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Dictionaries & Reference Books
Learn a new language easily and quickly improve your vocabulary by getting the right set of dictionaries. These are books and software containing words, their definitions, and sample sentences. You can use them as reference books to quickly look up rare and difficult words as well as unfamiliar expressions. Staples® carries a wide selection of dictionaries in both print and digital forms as a part of our education and school supplies.
Pick From Different Types of Dictionaries The first factor to consider when looking for a dictionary is language. Make sure it is in a language you can read. Monolingual lexicons are the most popular. If you are learning a new language, get a bilingual edition. Monolingual editions are usually more advanced and provide wider collections of words, example sentences, idioms, and phrasal verbs. Bilingual ones are simpler and mostly serve as translators and introductions to second languages.
There are two types of monolingual lexicons: those meant for native speakers and those written for learners. Learner editions contain simpler explanations and other aids to help readers quickly understand a second language. Editions for native speakers contain more rare words with concise explanations and fewer example sentences.
Choose Between Print and Electronic Dictionaries Print lexicons usually come in thick tomes that sit on desks and bookshelves. There are also slim, pocket editions but these have smaller word libraries and are best for quick references. Digital lexicons offer the large and rich word libraries of big print editions without the bulk. They are available in different forms including CD or DVD discs you can read with your computer, apps for smartphones and tablets, online resources hosted on the web, and dedicated devices called PEDs.
PEDs or Personal Electronic Dictionaries are handheld devices that typically feature flip-up screens and keyboards. They have internal flash memories that can store multiple lexicons, thesauruses, translators, and encyclopedias. Digital lexicons are easier to search than print editions. They also offer audio recordings that can help learners with word pronunciations. It is also possible to update most of them with new words and definitions. Print lexicons, on the other hand, do not require separate devices, the internet, or electricity to work. You can use them anywhere and for as long as you want.
Should You Own Multiple Dictionaries? Yes. You should have at least two lexicons and from different publishers. Doing this will give you access to a larger word library. If one provides an unclear definition for a word, you can consult the other for a more detailed explanation. Choose a learners' lexicon if you already have a general-use or native speaker edition.
Are There Special-Use Dictionaries? You can often find dictionaries and children's books combined with other reference sources. One common combination is a dictionary and thesaurus in one book. Dictionaries designed for kids of varying ages are popular and helpful for teaching and research. Other special options include rhyming volumes, synonyms and antonyms, and ones that help teach spelling and phonics.
Are There Field-Specific Dictionaries? Yes. Lexicons dedicated to specific fields only have words used by people in those disciplines. They provide a more in-depth explanation of terms and use technical words that are familiar to those studying or practicing in those fields. Common examples include law and medical dictionaries.