Dictionaries for Learners of British English

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English is a West Germanic language that serves as the global lingua franca in the 21st century. It is originally from England and spread throughout the world by the British Empire. When the British Empire broke up, many countries in its former dominion retained English either as a first language or a second language of governance and business. The term “British English” is often used to distinguish the English spoken in England and the wider United Kingdom from the other “Englishes” in other countries, such as “American English”, “Canadian English”, etc.

While the countries in the former British Empire are now independent from the UK, British English is still considered the gold standard in those countries. American English may be the most influential at the international setting, but the variety of the English language spoken in England — the original home country of the language — still commands great respect to this day worldwide even in the United States.

We have culled a list of monolingual dictionaries for learners of British English. You do not have to buy all the dictionaries listed below. Just choose the ones that you think will be most helpful to you at this stage of your language acquisition.

English for Everyone: English Vocabulary Builder

English for Everyone: English Vocabulary Builder

Author/Editor: Dorling Kindersley Ltd
Publisher: Dorling Kindersley Ltd
Edition No.:
Publication Date: March 2018

Book Description:

Expand your English vocabulary with this unique combination of illustrated vocabulary reference and practical workbook. English Vocabulary Builder makes all the most useful English words and phrases easy to remember. Covering both UK and US spellings in a single edition, each of the 3,000 entries is illustrated and available as an audio recording. Readers can write their own translations and work through hundreds of practice exercises to fix the English words in their minds and improve their English-language skills. English Vocabulary Builder makes vocabulary easier than ever to learn and remember. English for Everyone is an exciting and comprehensive self-study course for adults of all ages and levels learning English as a foreign language.

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Cambridge Learner’s Dictionary

Cambridge Learner's Dictionary

Author/Editor: Cambridge University Press
Publisher: Cambridge University Press
Edition No.: 4th Revised Edition
Publication Date: August 2012

Book Description:

The Cambridge Learner’s Dictionary is the best route to success in English. This new edition updates the existing content and contains new features to make learning English even easier. The new edition has been revised and fully updated throughout and includes many new words (e.g. phone-hacking, cloud computing, rare earth, toxic debt) with more than 35,000 definitions in clear, simple English. English Profile levels mark the essential vocabulary that students need to know at CEF B1-B2 levels, see www.englishprofile.org for more information. Mini-collocation panels help students to produce more natural English. Common mistakes are highlighted based on the Cambridge English Corpus. The accompanying CD-ROM includes a ‘record yourself’ feature for pronunciation practice and spoken pronunciations of every word in both British and American English.

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Cambridge Advanced Learner’s Dictionary

Cambridge Advanced Learner's Dictionary

Author/Editor: Colin McIntosh, Cambridge University Press
Publisher: Cambridge University Press
Edition No.: 4th Revised Edition
Publication Date: June 2013

Book Description:

A fully updated edition of the best-selling Cambridge Advanced Learner’s Dictionary. This paperback edition is ideal for advanced (C1-C2) learners of English and contains up-to-date vocabulary, including words from the areas of technology, media, language, society, and lifestyle, plus important words for academic study. With over 140,000 words, phrases, meanings, and examples, hundreds of pictures and illustrations, clear definitions and a new ‘Focus on Writing’ section, the dictionary is perfect as a reference tool and as a study companion. Informed by the Cambridge International Corpus and correlated to English Vocabulary Profile, it is also ideal for exam preparation. The CD-ROM contains the complete dictionary and recordings in British and American English. The CD-ROM is compatible with Windows XP/Vista/7/8 and with Mac OSX 10.4 (32-bit only).

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Oxford Advanced Learner’s Dictionary (10th Edition)

Oxford Advanced Learner's Dictionary (10th Edition)

Author/Editor: Diana Lea, Jennifer Bradbery
Publisher: Oxford University Press
Edition No.: 10th Revised Edition
Publication Date: January 2020

Book Description:

The Oxford Advanced Learner’s Dictionary is the world’s bestselling advanced level dictionary for learners of English. Now in its 10th edition, the Oxford Advanced Learner’s Dictionary, or OALD, is your complete guide to learning English vocabulary with definitions that learners can understand, example sentences showing language in use, and the new Oxford 3000 (TM) and Oxford 5000 (TM) word lists providing core vocabulary that every student needs to learn.

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Oxford Advanced Learner’s Dictionary (9th Edition)

Oxford Advanced Learner's Dictionary

Author/Editor: Jeniffer Bradbery, Oxford University Press
Publisher: Oxford University Press
Edition No.: 9th Revised Edition
Publication Date: January 2015

Book Description:

Say it with Oxford. The Oxford Advanced Learner’s Dictionary is the ultimate speaking and writing tool for developing the skills you need for passing exams and communicating in English. It’s trusted by learners and teachers of English around the world for its clear explanations and example sentences. Language level: Upper-intermediate to advanced (B2-C2) Age range: Young teen to adult.

