As you might know, you can define words on your iPad, iPhone, or iPod touch on the fly thanks to the native dictionaries on the system, a feature first introduced on iOS 5 back in 2011. Simply tap on a word until the contextual menu pops up, then select Define from the options and voilà!
If you're using more than just the English language on your iOS device, you'll be happy to know that the same can be done in a multitude of languages as well. Setting up foreign language dictionaries on your iOS device is pretty straightforward, though the option is tucked away, so I'll show you how to unlock your iOS device's polyglot powers in no time.
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For demonstration purposes, I will use the Notes app, but this can be done in many different apps on your iOS device.
If it's text that you're currently writing or text in a draft, like in the Notes, Mail, and Messages apps, simply double-tap on a word to highlight it to bring up the contextual menu, then select the Define option. (You might need to hit the arrows to scroll through the options if you don't see it.)
For any other text, like on webpages in Safari or in the Apple News app, tap-and-hold on the word until it's highlighted, then select Define (it will not work in the Messages app for sent/received messages).
You'll see the native iOS dictionary come to life, and on the lower left, there is an option called Manage—tap it to continue.
You will see a huge list of foreign language dictionaries, some of which include:
- American English
- British English
- Simplified Chinese
Simply scroll through the list and tap the download button (cloud icon with arrow pointing down) to begin the download. Definitions aren't available for all languages, but the most common ones are here.
Now, when you want to define a word in a foreign language, simply select the Define option from the contextual menu and there it is. And as you can see, some languages, like Spanish, even offer a translation back to English.
Naturally, the downloaded dictionaries are available offline, making them even more useful.
If, for whatever reason, you want to get rid of a dictionary, simply go through the process outlined above to get to the list of dictionaries available. Swipe left on the language you want to remove, which will reveal the red Delete button; tap on it to remove the dictionary.