Language insights

How to Find the Best English-Spanish Dictionaries

Carl Hill 17 May 2020
How to Find the Best English-Spanish Dictionaries

Considering what English to Spanish to English dictionary to pick, one needs to take into account a range of factors. Since there are many available to buy and a lot of in free access, there is plenty of space to decide on what parameters are important in a dictionary for you as a translator and come up with the best match. Pay attention to the most important factors when choosing an English-Spanish dictionary.

Your Needs

If you plan to work with texts in some specific fields like law or healthcare, a general dictionary may not be suitable. Some specific jargon and terminology can only be found in specialized dictionaries. It also works vice versa – a legal dictionary will be of no help when translating a general text. For many, a good idea will be to buy both a specialized in the field one is working and a general one.

Dictionary Format

The most basic option is a dictionary of Spanish-English equivalents. However, there are dozens of types of dictionaries and their various combinations. You need to choose whether you need a bilingual or maybe a multilingual dictionary, do you need only equivalents or maybe also definitions, examples and a thesaurus too. Deciding on a dictionary format often considerably limits the search and makes it easier to choose.

Preferred Medium

For many, print versions are now back in the days. Depending on where and how one works, different mediums for dictionaries can be more convenient than others. One can have a dictionary on their smartphone, laptop, tablet and even some eBooks have this feature. Dictionary programs and websites for all kinds of devices are vast. Also, some dictionary publishers offer a free desktop version when buying a printed dictionary, which allows even more flexibility.

Price Range

One can find some translators’ community-based free dictionaries that may be good if used wisely. The majority of other free dictionaries, however, are not suitable for translators. Generally, when it comes to translation, the internet is not a reliable source and it is often better to spend some money on a good dictionary rather than let its absence negatively affect your work. Of course, good dictionaries can often be pricey, it is better to think of it as an investment.


Many websites offer reviews on books, including dictionaries. However, try to find reviews from specialists. One can look for some on translators’ forums, read which dictionaries are recommended by professional translation services. Reviews, of course, should not be taken for granted, so it is better to make the choice based on a dozen, not one or two positive reviews.

Here are some of the best English to Spanish to English dictionaries in terms of quality and price:

1. Merriam-Webster's Pocket Spanish-English Dictionary

Price: from $6.91

448-page Merriam-Webster Spanish-English dictionary Pocket Edition is a great tool for translation in a convenient portable format. It contains 45,000 entries, has two sections (English-Spanish, Spanish-English), and also has transcriptions for English words in the International Phonetic Alphabet (IPA).

2. The New World Spanish English Dictionary

Price: from $7.94

The New World Spanish English Dictionary contains over 70,000 entries. It covers general vocabulary, slang, and idioms. It also explains the slightest differences in the word meanings in context and includes transcript ions in IPA.

3. The Bantam New College Spanish and English Dictionary

Price: from $73.18

Bantam dictionaries are often considered the best when it comes to French and Spanish. It is often praised for brilliant clear explanations and a rich thesaurus. Apart from essentials, it also contains entries on idioms.

4. Collins Gem: Spanish: Phrasebook and Dictionary

Price: from$7.59

Published by Collins, this 3,000-word dictionary is an extremely helpful resource for travelers. It includes frequently used phrases in a variety of situations. It also contains a decoder for a menu, which can help a lot when eating out.

5. Spanish Pocket Student Dictionary

Price: from $5.45

This is a great dictionary not only for learners. Its main feature is the vast number of examples of the use of words and expressions in context making it a rich source knowledge of language vocabulary.

6. Oxford Spanish Mini Dictionary

Price: from $4.89

Oxford Spanish Mini Dictionary is the reissued small dictionary version. It covers 40,000 words and phrases of essentials and everyday language. This edition also emphasizes its convenient color theme that helps the reader to look through it quickly.

7. Random House Spanish-English English-Spanish Dictionary by Margaret H. Raventos

Price: from $16.48

The dictionary includes more than 60,000 entries and has two sections: English-Spanish and Spanish-English. It is the rich source of essential vocabulary and it also includes geographical names and essential abbreviations.

8. Larousse Concise Spanish English Dictionary

Price: from $8.55

This is a big, heavy 230,000 words, expressions, and translations dictionary that one would not take to work outside. This dictionary includes some professional terms as well as general vocabulary. It also includes the explanation of Spanish and Latin-American terms and information on their culture.

9. Penguin Pocket Spanish Dictionary: Spanish at Your Fingertips

Price: from $11

Pocketbook version includes 640 pages and over 38,000 dictionary entries. The vocabulary includes the profound collection of essential words in everyday use and some idiomatic expressions.

10. Merriam-Webster Spanish English Dictionary

Price: from $6.99

It is a complete edition that contains over 80,000 entries and 130,000 translations of the contemporary essential and general-use vocabulary. It is bidirectional, which means it has two sections – English-Spanish and Spanish-English. The dictionary is also suitable for students and kids.



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