Hidden in plain sight within iOS 7.x’s built-in dictionary is the ability to add a few more dictionaries. So while you think you’re limited to U.S. English (or U.K, if you live in Europe), let’s add some more dictionaries to the “Define” feature on your iPhone or iPad.

A dictionary is preselected for you when you select a language (when you setup the iPhone/iPad) but it doesn’t mean you can’t change it. Also, it doesn’t change when you change the Keyboard language (Settings → General → Keyboard → Add Keyboard).

How to Add More Dictionaries To iOS 7 on iPhone and iPadBefore we dive in, let’s just brush up on iOS a little.

In iOS, you can “define” words to get their meaning from the built-in dictionary. The Define function is part of the context-menu (Cut, Copy, Paste) that shows up when you select a word.

You can select words in the Notepad, in Safari, from the text-field in Messages and more. When you select a word, you see this context-menu. Tapping the right arrow gives more options of which Define is one.

Tap Define and a dictionary opens up with the meaning of the word you just selected.

Manage Button in iDeviceDo you see the Manage button at the bottom left? Tap on it and you see a list of dictionaries that are available for download. As of iOS 7.1, Apple offers 12 dictionaries besides the two already in it (Apple Dictionary and English).

The dictionaries include British English, Italian, Spanish, German, French, Dutch, Korean, Korean-English, Simplified Chinese (2) and Simplified Japanese (2).

To download a new dictionary from the given list, just tap on the cloud icon and the dictionary will start to download.

Prior to iOS 7.1 and 7.0, the way you added dictionaries was handled differently. The new method is obviously much simpler although a little hidden.

Also check out how to get different keyboard layouts on iOS 7.

  • Liz

    I downloaded IOS8 And now my built in dictionary isn’t working. It has the circle symbol to the right of them. Won’t let me do anything.. Is there a way to delete them and re-download them?

    • You said circle.. is it just a circle icon or does it have a ‘x’ in it?
      If it’s just a circle icon, it looks like some error. You might have to
      try a general->reset-
      >reset settings.. or if it’s a circle
      with a ‘x’ in it, tap on it. That will delete the dictionary. Then,
      re-download it by tapping on the cloud icon.

      • Liz

        I’ve reset it twice and nothing has happened. :( it’s just circles…

        • Dennis

          Hi, did you find any work around for this?

  • md

    I want to a a Russian dictionary with the same ‘define’ function, how do I do this?

    • In iOS 8, you can follow the same steps and then select ‘Russian’ to
      download the Russian dictionary. Russian dictionary is not available in
      iOS 7 though.

      • Mark

        Dear thank you for the explanation,but a lot of us know how to add a dictionary from the list they provide but for me and for many more we want to add our own language which is not included The list soooo we need answers from Apple, that’s why I use Samsung because it is fixable it’s really funny when Apple lose a big part in market because of simple thing??