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Merriam-Webster App or Dictionary.com App?


I have been trying to find a good dictionary app for my son. After some search, Merriam-Webster Dictionary and Dictionary.com became the top two choices. Both are pretty good, but I don’t want to load too many apps on the iPAD, so I picked Merriam-Webster (Free). Here are the reasons:

Intrusive ads: Both apps have free versions. The main difference between paid version and the free version is running ads in the free version. Dictionary.com has two ads at the same time: one at the bottom of the screen, one at the right top corner of the screen, taking a big chunk of screen space. It is quite intrusive, hard to ignore. For kids, especially kids still in elementary school, this is going to be a big distraction. Merriam-Webster Free app also has ad. However it only has one ad on each screen, and it is at the bottom of the screen.

Voice search limits: Both apps have “Voice Search” function. I think this is a very useful feature for kids. When kids want to use a word in their homework, but don’t know how to spell the word, they can speak the word facing the app, the app will search the word and bring the word with the explanation to the kids. Merriam-Webster Free doesn’t have a limit on how many times you can use the function. Dictionary.com Free version only gives you 5 “voice search”. If you want more, you have to pay to upgrade.

The new voice feature does require new dictionary skills, such as speaking clearly and slowly, ability to tell the different words with the same pronunciation.

Size of content: Looking at app size (how much space the app takes on your iPAD), Merriam-Webster’s size is about half of the dictionary.com size. It may have less word entries or example sentences, but for kids, it should have enough for homework and projects.

Features both free apps have:

* Integrated Thesaurus: Synonyms & Antonyms
* Example Sentences
* Audio Pronunciations
* Word of the Day
* Favorites
* Recent History – lets you keep track of the words you’ve looked up

iGameMom Comments:

Both dictionary apps are good. Merriam-Webster Free, with less intrusive ads and unlimited voice search, is better for younger kids, such as those in elementary school, or even middle school. Dictionary.com Free, carrying more information, but with intrusive ads, is better for upper middle and high school kids.

If you would like to check it out or purchase it, please use the App Store button provided below. The cost is the same to you, but iGameMom gets a small percentage. Thanks for your support! Note: The button works for all countries.
Merriam-Webster: Merriam-Webster Dictionary App
Dictionary.com: Dictionary.com App

{ 110 comments… add one }
  • Amol

    Are there inappropriate words and content for elementary students included in either app?

    • Do you mean in the dictionary? These are complete dictionaries I believe.

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  • Michele Turner

    Great blog post. As both a mom of three school-aged kids and the CEO of Dictionary.com I found it really interesting. Actually, our free iOS app only has one ad, now at the bottom of the page, however we also have interstitial ads in our blog content. As a parent what I’d really recommend to you and any of your readers is our premium app which contains all of our dictionaries, including a learner’s dictionary that is terrific for kids, rhymes, example sentences, an encyclopedia – and it’s ad free! It’s the only dictionary you’ll ever need on a device. (We will update Android soon!)

    • Thanks Michele for the update. It is hard to keep up with all the changes for each app, appreciate your input.

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  • This is a great idea for a post. I’ll keep in mind what you said about dictionary.com. Thanks for checking out my blog.

  • Your review was very helpful. I think I will do the Merriam Webster app but I am going to keep my hardbound Webster’s on the shelf as well.

  • Thanks for the information. I think I will do the Merriam Webster app but I am going to keep my hardbound Webster’s on my shelf as well. Thanks.

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  • This was really helpful. My daughter is just getting to the spelling stage. With the help of your post, I won’t have to spend time researching the best app for us. Thanks!

    • Glad iGameMom is helpful! There are some more spelling apps. Here is a quick link: https://igamemom.com/?s=spelling. All I did was typed “spelling” in the search box on the middle of the sidebar on the left. There are might be one or two apps shown up are not exactly spelling apps, but most of them are. Hope you find the list helpful!

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  • Hi
    Thanks for liking my latest blog post. I do not have this app but use it online sometimes. In fact, I did not know what an app was until now, when I realised it was short for application!

    • I started using Merriam-Webster online also. The app is more convenient and has some more functions.

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  • Good advice for all age students, not just elementary school. Thanks for the information!

  • Hi there, I enjoy reading all of your post.
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  • I have links to both dictionaries on my classroom website. As you pointed out, each site has its advantages. I use Dictionary.com more because it aligns more closely with the vocabulary standards, and most of what my students need can be found in each entry: meaning, part of speech, synonyms, word origin and etymology, Greek and Latin roots, and related forms. As for Merriam-Webster, my students love the free Scrabble Zone.

    • Thanks for the input! I have not used the websites much. This is very helpful to know.

  • You have a great site for parents, teachers, and kids. I can’t believe I didn’t know about it before today…extremely informative and “cuts to the chase.” Thanks so much.

  • I liked your review, and agree wholeheartedly about Merriam-Webster being superior. As a high school teacher, I have one word of caution about Dictionary.com: they have A LOT of errors; typos, misprints and definitions that had me scratching my head. After a number of such ‘Huh?’ moments, I have tried to disaude my students from using it, much as I have Wikipedia.

    • Thank you Mark for your inputs. It is always good to know the good and bad of each app, especially when the inputs are from a high school teacher!

  • Yen

    This is a good review! It just confirmed that I made the right choice in downloading the free Merriam-Webster app. I’m very satisfied with it and so far it has been very useful in my tutorials. 🙂 Thanks for sharing your thoughts.

    • You are welcome! and thanks for your feedback on the app too. It helps to understand other’s point of view. 🙂

  • Thanks for the like on my recent blog post. I am going to tell my daughter about your blog – she is a teacher and a mother, and she will definitely appreciate your posts!

    • Thanks for sharing iGameMom info. Hope your daughter will like it here.

  • Camhy

    Thanks! I teach ESL students and was just given an IPad for school use. I will, of course, be concentrating heavily on teaching vocabulary, so this advice is very timely.

    • Great. There are some other language apps for ESl. I am in the processs writting the reviews. Please come back for more app info.

  • Misanthropy

    I have had both apps on my device for a while but had no idea which to use. JUST today I took an interest in them again today and decided to look to see if there was a fair review around. This was VERY helpful! Thank you!

  • Thanks for the heads-up! That will be a perfect app for my daughter as she enters high school. 🙂

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