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Poll: How many monolingual dictionaries do you have?
Thread poster: Staff Staff
Local time: 23:57
Oct 30, 2009

This forum topic is for the discussion of the poll question "How many monolingual dictionaries do you have?".

This poll was originally submitted by Nikki Graham

View the poll here

A forum topic will appear each time a new poll is run. For more information, see:


Gianluca Marras  Identity Verified
Local time: 08:57
Member (2008)
English to Italian
Other: Oct 30, 2009

I bought my (paper) monolingual dictionary in 2000. Since then I have used it almost only when I teach English, as the Internet provides a lot of online dictionaries (also the one I have at home) so I could say that I have 1, but I use something like 15!


Deborah do Carmo  Identity Verified
Local time: 07:57
Dutch to English
+ ...
9-15 Oct 30, 2009

And find them far more reliable than any bilingual dictionaries available in my language pairs.


Christine Andersen  Identity Verified
Local time: 08:57
Member (2003)
Danish to English
+ ...
Dozens Oct 30, 2009

I really can't count them all off hand if you include my whole collection and those I rarely or never use (because they are obsolete, not in my working languages, bought at charity shops for fun etc.) But I have just had one of the 'rare' ones down to check a printing term...

I have three general English dictionaries in more or less regular use (online, more detailed and US)
Two Danish ones (the current online version and an older hard-copy one with more detail and a grammar section.) Plus a couple more that I rarely use.

I have a large number of specialist dictionaries, - especially law, medical, technical, IT and culinary in English and Danish. Alternative energy, business economics, chemistry ...

I voted over 15, because I can see that number on my shelves without getting off my chair and know I use them regularly!

But I collect dictionaries for fun too, and have some good ones in non-working languages. So the line is not clear between those I actually use and those I have for KudoZ point grabbing and bedtime reading (like Ayton's Diner's Dictionary and Gloag's Short Dictionary of Furniture, a couple edited by Pevsner and a lovely Danish one on Art and Architecture icon_biggrin.gif ).

Some have been a disappointment for actual use, while others bought for a song in charity shops have become indispensable working tools.

I do realise I am enormously privileged, because my native language is English, and there is so much available. But there are good monolingual dictionaries in most other languages, and I simply could not work without them.

A brilliant poll!

I really must collect some more Swedish and Norwegian dictionaries...

Happy word-hunting!



Paul Adie  Identity Verified
Spanish to English
+ ...
Too many Oct 30, 2009

I have quite a few, mainly in English. Quite a few have been inherited from family members. A few Russian, Spanish, Catalan, French ones too. The Russian one is especially useful and there are tonnes of cheap Russian monolinguals out there, well in Russia at least.

Oh yes, Christine, I have to say that I love it when you post something. You always give a rather long reply and whatever you say seems to be very interesting. Just thought I would mention it!

Happy translating!



Muriel Vasconcellos  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 23:57
Member (2003)
Spanish to English
+ ...
Stopped counting at 50 Oct 30, 2009

Then there are the style manuals (another 40 or so) and of course 100 or so multilingual dictionaries and glossaries.

My companion built shelves that run the length of the room with the bottom one at eye level, so I can reach the first shelf without moving from my chair or even stretching - very convenient!


Ivette Camargo López  Identity Verified
Local time: 08:57
English to Spanish
+ ...
15+ Oct 30, 2009

And this poll just reminded me to add yet another entry of a monolingual dictionary in our beautiful "library" of printed dictionaries,

which is duly maintained by Nikki Graham, along with Cindy Chadd and other colleagues.

Well done, ladies!,


P.S.: just corrected my reply, because I just realized I had only counted the Spanish language ones, and I actually have monolingual dictionaries also in English, French and German (we also have Turkish and Russian, but they are not mine).

[Edited at 2009-10-30 10:51 GMT]


Local time: 07:57
French to English
+ ...
I have at least 4 monolingual French dictionaries and 6 English ones! Oct 30, 2009

I studied joint English and French at Leeds University and have always found the development of the English Language fascinating. I would look up one word in the huge Oxford English dictionary volumes in the library and would spend ages finding out more about the changes in use of words and phrases!

