Let me explain what I'm after:

  • monolingual
  • all examples are taken from a large corpus of contemporary text (the COBUILD series is now using Bank of English)
  • the senses for each entry are sorted by frequency, most frequent first
  • the senses are based solely on a concordance based on the corpus
  • the definitions are complete stentences without tons of abbreviations
  • it's stuffed with collocations (words that occur together very often, like spot -> the right spot, quiet spot)
  • there are synonyms and antonyms for high frequency words
  • the frequency of words are marked directly, not hidden in an appendix
  • it uses IPA, not homegrown pronunciation-symbols (probably common in Non-English dictionaries anyway)
  • any irregular forms are shown together with the entry, not hidden in an appendix

Lexicographically, the first COBUILD dictionary heralded a paradigm shift, and I was very lucky to find a copy when I was learning English.

I've been looking for something like a COBUILD-style dictionary for Geman and French for a very long time. I've started to suspect that it maybe takes too many resources to build one (a corpus with few enough rights limitations and a trained staff and several years for the assembly), and that's why there aren't any obvious candidates for other languages.

  • Do you mean a digital one?
    – Alenanno
    Sep 17, 2011 at 14:29
  • 1
    Paper is fine. Digital is only relevant if it is not to rent but to own.
    – kaleissin
    Sep 17, 2011 at 16:40
  • From my extensive experience working with dictionaries of all kinds, Longman Dictionary of Contemporary English (5th edition) and Oxford Advanced Learner's Dictionary (8th edition) are way superior in quality than Collins COBUILD. I've always found Collins dictionaries too brief, simplistic, and not suited for advanced learners of English.
    – Alex B.
    Nov 23, 2011 at 22:19
  • 1
    I doubt there is any IPA-based dictionary of Russian. Russian dictionaries do not include pronunciation rules usually anyway because the pronunciation is determined by the spelling.
    – Anixx
    Jan 15, 2012 at 20:45
  • Update: Converted to Community Wiki so it can serve as a database for future reference.
    – Alenanno
    Feb 1, 2012 at 17:31

3 Answers 3


Is this the kind of thing you're looking for ? Le Trésor de la langue française informatisé (TLFi) (Link is to the online version but there are also DVD and print versions).

  • 1
    Going by the pages on amazon.fr, it's OED for French. 15 volumes in paper. Ah, if only I had the room...
    – kaleissin
    Jan 5, 2012 at 8:24

For European Spanish: Gran diccionario de uso del español actual Based on Cumbre corpus. SGEL. 2005

For Argentinian Spanish: Diccionario integral del español de la Argentina VOZ ACTIVA/Clarin available online: http://www.clarin.com/diccionario

For Brazilian Portuguese:

Dicionário de usos do Português do Brasil by Francisco S. Borba; 2002

Dicionário UNESP by the same author; 2005

For Italian: http://it.wikipedia.org/wiki/Il_dizionario_della_lingua_italiana_De_Mauro

As for English, your best bet is a combination of:

  1. ''Oxford Dictionary of English'', either the British variant (NOAD) or the American one (NODE); it lists the most frequent meaning first, and should not be confused with ''Oxford English Dictionary'' which lists meanings as they appeared in the history of the English language
  2. A frequency Dictionary; I bought myself a 20 000 Frequency list (with synonyms and collocates) from Corpus of Contemporary American English (COCA)
  3. Good pronunciation dictionary (I like the Longman one)
  • They seem to be rather larger in scope than what I'm looking for.
    – kaleissin
    Feb 1, 2012 at 9:29
  • 1
    The one thing that burns me up about the American Oxford English Dictionary is that they use schoolkid pseudo-phonetic spelling instead of the IPA for their pronunciation guide. I can't wait for this to be rectified. Jul 18, 2012 at 6:03

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