DVD-ROM includes:
* Full A-Z dictionary including 900 new words
* British and American English audio
* New iSpeaker to help student’s with pronunciation, and prepare them for speaking exams and oral presentations
* iWriter shows student’s how to plan, write and review your own writing tasks
* Topic wordlists

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Collins COBUILD Intermediate Learner’s Dictionary

Collins COBUILD Intermediate Learner’s Dictionary

Author/Editor: Collins Cobuild
Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
Edition No.: 4th Revised Edition
Publication Date: June 2018

Book Description:

The 4th edition of the Collins COBUILD Intermediate Learner’s Dictionary has been revised and updated to include detailed coverage of today’s English in a clear, attractive format. Ideal for intermediate level learners of English, and with full sentence definitions written in simple, natural English, this dictionary is easy to use and understand. Thousands of updated examples, taken from the 4.5 billion word Collins Corpus, show learners how the words are used in authentic contexts. This dictionary covers all the essential words, phrases and idioms that students at this level need to learn and provides help with grammar and usage. Additional information is provided throughout the dictionary to help learners improve their fluency and confidence in using English. Informative and relevant vocabulary panels show how words are used in a range of everyday contexts. In addition, this dictionary offers learners guidance on how to communicate effectively in English. The Language in Use supplement provides a wealth of invaluable information on how to write and speak English for different purposes using the appropriate language, style and tone. Resources and activities to help learners make the most of the dictionary are available for free online. The Collins COBUILD Intermediate Learner’s Dictionary provides invaluable guidance on the English language, and is the complete reference tool for learners of English.

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Collins COBUILD Advanced Learner’s Dictionary

Collins COBUILD Advanced Learner's Dictionary

Author/Editor: Collins Cobuild
Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
Edition No.: 9th Revised Edition
Publication Date: June 2018

Book Description:

The 9th edition of the Collins COBUILD Advanced Learner’s Dictionary has been revised and updated to include detailed coverage of today’s English in a clear, attractive format. Ideal for upper intermediate and advanced learners of English, this dictionary covers all the words, phrases and idioms that students need to master in order to speak and write effective English. Thousands of updated examples taken from the 4.5- billion word Collins Corpus, show learners how the words are used in authentic contexts. The dictionary offers extensive help with grammar through the inclusion of grammar patterns at examples, plus a new supplement to help with academic and business grammar. Additional information is provided throughout to help learners improve their knowledge of collocation, etymology and synonymy. Informative and relevant vocabulary panels show how words are used in a range of everyday contexts. In addition, this dictionary offers learners guidance on how to communicate effectively in English. The Language in Use supplement provides a wealth of invaluable information on how to write and speak English for different purposes using the appropriate language, style, and tone. Resources and activities to help learners make the most of the dictionary are available for free online. The Collins COBUILD Advanced Learner’s Dictionary provides invaluable and detailed guidance on the English language, and is the complete reference tool for learners of English.

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Cambridge Phrasal Verbs Dictionary

Cambridge Phrasal Verbs Dictionary

Author/Editor: Cambridge University Press
Publisher: Cambridge University Press
Edition No.: Updated Edition
Publication Date: June 2006

Book Description:

The new edition of the Cambridge Phrasal Verbs Dictionary covers around 6,000 phrasal verbs current in British, American and Australian English. Clear explanations and guidance help learners master this difficult yet essential aspect of the English language. Fully updated with new phrasal verbs, e.g. cosy up to, copy in, sex up. Clear advice on grammar and usage. Thousands of example sentences show phrasal verbs in typical contexts. Most common phrasal verbs highlighted so students know which to learn. A thematic section shows phrasal verbs in topic groups for vocabulary expansion.

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Cambridge Idioms Dictionary

Cambridge Idioms Dictionary

Author/Editor: Cambridge University Press
Publisher: Cambridge University Press
Edition No.: 2nd Revised Edition
Publication Date: July 2006

Book Description:

This new edition of the Cambridge Idioms Dictionary explains over 7,000 idioms current in British, American and Australian English, helping learners to understand them and use them with confidence. Fully updated with new idioms, e.g. think outside the box, play out of your skin, the new black. New, attractive page layout with idioms in colour for easy reference. Clear explanations and example sentences for every idiom. Most common idioms highlighted so students know which to learn. Topic section covering useful language areas, e.g. agreeing and disagreeing, telling stories.

