As an English Philology student, so often I find difficult to understand the meaning of some words. I came across this language resource when one of the English teachers asked me to do a folder to include all unknown words at the beginning of the course. From all the available resources on the net, Cambridge Dictionary Online is one of the most ingenious dictionaries I have ever used.This tool is not only helpful in order to find many words that are not understood when reading, but it is also appropriate for translation tasks as it offers very accurate definitions and examples. Even if CDO is thought for non native English speakers, it may also be interesting for native speakers as it offers a full range of features.

Background about the creator (Cambridge University Press ELT):

  • Cambridge University Press ELT was established in the mid 1970s, and within thirty years has become one of the world’s leading publishers of ELT material. We now account for over a quarter of Cambridge Publishing’s sales revenue and over a half of all publications sold.
  • The quality of Cambridge’s ELT list is achieved by extremely close collaboration between in-house editors, all of whom have teaching experience and qualifications, and the teaching profession. Extensive market research precedes the development of new materials which are then piloted in schools in many parts of the world. We produce not only books but CDs, videos, CD-Roms and, increasingly, Web-based materials. ELT publications are sold to almost every country in the world and promoted by representatives based in 67 countries.
  • Cambridge ELT first earned its reputation as a publisher of materials for adults, but, in response to ever larger number of young children learning English, the list’s range is expanding. The oldest Press in the world now provides for even the youngest learners.

What can the Cambridge International Corpus do for students?

* Cambridge learner’s dictionaries, grammar and vocabulary learning materials, and examination, business and general English course books have all benefited from the information in the corpus.

* The corpus is constantly being added to so it’s always got current contemporary language in it and we can prioritise grammar and vocabulary that is most frequent and most useful.

* There is a huge range of types of material in the Cambridge International Corpus we can always find real examples that sound natural and realistic. So, the examples used, although they may sometimes be edited or adapted, are a reflection of real usage in real contexts; they are not invented.

* By using spoken corpora we can learn very important things about social communication. As a result, the activities in corpus-informed materials can focus on the most important features of speaking and listening skills and produce more effective communication.

About Cambridge Dictionaries Online:

– Cambridge University Press has been publishing dictionaries for learners of English since 1995.

– Cambridge Dictionaries Online has been offering many dictionaries completely free of charge since 1999.


– On the website there is The Cambridge SMART Thesaurus which organizes words and phrases into topics: When you look up a word in a selected topic, you can see other entries in that topic on the right-hand side – a group of words that are related to the word you looked up. The words in the cloud are bigger or smaller depending on how frequently they are used.

– You can keep in touch with the web’s favourite learner dictionaries through Twitter. Follow CambridgeWords and you’ll get regular Word of the Day updates, as well as being informed whenever they update the site.

– You can also choose to search their Learner’s, American English, Idiom, and Phrasal Verbs dictionaries online. Each entry includes the part of speech, definition, a short sentence or phrase, and phonetics.

– The Cambridge Dictionary Online includes The top 40 that is a list which shows the 40 entries that were clicked on most frequently in August 2009.

– You’ll find updated data with hundreds of words and examples from the latest edition of Cambridge Advanced Learner’s Dictionary. Their dictionary entries include thousands of example sentences chosen specifically by dictionary editors to illustrate the meanings.

How does it works:

– If we wish to find a certain word or term, we just have to type the word we are looking for and press the “search” button, and we will come up with all the existing definitions of the word.

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

1. Noun: Book

2. Verb: Put

3. Adjective: Rich

4. Preposition: On

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.


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

Cambridge Dictionaries Online: Coward

Collins English Dictionary: Coward


On the one hand, as it can be apreciated, the Cambridge Dictionaries Online offers a variety of things that are very useful in a dictionary:

•Sentences which help us to understand better the meaning of the word we have looked up.

•A voice that pronounce in British and American English in order to teach the user to pronounce correctly.

•The phonetics of the word we have chosen.

•A visual thesaurus which is also very helpful to see words connected with the word we have searched.


On the other hand, the Collins English Dintionary does not have those caracteristics as it doesn’t give sentences nor pronunciation. Collins just shows the definition of the word we have looked up. However, it provides other things which are very useful:
•There are the French, Spanish, Italian and German online versions which are bilingual always regarding English.
•Collins English Dictionary online also offers a free translation service. This service offers real-time translation in 552 language combinations.
• 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
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



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