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Top French Dictionary Software

Find the best French dictionary for you

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If you spend a lot of time reading/writing French, especially on the computer, having a good French dictionary program (or two) can make life a lot easier. I purchased several French dictionary programs and can't remember what life was like without them. Based on my own preferences as well as extensive research, here are the best French dictionary programs you can buy. (Most of these are difficult to find outside of France; you might want to order several items to minimize shipping costs.)

1. Le Grand Robert - a veritable encyclopedia of the French language

Le Grand Robert is a single, infinitely useful CD-ROM containing the contents of 6 enormous books. Version 3 includes 100,000 words and 350,000 quotations and has an attractive and easy-to-use interface. Each entry includes pronunciation, etymology, historical uses, register, regionalities, and numerous examples, and everything is hypertexted. (French)

2. Le Petit Robert

If you want the best dictionary without the Grand price tag, his Petit cousin is your best bet: 60,000 terms, 40,000 quotations, 16,000 sound files, and hypertext everything. (French only)

3. Le Grand Robert Collins French Dictionary

This unabridged software version of the classic Collins-Robert dictionary is a wonderful replacement to your desk copy. What I particularly like about it is the ability to search within an entry. For example, if you want to know what faire partie means, you look up faire and discover a huge entry that it would take a long time to find partie in. But you just type partie into the secondary box and the software will highlight that term within the faire entry. (French-English)

4. Larousse multidico

This is a very nice program that combines 10 reference works in one: a dictionary, thesaurus, grammar, and verb conjugator, plus tools for homonyms, language difficulties, expressions, quotations, letter writing, and word finder (the latter lets you search for words by letter combination or origin). The interface is a bit simplistic and the definitions are nowhere near as detailed as in Robert, but this is a very nice set of programs for the price. (French only)

5. Le petit Larousse

This multimedia dictionary includes definitions for 59,000 words and 29,000 proper nouns, plus more than 2,000 images, 300 interactive maps, and 200 sound files. This dictionary more than makes up for the somewhat limited definitions (in comparison to Robert) with interactivity, color images, and an intuitive interface. (French only)

6. Oxford Hachette French Dictionary

360,000 terms are available in the dictionary, along with text-to-speech software that allows you listen to the pronunciation of individual words and phrases. Entries also include cultural notes, grammar and usage information, and verb tables. (French-English)
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