Online dictionaries

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 because I’m now actually paying for dictionary subscriptions you will also find a few paid resources.

General search tools

  • Linguee: English-French dictionary. (n.d.). Cologne, Germany: Linguee. Retrieved from

    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.

  • term search. (n.d.). Retrieved from



  • Lin, Y. (Ed.). (1999/1972). Lin Yutang’s Chinese-English dictionary of modern usage. Hong Kong: Chinese University Press. Retrieved from

    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

    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

    Always access this dictionary through, 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
  • China National Committee for Terms in Sciences and Technologies. (n.d.). TermOnline. Retrieved from

    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

    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

    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

    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
  • Public Works and Government Services Canada. (2017). TERMIUM Plus. Retrieved from

    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).

Style guides

Specialized dictionaries

(This section has not yet been cleaned up.)

Other guides

(This section has not yet been cleaned up.)

Data sets

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>