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Oxford Dictionary of English

Oxford Dictionary of English

Author/Editor: Catherine Soanes, Angus Stevenson, Oxford University Press
Publisher: Oxford University Press
Edition No.: 3rd Revised Edition
Publication Date: August 2010

Book Description:

The foremost single volume authority on the English language, the Oxford Dictionary of English is at the forefront of language research, focusing on English as it is used today. It is informed by the most up-to-date evidence from the largest language research programme in the world, including the two-billion-word Oxford English Corpus. This new edition includes thousands of brand-new words and senses, as well as up-to-date encyclopedic information, and extensive appendices covering topics such as countries, heads of state, and chemical elements. New features include Word Trends which showcase language research based on the Oxford English Corpus and illuminate the extraordinary stories behind fast-changing words of everyday English.

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Oxford Collocations Dictionary for students of English

Oxford Collocations Dictionary for students of English

Author/Editor: Colin McIntosh, Ben Francis, Richard Poole
Publisher: Oxford University Press
Edition No.: 2nd Revised Edition
Publication Date: May 2009

Book Description:

The dictionary that helps students write and speak natural-sounding English, now in a new edition with CD-ROM. Which words usually go together? This dictionary shows you the common word combinations (collocations) that are essential for natural-sounding British and American English. Completely revised and extended, the new edition has over 250,000 collocations and over 75,000 examples.

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Oxford Idioms Dictionary for learners of English

Oxford Idioms Dictionary for learners of English

Author/Editor: Dilys Parkinson, Ben Francis
Publisher: Oxford University Press
Edition No.: 2nd Revised Edition
Publication Date: May 2007

Book Description:

A new edition of the dictionary that explains more than 10,000 of the most frequently used idioms in English today. This new edition has hundreds of new idioms and examples taken from our corpus. It also has more notes on the origins of idioms, notes to help with difficult vocabulary, study pages, exercises and cartoons to aid learning and add interest.

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Oxford Phrasal Verbs Dictionary for learners of English

Oxford Phrasal Verbs Dictionary for learners of English

Author/Editor: Oxford University Press
Publisher: Oxford University Press
Edition No.: 2nd Revised Edition
Publication Date: November 2006

Book Description:

The dictionary gives students the information they need to understand over 6,000 common British and American phrasal verbs, and use them correctly.
* Clear, simple definitions, with examples to show how phrasal verbs are used.
* Usage notes dealing with common problems help learners avoid typical mistakes.
* Synonyms and opposites help learners build their vocabulary.
* Common subjects and objects are shown to help learners use the verbs appropriately.
* 25 pages of tips and photocopiable exercises for classroom or individual practice.
* ‘Guide to the Particles’ explains the most important meanings of the main adverbs and prepositions used in phrasal verbs to help learners see patterns.

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Oxford Thesaurus of English

Oxford Thesaurus of English

Author/Editor: Maurice Waite, Oxford Dictionaries
Publisher: Oxford University Press
Edition No.: 3rd Revised Edition
Publication Date: 2009; December 2010

Book Description:

Developed using evidence from the Oxford English Corpus, this fully revised text offers more up-to-date and complete coverage of synonyms and antonyms than any other A-Z thesaurus. Increased coverage now includes hundreds of new phrases and idioms, and newly selected examples of real English showing how words are used, and helping to guide you to the right meaning. New features include the Word Toolkit which helps you choose the best word matches based on evidence from the Oxford English Corpus. In addition, the popular Word Link feature points you to related words. Look up ‘sleep’ and find the words ‘sedative’, ‘hypnotic’, and ‘soporific’, and find related prefixes. The redesigned centre section provides convenient lists of words by topic, from society and religion, to fashion and technology, in addition to lists of foreign, and archaic words and phrases. An invaluable resource for puzzlers, or anyone wishing to broaden their vocabulary. The Oxford Thesaurus of English is ideal for anyone who wants a comprehensive and authoritative thesaurus of current English, for use by writers and editors, students, and crossword and puzzle solvers at work or at home.

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Oxford Learner’s Thesaurus

Oxford Learner's Thesaurus

Author/Editor: Diana Lea, Jeniffer Bradbery, Richard Poole, Helen Warren
Publisher: Oxford University Press
Edition No.: New Edition
Publication Date: 2008

Book Description:

No two words are exactly the same. The Oxford Learner’s Thesaurus groups words with similar meanings and explains the differences between them. It helps students find the right words so they can say exactly what they mean when both speaking and writing. Students can also explore the entire Thesaurus on the interactive CD-ROM.

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If you are still in the early stage of learning British English, it is highly advisable to stick to this variety of the English language and only buy books and other learning resources that use this type of English. Consistency in spelling and vocabulary is of utmost importance. Only explore the other varieties of the English language when you have reached intermediate level. This way, your learning experience will be easier and smoother.