Dictionaries! Part Two: Best French Dictionary

For part one of the series, click here.


Now, I love Collins Easy Learning French dictionary as much as anyone who has completed a French GCSE this century, but once you get to ‘A’ level and beyond, you soon realise that you need something a bit meatier. Like with Arabic, I will start with a brief overview of the paper dictionaries I (occasionally) use, but, as with Arabic, I normally find that online resources save me time. So what is the best French dictionary out there?


This is a lovely bilingual dictionary. I actually got this particular copy just before I started my ‘A’ levels (which I will reluctantly admit was almost 10 years ago now…) and therefore it is probably a little out of date, but I still find it useful sometimes when I can’t find a definitive answer online.


Despite the fact that I actually only bought this as a university student, I could only afford a secondhand copy and thus this one is over 20 years old…phew. So again, could possibly do with updating. This is a monolingual dictionary and, again, is really useful when the online resources I regularly use aren’t coming up with the goods.


  • linguee.com : a really useful resource that combines the wonderful web-searching power of reverso context (as mentioned in my previous post about dictionaries. There is also a useful French version of reverso context!) with a dictionary, so you get both a dictionary definition and examples in context of how it’s used. You can search single words or whole phrases.
  • reverso context
  • wordreference: a fantastic dictionary (which caters for lots of different language combinations!) which also has a section where you can ask other users of the site questions about tricky terms/phrases which are not included on the site itself.
  • bilingual visual dictionary : made by DK, like the Arabic one, you can get a paper version, but I discovered this free PDF a while back. While I haven’t actually used it for translation, it’s been a great resource for teaching vocabulary to my French students.

Another fantastic resource for translators that can’t really be classed as a dictionary is the ‘ask‘ section on proz.com. You have to sign up for a free account first and then you can ask the hive mind of other translators on the website to help you with problem phrases!

So, are you a paper or an online dictionary fan? Have you used any of the resources I’ve mentioned in these posts? Or maybe you know of some other fantastic resources? Let me know in the comments or through social media (you can find my handles in the contact menu at the top right of the page) 

Published by verityroat

Verity Roat BA CANTAB MA TRANSLATION CIOL Career Associate is a UK-based Arabic and French > English translator, Copy-writer, Copy-editor, Transcriber, Role-player & Tutor.

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