If your work reads or writes a lot of text on your computer, a dictionary is an indispensable tool for you. It can save you the trouble of looking up a word on the web and in turn help you with your workflow.
If you have a dictionary app on your computer, you can easily find the meanings of words you encounter every day, check their spelling and learn more about them, such as their synonyms and antonyms.
Here is a list of the best Linux dictionaries that can help you read, write and understand a language better.
dict is a CLI based dictionary for Linux. It is essentially a client for DICT (Dictionary Network Protocol), which provides access to a variety of dictionaries through a unified interface.
Being a command line tool, dict is quite easy to use. To look up the definition of a word with dict, you just need to use the dictation command followed by the word. Then dict looks it up in the dictionaries hosted on dict.org and returns its definition. In addition, if you wish, you can also look up a word in a specific database for more accurate and relevant meanings/definitions.
In addition to looking up definitions, dict is also useful for finding new words, thanks to its matching function. So, for example, if you want to see a list of four letter words that start with the letter ‘t’ and end with ‘r’, you can ask the same to dictate, and it will return a list of all such words.
To install dict on Debian/Ubuntu, open the terminal and run the following command:
sudo apt install dict
On other Linux distributions, open the package manager, search for dict and install it.
2. Golden Dictation
GoldenDict is one of the most versatile and graphical dictionaries for Linux. It provides a beautiful display of results rich in colors, images, formatting, and links, while also supporting some of the most popular dictionary file formats.
In addition, with GoldenDict you also get support for Wikipedia, Wiktionary, and other similar websites, so you can choose a reference source based on your preference. In addition, if needed, you have the option to use any website as a reference to look up definitions of words in GoldenDict.
To further extend the functionality, GoldenDict also lets you listen for pronunciations, which can sometimes come in handy. Similarly, another useful feature in GoldenDict is: Scan popup. Once enabled, this feature allows you to translate a word by simply hovering over it and pressing the Shift key.
How to install GoldenDict
To install GoldenDict on Debian/Ubuntu, run:
sudo apt install goldendict
On Arch Linux you can install GoldenDict from the AUR:
yay -S goldendict-git
On Fedora, CentOS or RHEL:
sudo dnf install goldendict
Artha is a free, offline English dictionary for Linux. It is based on WordNet, a lexical database that provides a wide range of information about words in many languages. So you can be sure to find a match when you look up a word in Artha.
Speaking of usability, Artha is quite fluid and easy to use. It includes hotkey support, so you can select a word and press the hotkey to look it up. Then there’s the auto-complete feature, which automatically suggests the word you’re spelling to save you time and effort and comes in handy when you need to look up a word you don’t know how to spell.
In addition, Artha also allows you to use regex (regular expression) in your searches to narrow down the results to ones that are more accurate and specific. One feature of Artha that stands out compared to other dictionaries is its tabbed user interface, which allows you to check synonyms, antonyms and other useful information with a simple click.
To install Artha on Debian/Ubuntu, open the terminal and run:
sudo apt install artha
Usage on Fedora:
sudo yum install artha
You can use Yay to install Artha on Arch Linux:
yay -S artha
4. WordNet Browser
WordNet Browser is a minimal dictionary app for Linux. It’s basically a window-based interface to the free and multilingual dictionary database WordNet developed by Princeton University, which displays relevant results in an easy-to-digest format.
With a minimal interface, WordNet Browser is quite easy to use. When you look up a word on it, you’re presented with a ton of information about that word, sorted into different sections, which you can select from a drop-down button at the top to expand.
Sometimes WordNet results can contain meanings with multiple senses, ie different meanings under different circumstances. In such cases, the WordNet Browser informs you of this when you look up a word and allows you to limit the search to one or more specific senses.
How to install the WordNet browser
Use this command to install the WordNet browser on Debian/Ubuntu:
sudo apt install wordnet-gui
On Arch Linux, run:
yay -S wordnet
Here’s how to install Yay on your Arch-based system if you haven’t already installed it.
To install WordNet Browser on Fedora, CentOS, and RHEL, use:
sudo yum install wordnet
5. GNOME Dictionary
GNOME Dictionary is yet another minimal but highly functional dictionary app for Linux. While the first look at the UI might indicate there isn’t much to offer here, visiting the menus suggests otherwise and reveals the true extent of functionality.
For starters, GNOME Dictionary allows you to select a dictionary source and even add a custom one, depending on your preference. Then there is the option to choose a dictionary database from a range of databases, including those in different languages, expanding the range of use even further.
As for usability, all you need to do to look up a word in GNOME Dictionary is enter your search term in the search box, and it will return the result of your chosen dictionary database. The returned result contains the definition, verb, and usage examples, with hyperlinks to synonyms, which you can click to view. Finally, the software also provides a few keyboard shortcuts to enable faster operations.
How to Install GNOME Dictionary on Linux
On Debian/Ubuntu you can install GNOME Dictionary with:
sudo apt install gnome-dictionary
If you’re using Fedora, CentOS, or RHEL, run:
sudo yum install gnome-dictionary
In the case of another Linux distro, you can install GNOME Dictionary from Flathub using:
flatpak install flathub org.gnome.Dictionary
Looking up words on Linux made easy
With good dictionary software, you can look up words for their definitions, synonyms, antonyms, etc. It’s easy to find the right dictionary software for your Linux machine, eliminating the need to manually look up words on the Internet.
Alternatively, if you often struggle to find a word that you already know the meaning of, OneLook Reverse Dictionary can be helpful at such times.