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Languages & Linguistics: Dictionaries & Encyclopedias Searching Tips

This guide is intended to assist students and researchers find resources in Languages and Linguistics. Click on the tabs on this page to uncover detailed lists of information sources to help answer your questions.

Begin your research by finding basic information about the topic. Browse Dictionaries, Encyclopedia or handbook to explore more and investigate a topic! 

How to search for dictionaries & encyclopedias


There are more dictionaries & encyclopedias available in the library.
Search the library catalog by combining the subject with "dictionaries" or "encyclopedias":


english dictionaries
linguistics encyclopedias
phonetics dictionaries
language encyclopedias 

Why use Dictionaries?


Using a dictionary will help you:

  • understand the learning material and your assignment questions. This is very important because if you misinterpret even one word in an assignment, you risk getting the answer wrong.
  • choose the most appropriate words so that your writing is clear, interesting and reads well.
  • use words correctly so that you say what you mean and your writing is easy to understand.
  • spell words correctly – incorrect spelling may be penalised in assignments, and it certainly gives a bad impression.
  • spell words correctly – incorrect spelling may be penalised in assignments, and it certainly gives a bad impression.
  • build your vocabulary - looking up a word not only helps you understand and use that word but the process of looking it up helps fix the word in your memory.


There are a number of different kinds of dictionaries depending on the word you’re looking up and what you want to know about it.

  • Monolingual (one language), or explanatory dictionaries, e.g. English-English dictionaries.
  • Bilingual (two languages) dictionaries, e.g. English - Arabic
  • Polyglot (more than two languages) dictionaries, e.g. English - Arabic- Malay
  • Specialised dictionaries, e.g. dictionaries for specific subjects (such as linguistics), technical terms, abbreviations, idioms, quotations, slang or jargon, etc.
  • Thesauruses, i.e. dictionaries of synonyms (words with the same meaning) and antonyms (words with the opposite meaning).

Why use Encyclopedia?

Encyclopedias are a type of reference book that are used to look up information and facts. They can provide a general background on a particular topic, provides definitions, explains various events, and provides illustrations. 

Use encyclopedias:

  • for summaries
  • for lists of further reading
  • when starting a project