Common Sense Review
Updated May 2015

The Free Dictionary by Farlex

Vast word reference features tons of content and word games
Common Sense Rating 3
Teacher Rating (1 Teacher Review) 4
  • Dictionary can serve as a sort of daily home page, customized with horoscope.
  • Ads can be disabled with an in-app purchase.
  • Share interesting content with classmates or teachers.
  • Customize what you see on screen and which notifications you'd like to receive.
  • It works as a dictionary, too, letting users look up words one by one.
Pros
It's comprehensive, multilingual, and engaging, and games are fun for all vocab levels.
Cons
The interface is overwhelmingly busy.
Bottom Line
Powerful tool crammed full of games, classic reference information, and flexible controls.
Amanda Bindel
Common Sense Reviewer
Classroom teacher
Common Sense Rating 3
Engagement Is the product stimulating, entertaining, and engrossing? Will kids want to return? 3

Games, daily word notifications, news, and more pull users in, though the layout can be overwhelming.

Pedagogy Is learning content seamlessly baked-in, and do kids build conceptual understanding? Is the product adaptable and empowering? Will skills transfer? 3

Breadth and depth of content is impressive, as are the options for display, search, and language. Word games offer lots of ways to learn and practice vocab skills.

Support Does the product take into account learners of varying abilities, skill levels, and learning styles? Does it address both struggling and advanced students? 3

Fourteen world languages, translation, audio, and main page controls make the app accessible for non-native English speakers. Users can customize which features show up.

About our ratings and privacy evaluation.
How Can Teachers Use It?

With all the in-app games featured, you could create a vocabulary competition for students with those games or assemble your own in-class challenge. A couple of fun word-based games: Bookmark a list of grade-level words, then read definitions to see who can respond with the corresponding word fastest; or, bookmark a list of above-grade-level words, send one player out, and have other players make up definitions and write them down, along with the correct definition. Have the player come back and guess the correct definition.

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What's It Like?

The Free Dictionary by Farlex is a comprehensive dictionary app that includes standard definition info as well as audio, alternate definitions, translation, origins, and thesaurus entries. It can be toggled into 14 common world languages. The Customize button allows users to toggle 12 main page daily updates. At the top of the screen, users type words into the text box for word searches or expand for advanced search options, bookmarks, settings (such as larger fonts), and sharing.

Content spans encyclopedic, legal, medical, and financial knowledge from numerous publisher sources (like McGraw-Hill, Houghton Mifflin, and HarperCollins) and from Wikipedia, and the tool provides alternate sources as well as citations for each search. Daily updates include Word of the Day, Article of the Day, Quote of the Day, This Day in History, and Weather. There's no general explanation of how to read entries, but the help section on the website gives thorough guidance. Flexible search options like "starts with," "ends with," and "one click lookup" make it easier to find words when kids aren't sure of the spelling. Users can post word entries or share other content to Facebook or Twitter, or send via SMS or email.

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Is It Good For Learning?

This is an impressive, content-rich dictionary app. Upper-elementary students will want to play "Hangman," "Spelling Bee," and "Words within Words." Middle and high school students can perform word searches to improve spelling, determine the meanings of words across the disciplines, understand figurative language, acquire domain-specific vocabulary, and, finally, apply all these skills to writing activities including citing sources. Offering the ability to share, change font size or language, customize daily updates, and use audio and voice recognition, The FREE Dictionary by Farlex is appropriate and engaging for kids of almost all ages (the app includes objective and non-glorified definitions of sex, drugs, and curse words, but so do all good dictionaries).

Places for improvement: Design isn't as slick as it could be, but it's worth the trade-off for all the other quality features. In fact, the only feature lacking is built-in voice recognition, but the device's built-in features for voice recognition work well here.

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See how teachers are using The Free Dictionary by Farlex