Dictionary Help

Use the Dictionary app to see definitions of words and phrases from a variety of sources.

Tip: You can also quickly look up words while you’re working in an app or browsing webpages.

The full Dictionary window showing a definition. Click any word or phrase in the definition to see its definition. To select a source to search, click its name in the source bar, located under the toolbar. Type a word or phrase into the search field.

You can open Dictionary from Launchpad (click the Launchpad icon in the Dock).

Open Dictionary for me

Search for a word or phrase in Dictionary

  • Type a word or phrase in the search field in the upper-right corner of the Dictionary window.

    Note: If you add another Dictionary source, wait for it to download completely before searching for a word or phrase. For information about adding sources, see “Customize Dictionary sources” below.

    While reading the definition, you’ll see links (blue text) to related words. In addition, you can hold the pointer over any word or phrase and click to look up its definition.

    When you look up a word in a definition, a SnapBack button appears in the search field. Click it to return to your starting definition. You can also swipe left or right on your trackpad or click the previous or next button in the toolbar of the Dictionary window to move between definitions you viewed.

Make text smaller or bigger

  • Click the font size buttons in the toolbar of the Dictionary window.

    You can also pinch with two fingers to zoom out or in.

Customize Dictionary sources

  • In Dictionary, choose Dictionary > Preferences. You can select and reorder sources, such as Spanish or Korean dictionaries. You can set options for a source, such as how to display pronunciations, or which language of Wikipedia to search. The sources you select here determine the sources shown in Dictionary and when you look up words.

Hide profanity

  • If you’re an administrator of a Mac, you can control other users’ access to inappropriate words. Just set up parental controls on the Mac, then select the Restrict explicit language in Dictionary checkbox in the Other pane of Parental Controls preferences. Once set, only an administrator can remove parental controls.

If you search for a word and Dictionary can’t find any results, the word may not be in the sources selected in Dictionary preferences, or parental controls may be set. If possible, Dictionary suggests alternative words.

You can also use Spotlight to get a quick definition. Click the magnifying glass icon in the upper-right corner of the screen, then type a word or phrase.