups/EditorsofEarth/
Discussion in English on questions mostly related to English. Discussion on non-English terminology happens but rare. High traffic. Related to about a dozen affiliated but more specialized discussion groups.
TCTerms (Discussion forum). (n.d.). Mississauga, Canada: TranslatorsCafe.com. Retrieved from https://translatorscafe.com/tcterms/
Although TCTerms is technically a question-and-answer forum, the English-to-English forum (where you ask questions in English about English) actually functions more like a normal discussion forum. Low to moderate traffic.