Dictionary - Merriam-Webster

No-frills reference isn't highly engaging but gets the job done

Learning rating

Community rating

Based on 8 reviews

Privacy rating

Expert evaluation by Common Sense



Subjects & Skills

Character & SEL, Critical Thinking, English Language Arts, English-Language Learning

Price: Free
Platforms: Android, iPad, iPhone, iPod Touch, Kindle Fire, Windows, Web

Pros: Shorter definitions are better for younger students.

Cons: This dictionary has less functionality than its rivals, and the Word of the Day feature isn't very engaging.

Bottom Line: This comprehensive classic reference has easy-to-read entries, although the voice-recognition system needs work.

It's a dictionary. You can use it to look up words, or to teach students how to look up words. But there are no games or pictures.

Dictionary - Merriam-Webster is -- shocker -- an online dictionary. It has an intuitive interface, and concise entries include pronunciation with a "say it" button, part of speech, multiple definitions, origin, first use, synonyms for a range of disciplines, and geographical, biographical, historical, and scientific terms.

The bottom of the main page offers Dictionary, Recent, Favorites, Daily, and More buttons. You can search by tapping the microphone icon and saying a word, or by tapping the magnifying glass to type. Recent keeps track of your search history, and a star at the top of each entry lets you add words to a favorites list. The Daily button gives a word of the day with usage examples and a "Did you know?" section that has dry, factual information rather than engaging and thoughtful analysis. The More button allows users to give feedback, rate the app, post a word to Facebook or Twitter, or send a word in an email.

Entries are a tad more accessible for younger students, with a larger and bolder font and less content than Dictionary.com. Unfortunately, there are no built-in games, no illustrations (except in the premium version), only rarely links within entries, and none of the front matter found in the traditional book format to help students learn how to read entries.

Unlike Dictionary.com, Dictionary - Merriam-Webster's voice recognition offers alternatives, though they're sometimes absurd, like single letters or words or phrases with no entry. Unfortunately, the voice-recognition feature seems to foul up data connections (which it relies on for matches), can hang up searches, and sometimes goes down entirely.

Learning Rating

Overall Rating

Dictionary - Merriam-Webster is a reference tool with little in the way of built-in engagement. You get no pictures (although the premium version has pictures) and few links within entries.


Some customization and continuity but no information on how to read entries. No dictionary-based games.


The interface is intuitive and easy to navigate. There are no extensions or links to www.m-w.com, and voice recognition is inconsistent.

Common Sense reviewer

Community Rating

Clean interface, authoritative, to-the-point

For quick reference, the mobile app is faster than logging on to the excellent website version and keeps the favorites list for personalization and review. There's really no fluff, just clear definitions, and interesting facts. The Word-of-the-Day narratives are usually engaging, and encourage students to think about how words and their meanings develop and continue to develop. The audio pronunciations are a great aid, especially with high school vocabulary and SAT practice. The app also allows students to copy and share definitions to notes or social media.

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Privacy Rating

Data Safety How safe is this product?

  • Unclear whether this product supports interactions between trusted users.
  • Personal information can be displayed publicly.
  • User-created content is not filtered for personal information before being made publicly visible.

Data Rights What rights do I have to the data?

  • Users can create or upload content.
  • Processes to access or review user data are available.
  • Processes to modify data are available for authorized users.

Ads & Tracking Are there advertisements or tracking?

  • Personal information is not shared for third-party marketing.
  • Traditional or contextual advertisements are displayed.
  • Personalised advertising is displayed.

Continue reading about this tool's privacy practices, including data collection, sharing, and security.

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