25 dictionaries

Langenscheidt: exciting possibilities without all the confusion

As a young man travelling around Europe, Gustav Langenscheidt (1832–1895), founder of the renowned language resource publisher Langenscheidt, discovered just how important the knowledge of foreign languages is for successful communication.

For more than one hundred and sixty years, Langenscheidt has been offering a broad range of products to language learners, professionals and enthusiasts. In many areas, the publishing products have been highly innovative and ground-breaking. In the early 20th century (from 1905), the publisher was already developing language learning vinyl records. In the 1980s, Langenscheidt came up with the first pocket calculators with a dictionary function in four languages. Numerous other digital products followed: handhelds, CDs, e-books, apps and online products.

In a constantly changing world, languages are also constantly evolving. Every day, new words appear, old ones alter their meaning and new expressions are coined. To keep up with changing language use, reliable and up-to-date dictionaries are more important than ever. At the same time, people in the globalised world increasingly want to be able to use foreign languages actively rather than just comprehending them.

The free online dictionaries from Langenscheidt offer a wide-ranging, up-to-date vocabulary in 25 language combinations and help learners to get to know and understand the specifics of their chosen foreign language through verified translations and a range of other information.

Free online dictionaries from Langenscheidt

The particular strength of Langenscheidt dictionaries, whether online or in print, lies in their versatility. In addition to the most important translations of a particular headword, they also contain numerous expressions and examples, as well as information about grammar, pronunciation, language level or regional use. To master a foreign language, it is essential to understand the nuances in the meanings of words or the expressions in which they are used. For the word “paint”, the dictionary shows a number of context sentences, including idiomatic expressions that can be easily misunderstood because they have a figurative meaning, e.g. under “paint”, you can find “to paint the town red” – translated into German as “die Stadt unsicher machen”, “auf die Pauke hauen” (see https://en.langenscheidt.com/english-german/paint).

Content of the Langenscheidt online dictionaries

The Langenscheidt online dictionaries provide the same content that is included in the print dictionary. In the digital versions, however, the dictionaries offer a number of additional features, including:

  • Audio of pronunciation to listen to
  • More context sentences than in the printed version
  • Links to synonyms and similar words
  • Users can find the meanings of abbreviations, e.g. for specialist subject areas, by tapping or clicking on the abbreviation using their finger or mouse

Another advantage is that the content of the Langenscheidt online dictionaries is regularly updated and can be accessed online at any time.

The following elements are especially helpful when looking up words in digital dictionaries:


Dictionaries consist of so-called entries or items, each grouped around a headword. Headwords are typically shown in their basic form, e.g. German nouns are shown in the nominative singular and verbs in the infinitive. In addition to translations of the headword, an entry always contains other important information, e.g. language level, pronunciation and grammar, examples or idiomatic expressions.

Phonetic spelling

In many online dictionaries the phonetic spelling is written after the headword in square brackets in accordance with IPA standards. The phonetic spelling gives learners an initial idea of the correct pronunciation.

Information on grammar

For headwords, the dictionaries provide grammar information in an abbreviated form, usually to indicate the part of speech.

For nouns in languages with grammatical gender (German, French, Italian, Spanish etc.), the dictionary provides information about gender: M, F, N (masculine, feminine, neuter) or PL where the word is used only in the plural.

For verbs, the dictionary provides information on whether the verb is transitive, i.e. able to take a direct object, intransitive or reflexive.


The grammar information also includes information on inflection, which is typically shown in the online dictionaries between angle brackets < >.

Inflection is the generic term for declension (inflection of nouns and adjectives) and conjugation (inflection of verbs). In German, for example, nouns have different word forms depending on the grammatical number (singular or plural) or case (nominative, genitive, dative, accusative). German verbs are conjugated according to person (I, you, he/she/it), number, tense and mood (indicative, subjunctive, conditional, imperative). For verbs, the dictionary specifies the main forms, for example irregular forms. For German nouns, the dictionary typically shows the genitive singular and the nominative plural.

The dictionary specifies different types of inflections and information on inflection depending on the language.

Explanatory notes

(indicators, subject areas and language level information)

To help users to choose the most suitable translation for the given context from several translations, the online dictionaries offer numerous references in a concise form:

  • the subject areas in which a word or a specific meaning is used, such as ARCHIT = architecture, BIOL = biology, POL = politics, TECH = technology, INTERNET etc.
  • generic terms, synonyms (words with similar meaning) or paraphrases, e.g. the German term “Anhänger” can refer to a trailer, a pendant or a (tie-on) label, tag.
  • information on whether the meaning is literal or figurative: for figurative meanings, the abbreviation fig = figurative is used
  • typical nouns that can be used as objects or subjects for verbs or combined with adjectives, e.g. the subject or object of the German verb “fliegen” or the English “fly” could be an aircraft, bird, person, ball or arrow
  • style and regional information, for example whether a word/phrase is considered formal or informal/colloquial, or whether a word/phrase is in Austrian or Swiss German, British or US English, Latin American Spanish or Portuguese, Canadian French etc.

Example sentences and phrases

Another helpful feature are the numerous example sentences and expressions that show how a word is used in context. Often, in combination with other words, new, independent meanings emerge, best illustrated by examples with a matching translation.

Be prepared and stock up on products from the Langenscheidt online shop and the app stores

In the online shop at www.langenscheidt.com you will find the entire range of Langenscheidt Verlag: from printed dictionaries, language courses, media and translation through to vocabulary trainers.

Print dictionaries (e.g. for Spanish please visit: www.langenscheidt.com/shop/spanisch/selbstlernen-woerterbuch) are still popular and enrich many libraries across the world. They are practical because they are available in many different sizes and the required word or phrase can be looked up even if you do not have access to the internet. This is invaluable, e.g. when travelling in regions where there is no fast internet access.

In addition to print products, Langenscheidt also offers a range of iOS and Android apps for dictionaries, language courses, vocabulary trainers, and much more:

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