Google translate is improving at an astonishing rate: what it can do is very impressive. It can be a valuable tool for comprehension, i.e. for quickly getting the main points of a web page in German (or another foreign language), especially if you're just starting out in German. If you're trying to say or write something in German, be very wary of the results you get from an online translator. Use your common sense and your knowledge of German to check and correct the results. In general, you will learn much more from trying to construct (and understand) sentences on your own, working with the German you have learned, than from using Google Translate, just as you will get more exercise from lifting weights yourself than from having an athlete do it for you. If you are a University of Michigan student, please do NOT use online translators for writing your German essays - see the specific guidelines preceding each essay assignment!
- Google Translate Google's free online translation service: very convenient, constantly improving, and available in many languages. No other online translator can currently match this tool, so I've removed the other links that used to be in this section.
- GTS Website Translator This looks like a great tool for going beyond what Google Translate can do in terms of translating a website: you can download and edit the results, crowdsource translations etc.
- Of the dictionaries listed below, PONS, dict.cc and LEO are included in the links in the left-hand navigation bar on this site.
online dictionary This organizes results by categories of meaning the way a paper dictionary would,
as opposed to just returning a word list from which
you need to draw your own conclusions. ==> EXTREMELY highly recommended!
- dict.cc Extremely "efficient" and personalizable. The most common translations of a word are given first. Results are also organized by part of speech (noun/verb etc.), and by the number of words in the expression. Greatest feature are the user-generated pronunciation samples. Powerful "wild card" search function, e.g. *issen returns all German words ending in "-issen." Click on "Tips" and "FAQ" below the search bar to see more things you can do (e.g. integration into Word, Chrome etc.). Click on "i" next to a word for lots of additional info about it - e.g. go to Canoo and then click "Wortformen" to see verb conjugations and noun declinations. The "More information" section at the bottom of each page lists relevant forum discussions, similar words, and your own recent searches (once you enable this feature). ==> EXTREMELY highly recommended.
- LEO English/German Dictionary Perhaps slightly less well organized than dict.cc, but still very efficient. Best features are (a) easy access to verb forms and noun plurals (including a convenient table icon for immediate access to complete verb conjugations and noun declinations), and (b) the discussion forums, which are a great place to go for tricky translation questions. ==> EXTREMELY highly recommended!
- linguee.com This online dictionary incorporates a search engine that provides access to large amounts of bilingual, translated sentence pairs, enabling you to see the word or phrase you're looking for translated in context. ==> VERY highly recommended.
- WordReference.com Online version of the 2008 Oxford-Duden Pocket German Dictionary, with entries for each word grouped logically in meaningful groups. ==> Highly recommended.
- Hueber Online-Wörterbuch Similar to the PONS online dictionary above, just slightly less reliable and comprehensive, and slightly less user-friendly ==> Highly recommended!
- BEOLINGUS (TU Chemnitz)
This dictionary does an excellent job of listing the collocations (i.e. typical word combinations) and different classes of meaning of each word, and also provides some convenient verb conjugations. ==> Highly recommended!
- woxikon Multilingual dictionary. In addition to returning "regular" dictionary results, it provides a (somewhat random) list of translated examples of the word used in context, like linguee.com (see above). It also lists other related results from the Woxikon site, such as synonyms, sayings ("Sprüche"), quotes ("Zitate") and jokes ("Witze") incorporating the search term. ==> Recommended!
- bab.la This online dictionary offers good translations (for multiple languages besides German-English), lists relevant collocations, and provides a sound icon allowing you to hear each word pronounced. The site also offers vocabulary trainers, quizzes, games and a language forum, and the opportunity to add or share content. ==> Recommended!
- ProZ Technical Translation Database This site lets you search a variety of databases for translations of technical terms in a wide range of technical and professional disciplines.
Online This online dictionary works quickly as
its name indicates, and is somewhat customizable.
It's greatest strength relative to other online dictionaries
lies in its emphasis on the variety of possible translations
of a given term. It is not good at helping you
choose between the basic alternative meanings of a
word (it just returns an alphabetical list),
but it is excellent if you're searching for idiomatic
usages of a word: e.g. searching for "cold" returned
more than 200 matches (3/10) ranging from 4 terms for "cold"
to expressions for "are cold" ("to be cold"
is further down the alphabetical list), "cold comfort," "cold front,"
and "cold sweat," for example. 300,000 entries 12/10.
- Student Online German English Spanish Dictionary Returns somewhat arbitrarily sorted word lists, but remains on this list because at the bottom of each list of results, you get a fun quotation (e.g.: "boy: a noise with dirt on it").
