Posted by  in Blog.

What trust-worthy and free references do translators often consult? Here are my favourite free and online bilingual dictionaries. I will also voice reservation about some less trust-worthy sources. Have a great read!


Bilingual and Multilingual Dictionariesdreamstime_xs_22811496

The Office québécois de la langue française’s dictionary is available in English and French; the dictionary also provides Spanish equivalents for some entries. In addition to being the standard for words used in Québec, this dictionary allows you to search for results according to domain.

This is another indispensable tool for all translators. It is useful for translating technical terms in various domains.

Collins is an excellent multilingual dictionary. I like it a lot because it has many idiomatic expressions.

Larousse is my favourite free bilingual dictionary. Comprehensive definitions are a great help for translators and writers to carry out their work.

All users can take part in forums on this site. The forums have one drawback, though: most users are not translators; answers users provide might lead you astray. Users often forget to mention their country of origin to readers. This means you must always check proposed translations to ensure they’re suitable for your target text and country.


Machine Translation & Other Less Trust-Worthy Sources

Reverso provides monolingual and bilingual dictionaries, and a machine translation dialogue box for complete sentences. With respect to monolingual dictionaries, definitions found therein are too short to be considered comprehensive. The dictionaries don’t give examples of queried terms in sentences; they don’t even provide synonyms and antonyms to allow us to fully understand the meaning of terms. Bilingual dictionaries neither provide definitions nor regionalisms. Reverso is not my favourite dictionary. I use it only when I can’t find a word elsewhere. Never say never!


Remember that Google Translate and Babel Fish ARE NOT RELIABLE SOURCES! All translators worthy of the name never use these websites that offer free machine translations. Although these tools have improved during the last decade, they will never replace experienced translators. Translation blogs make fun of bizarre translations provided by machine translators of complete paragraphs. If you want a laugh out of these crazy translations, visit (in French only).

If some of you feel like telling me that I forgot about TransSearch, My Memory Translated, and Linguee, these tools are not dictionaries; instead, they are concordancers. I will talk about concordancers in another entry.


Remember that many reference materials are available in paper format. Although you must pay for these dictionaries, writers’ guides, and other tools, they are essential for self-respecting translators. To discover books that are part of my library, I suggest you read “Que préfère le traducteur : les dictionnaires en ligne ou papier?” [Do translators prefer paper or online dictionaries?]


Quels sont les meilleurs dictionnaires unilingues gratuits en ligne?” provides a list of free, online monolingual dictionaries.


Feel free to post a comment and suggest your favourite translation resources!


Mariko Beaupre

Translator and copywiter

Share Button

Leave a reply

  • (won't be published)