First Review: Collins English Dictionary Online


In the last few weeks, I have been working quite a lot with online dictionaries. At the beginning, I started using WordReference whenever I needed to look up a word. However, I realised that it was rather confusing when looking up a word due to the large number of translations that it offered just for a single word, mainly from English into Spanish and viceversa. Therefore, I became interested in monolingual online dictionaries and that is why I focused my interest on Collins online language dictionaries and thesaurus.

Before making it available on the internet, the printed version appeared known as Collins English Dictionary. It was published by HarperCollins, a publishing company owned by News Corporation. Nowadays, they have developed an important collection of dictionaries, not only regarding English, but also many other languages such as German, Spanish or Italian, among others. It is, in fact, due to their great success, that the company has decided to make it available on the internet for free in the following website:


I would like to give some examples of what the online dictionary can offer to all users, focusing mainly on its monolingual usage:

  • Verb: Speak

  • Noun: Car

  • Preposition: Up

  • Adjective: Quick 


As it can be appreciated, if the dictionary finds that there are other words or expressions that also contain the word that is being looked up, it provides the possibility of choosing between one or another in order to make the research as accurate as possible. At the same time, it is also worth pointing out how it gives proper descriptions or definitions bearing in mind the different possible meanings of a word, as in the case of up.



In this section of my review, I would like to compare the kind of explanations or definitions that Collins Online Dictionary offers as opposed to the Urban Online Dictionary:

Collins Online Dictionary : Bitch                                                                                                    

Urban Online Dictionary: Bitch


Collins Online Dictionary tends to be more polite and serious than Urban Online Dictionary. Yet, the Urban Online Dictionary offers something that the Collins Dictionary does not, that is pictures, for example, this is the picture that can be found when the word bitch is looked up:




According to, their main objective is:

“The purpose of Collins dictionaries is simple: to take as sharp and as true a picture of language as possible. Every month we feed more data into our database. This means that Collins dictionaries remain up to date which in turn ensures that when you use a Collins dictionary, you are one of the best-informed language users in the world.”



Regarding the English online version, it should be mentioned that the dictionary is monolingual and, therefore, it only provides definitions of words and maybe some synonyms and fixed expressions. Opposing this, there are the French, Spanish, Italian and German online versions which are bilingual always regarding English, that is: French-English/English-French, Spanish-English/English-Spanish, Italian-English/English-Italian and German-English/English-German.



Moreover, it should be worth pointing out that Collins English Dictionary online also offers a free translation service. This service offers real-time translation in 552 language combinations for Arabic, Bulgarian, Chinese, Croatian, Czech, Danish, Dutch, English, Finnish, French, German, Greek, Hindi, Italian, Japanese, Korean, Norwegian, Polish, Portuguese, Romanian, Russian, Spanish and Swedish languages. It also provides:

  • Virtual Keyboard – allows text input in more than 40 languages
  • Spell-checker – checks spelling in 8 languages
  • Dictionary – provides words search and translation in 20 language pairs
  • Decoder – converts unreadable Russian text to the proper encoding
  • Transliteration – displays Russian text with Latin characters
  • Printing – prints original or translated text
  • Email – sends email in more than 40 languages
  • Interface localization – 11 languages


To conclude with the review, I am going to check how the translation service works, from English into Spanish, although there are many other language, but probably these two will be the most developed ones.

Original text

The Prime Minister, Gordon Brown, has been overheard describing an exchange he had with a female voter in Rochdale as a ‘disaster’, calling her a ‘bigoted woman’.
Gillian Duffy, a 66-year-old widow, told Gordon Brown that she was concerned about immigration from Eastern Europe.

In the video, Mr Brown can be heard responding to her and appears to end the conversation amicably, telling her she came from a ‘good family’.

But as he got into his car and sped away with his microphone still on, he can be heard berating his staff for allowing the encounter.

He told an aide: ‘That was a disaster. Should never have put me with that woman. Whose idea was that?’

When the aide said they did not know who was responsible, the Prime Minister snapped: ‘ridiculous’.

His companion suggested that television crews who filmed the encounter, in a residential street in Rochdale, would not broadcast it.

But Mr Brown said: ‘They will use it.’

The aide asked what Mrs Duffy had said, and Mr Brown replied: ‘Everything. She’s just a sort of bigoted woman who says she used to be Labour.’

Translated version

El Primer Ministro, Gordon Brown, ha sido oído por casualidad describiendo un cambio que él tenía con un votante femenino en Rochdale como “un desastre”, llamándola “a una mujer intolerante”. 
 Gillian Duffy, una viuda de 66 años, dijo a Gordon Brown que ella estuvo preocupada por la inmigración de Europa del Este. 
 En el vídeo, Sr. Brown puede ser oído respondiéndole y parece terminar la conversación cordialmente, diciéndola ella vino “de una familia buena”. 
 Pero cuando él entró en su coche y se apresuró lejos con su micrófono todavía en, él puede ser oído reprobando su personal para permitir el encuentro. 
 Él dijo a un ayudante: “era un desastre. Nunca debería haberme puesto con aquella mujer. ¿Idea de quién era esto?” 
 Cuando el ayudante dijo que ellos no sabían quién era responsable, el Primer Ministro se rompió: “ridículo”. 
 Su compañero sugirió que los equipos de televisión que filmaron el encuentro, en una calle residencial en Rochdale, no lo transmitieran. 
 Pero Sr. Brown dijo: “ellos lo usarán.” 
 El ayudante preguntó a lo que Sra Duffy había dicho, y Sr. Brown contestó: “todo. Ella es sólo una especie de mujer intolerante que dice que ella solía ser de Trabajo.”



From my point of view, the Collins Online Dictionary is very complete, in the sense that it provides accurate descriptions and definitions of words as well as good translations of words with regard to the bilingual dictionaries available on the net. At the same time, the translation service seems to be a good tool and, although some mistakes can be appreciated, in general, it works fine. And, of course, it is not a complicated dictionary and everything is explained clearly step by step.

Information sources:


2 thoughts on “First Review: Collins English Dictionary Online

  1. woordenboek engels July 17, 2011 / 11:17 am

    Online translation is impressive.. still I prefer a paper dictionary – zo I can feel the words.

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