- ODGE.de Online Dictionary German English. 210,000 entries 3/10; a fun feature is that you can choose to see all the entries listed alphabetically.
Multilingual Dictionary The translation results are rather busy and hard to really make use of, but there are some neat features, such as links to Google image (or text) searches for certain words, or to wikipedia entries, or passages using the word in context.
- lingo24.com This site provides an interesting online English-German translation tool that lists sample professionally translated sentences as a way to give you a feel for the different possible meanings of a word. Fewer entries than most online dictionaries, but an interesting resource for choosing the appropriate translation of more common words. The site also provides a German language paraphrasing tool.
Usage Advice Dictionaries
- Wortschatz Universität Leipzig (Link is in the sidebar of all pages using this template: "Wortschatz Deutsch"): Enter a word into the search window and then scroll down. "Part of" shows you phrases/collocations including your word. Further down, click to expand the "Cooccurrences," "Left Neighbor" and "Right Neighbor" sections. These will show you which words most frequently appear with, to the left of, and to the right of your word. This is VERY useful for figuring out how to use a new word! Note: I recommend ignoring the "Examples" section, as the examples are usually too random and complex to reveal any useful patterns.
- DWDS: Das digitale Wörterbuch der deutschen Sprache Awesome site that will give you a detailed list of possible meanings for each word, as well as a lengthy list of usage examples.
- Woxikon - Synonyme Excellent synonym dictionary. Organizes the synonyms by categories of meaning.
- Wortschatz Universität Leipzig (Link is in the sidebar of all pages using this template: "Wortschatz Deutsch"): Provides synonyms for any word you enter, but interprets the "synonym" concept very broadly, so what you are getting is more a list of related words. The usage information provided by this site is much more useful - see description under "Usage Advice Dictionaries" above!
- BBC: Cool German Very user-friendly. Organized by topic. For each topic, you see and hear a series of expressions, including brief explanatory notes on their meaning and use.
- about.com: German Words to Avoid Comes with its own warning, so none added here.
- superslang.de Interactive slang site with definitions and examples provided by users (hence obviously frequently offensive)
for Americans - A Phrase Book A humorous page with a wide range of sample
phrases in the Viennese dialect, ranging from "Wieso kinnt's ia Deppn net
wia jeda nuamle mensch a emericen redn?" [="Why don't you [fools] just speak
American like everybody else?"] to "Hoid da Goschn!" [="Shut the %#$#* up!"].
For each phrase, you are given the English equivalent [as opposed to a literal
translation], the Viennese phrase [unfortunately, it's often hard to tell from the transliteration what "standard German" words the terms used correspond to--e.g. the transliteration used for "Grüß Gott" is "Griass God"], and a flippant transcription of how an
American might attempt to pronounce the phrase. Please be warned that this page includes some strong and possibly offensive language!
- Lexikon der Jugendsprache Created by 8th grade students in a Gesamtschule in Duisburg in 1997. Becoming somewhat dated, but a useful source of some common slang expressions.
- Detlev Mahnert: Neue Trends in der Jugendsprache This page contains general information on "Jugendsprache," as well as a variety of concrete examples (especially of "Kanakisch," a recent genre of slang with Turkish-German origins), and, at the bottom of the page, an up-to-date list of some basic slang expressions.
Wörterbuch der Jugendsprache A selection of 350 or so current slang expressions, updated annually, and compiled by
PONS on the basis of a contest in schools.
Very professionally done and up-to-date, but omits
most of the simpler words like "geil," "checken," "ätzend" etc. that you'll probably want to learn first, and that even older Germans would be likely to understand. Sometimes the entire dictionary is available online, sometimes you can only see excerpts or e-cards with selected expressions. Search for "PONS Wörterbuch der Jugendsprache" online, or order it from amazon.de.
- Warmduscher A few years ago, a craze for creative ways of calling someone a "wuss" evolved in Germany, taking creative advantage of the ease with which compound nouns are formed in German. A "Saunauntensitzer," for example, is a wuss because s/he sits on the lowest tier of seats in the sauna, where it is not as hot. This link takes you to a list of about 2000 creative examples. The "Best of" list may be a good place to start.
The following links are provided here because they include some interesting slang terms, but many of the entries are very obscene/offensive ==> please do not visit these links in class, unless your instructor has specifically asked you to! If you're an instructor and the presence of these links causes problems in your class, please email me and I'll remove them!
sagt man? A compilation of responses from the
AATG Listserv to questions about items difficult to
find in ordinary dictionaries. Contains lots
of very practical and fun info, though it's not always
- Reime bei Woxikon Rhyming dictionary! Currently (2017) this returns very odd and unhelpful results, but if the algorithm is improved, this could be a great resource.