Like other contributors, I find monolingual dictionaries in my working language more useful tools to help me understand the real range of meanings of words and phrases than bilingual dictionaries.

These days I use on-line dictionaries quite often, both for translation work and to find out about the very varied physical and medical conditions my pupils are diagnosed with and the implications their conditions may have for their education.


Christel Zipfel  Identity Verified
Member (2004)
Italian to German
+ ...
Interesting poll! Oct 30, 2009

I am very astonished though to see that more than 50% have only 1 to 3 dictionaries.:-?

I started in the pre-internet era but also today, I could not stay without dictionaries. I have several dozens, quite impossible to count them!


Amy Duncan (X)  Identity Verified
Local time: 04:57
Portuguese to English
+ ...
Other Oct 30, 2009

Depends on what you mean by "have." Most of my dictionaries are on-line.


R-i-c-h-a-r-d  Identity Verified
Local time: 04:57
Member (2006)
Portuguese to English
+ ...
My thoughts entirely Oct 30, 2009

Amy Duncan wrote:

Depends on what you mean by "have." Most of my dictionaries are on-line.

I honestly think that using on-line / computer-based dictionaries is more efficient. If I can find a digital copy of a dictionary then I will use it out of preference.

It's a very similar phenomenon to the MP3 format for music. Thousands of CD's can easily be replaced by a simple, albeit large, database of digital music.

Don't get me wrong, I love the feel and touch of physical books and vinyl records, but I am positively in favour of digital technology.

Have a great weekend All.


Aguas de Mar (X)
Some good ole memories Oct 30, 2009

This topic has surfaced many times along the years here in Proz. I remember once saying that, even though I use a lot of web-based sources, I still prefer my old paper dictionaries (I literally said that my heart was with the paper). Jack Doughty, a fellow prozian, replied that my comment had inspired him to write a parody of Robert Burns’ poem “My heart’s in the Highlands”. I thought it was wonderful, I have it posted on my fridge, I read it every day, and so I am posting it here again to share with you:

My Heart’s With the Paper
By Jack Doughty

My heart’s with the paper, my heart is not here,
My heart’s with the paper forever, I fear.
A-chasing the wild word, and failing; and yet
My heart’s with the paper and not with the Net.

Farewell to the paper, it’s sad but it’s true -
To the Websters, the Oxford, and Callaham’s too.
Hello to the Google, hello Multitran.
You have to find answers wherever you can.

Farewell to Larousse, and hello, Wikipedia.
There’s all that you need on the Internet media.
Farewell to Britannica filling the shelf.
It’s all on the Web, you can find it yourself.

But my heart’s with the paper, I say it again.
My heart’s with the paper. It causes me pain
To abandon my lost loves, no more books to see.
My heart’s with the paper, and always will be!

[Edited at 2009-10-30 14:14 GMT]


Christine Andersen  Identity Verified
Local time: 08:57
Member (2003)
Danish to English
+ ...
CDs Oct 30, 2009

The ones I have counted as 'online' are actually CD versions more or less based on hard copy dictionaries or updated versions of them.

In practice the Concise Oxford, Politikens Nudansk and Munksgaards Klinisk, all of which I also have on paper.

I love Jack's poem! It now adorns our fridge too.


Steve Booth  Identity Verified
Local time: 07:57
Member (2007)
English to Arabic
+ ...
real dictionaries Oct 30, 2009

I have three one good english dictionary and 2 arabic ones
I do also have some encyclopedias and lots of other dictionaries in my language pair I frequently browse old book shops and of course ebay for dictionaries most of which i would never use for work. I have a large selection of useless dictionaries but am quite fond of them especially the oens produced in ther Middle East aimed at our soldiers stationed over there pre world war 2. Sadly the one i really want has eluded me 'Arabic For Riff Raff'.


Parrot  Identity Verified
Local time: 08:57
Spanish to English
+ ...
I suspect... Oct 30, 2009

Christel Zipfel wrote:

I am very astonished though to see that more than 50% have only 1 to 3 dictionaries.:-?

... it's a function of age.icon_lol.gif All accumulation is.

For a parrot, I'm pretty much a magpie myself.


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