Improving your vocabulary will enhance your communication, which is an essential skill for progressing in any part of your life. Whether you want to look up the meaning of words or learn new ones, these apps are must-haves for English speakers.
For Android users, we have found arguably the best dictionary app. The iPhone already comes with a dictionary, so there’s not much need for that. There are some excellent reference apps for smartphones which you can use offline as well as online, so check those out too.
1. Word of the Hour (Web, Android, iOS, Chrome): Hourly Words, With Translations
Word of the Hour is a Reddit community dedicated to helping you learn new words in your quest to expand your vocabulary. The app updates every hour with a new word and its meaning, and its usage in a sentence.
Word of the Hour also has translations in more than 10 languages. Currently, the app supports Assamese, Bengali, Catalan, Esperanto, French, Galician, German, Hindi, Italian, Kazakh, Portuguese, Spanish, Swedish, and Welsh. Some languages also get example sentences.
The app has support on a variety of platforms, ensuring you get that update no matter what you are using. This includes mobile apps for Android and iOS, experimental desktop programs, a Chrome extension, and even a Slack bot.
If you’re serious about adding new entries to your mental dictionary, this is the app to install.
Download: Word of the Hour for Chrome (Free)
2. Aard 2 (Android): Offline Dictionary, Wikipedia, and More
Aard 2 is arguably the best offline dictionary or reference app for Android. It’s an all-in-one tool for multiple dictionaries as well as an offline Wikipedia reader.
Think of Aard 2 as an offline client. You can customize that client by adding different dictionaries as databases. Aard’s list of dictionaries has official download links for various sources such as WordNet, FreeDict, Wiktionary, Wikibooks, Wikiquote, Uncyclopedia, The Collaborative International Dictionary of English, and more. Download any to your phone, refresh Aard 2 to find it on your handset, and you’re good to go.
Similarly, Aard 2 also lets you add the Wikipedia knowledge database as well. So in one client, you can get a word’s meaning from different sources, as well as what Wikipedia has to say about it. Cool, right?
Aard 2 is completely free. The design is a little old-fashioned, but given how much you get in one client, it’s worth it. The only pain point is that the dictionaries don’t auto-update with new entries, so you’ll have to periodically re-download them.
Download: Aard 2 for Android (Free)
3. Treegle (Web): Tree-Like Dictionary for More Words
Treegle is a new take on the traditional dictionary, which actually seems like the logical way to do dictionaries. See, when you visit most of the popular dictionary apps, you will get a definition of the word you’re looking up. But if the definition itself has words that you don’t understand, then you have to look that up, and then go back to your original reference. It’s a messy way to learn.
Treegle turns the dictionary into a tree-like system. So your original word and its meaning come first. Then you can click on any word in the meaning, and it will branch out into a meaning of that word alone. You can again click on any word in the new meaning, or in the original meaning, for further branches.
The end result is a tree of different words and meanings, but this time you are sure what the definition exactly means. Treegle isn’t as information-packed as dictionaries like Oxford or Merriam-Webster, but it seems like the more organic way to look up words.
4. Word Chain (Android, iOS): Make and Learn Longest Words
Word Chain is a single play or multiplayer mobile game with a focus on learning new words. The rules are simple. Taking turns, you are randomly assigned a letter of the alphabet at the start of each round. Make the longest word you can with it.
It follows some rules of games like Scrabble, in that you can’t use “s” to turn the word into a plural and increase the letter count. There’s a limited time to make your word and type it out, so you’ll have to think of something quickly. Each letter counts as one point. The first to reach the target score wins.
At the end of each game, you will get a full list of all the words used in the game, and their meanings and pronunciations. It’s a nice way to test your own vocabulary while learning new words alongside. And periodically, Word Chain sends notifications with new words and definitions.
5. Eunoia (Web): Foreign Words Without English Equivalents
English doesn’t have words to describe every single thing in the universe. But there are phrases and terms in other languages that describe some things perfectly, and there is no equivalent in English. Welcome to Eunoia, the searchable directory of words that don’t translate.
Eunoia has a database of over 500 words in over 50 languages, which don’t have perfect English translations. Sample some of these:
- Eunoia: (Greek) A well-mind or beautiful thinking
- Kretek: (Malay) The sound of dry leaves or twigs being trodden underfoot
- Fahrvergnügen: (German): The love of simply driving
- Chai-Pani: (Hindi) Literally “tea and water”; but used to mean the money and favors given to someone to get things done
Eunoia is full of these experiences and things that can’t easily be put into a single word in English. But the English language has a history of adopting words from other languages. So why should any of these be any different?
Improving English Beyond Vocabulary
A good vocabulary is simply one part of mastering a language. If you want to enjoy its full potential, you need to learn other aspects like grammar and syntax, figures of speech, proverbs, phrases, and much more.
While you should continue your quest to learn new words with the aforementioned apps, the English language demands more of you. You might want to try some of the best mobile apps to learn and improve English.