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iGBHow-toHow to use iPhone's Built-in Dictionary

How to use iPhone’s Built-in Dictionary

Did you know your iPhone has a built-in dictionary that makes writing so easy? When you know how to use it, you never have to open a separate dictionary app to look up the meaning of words while chatting or reading.

The built-in dictionary on iPhone features many languages. And you can download as many as you want. There’s the New Oxford American Dictionary, Oxford Thesaurus of English, and more for the English part, though.

With these, your iPhone can even serve as an instant translator. Keep reading to see how you can use your iPhone’s built-in dictionary.

Enable the iPhone dictionary

You can find the iPhone’s built-in dictionary in your phone Settings. So, to enable a dictionary in any specific language, you only need to go into the dictionary Settings to download and activate it from the language listing.

Use the following steps to achieve this:

  1. Open Settings on iPhone.
  2. Go to General → Dictionary.
  3. Tap a dictionary you wish to use. You’ll see a download progress circle to the right of the selected dictionary.
    Once you see a blue checkmark on the dictionary’s left side, it means it’s now active.

    Activate the iPhone dictionary

Note: You can add more dictionaries. Check our explainer on how to add dictionaries on iPhone and iPad.

Your iPhone’s dictionary is now active and ready to use. Next, let’s see how you can use the dictionary to look up the meaning of words.

How to check the meaning of words with iPhone built-in dictionary

The iPhone’s built-in dictionary helps when you need to look up the meaning of words without leaving what you’re typing. Consequently, it saves you the time of browsing what a word means on Google or a third-party dictionary app and prevents distraction. To use the iPhone dictionary, you only need to highlight the word you want to see its meaning.

Once you highlight the word, tap Look Up, and its meaning shows up as defined by the dictionaries you selected earlier. Next, tap a definition to expand it.

Check the meaning of words with iPhone built-in dictionary

Deactivate unused dictionaries on iPhone

To reduce the number of definitions that pops whenever you look up a word, you might want to deactivate some active dictionaries.

To do this, go to iPhone SettingsGeneralDictionary. You’ll see a blue checkmark on active ones. Now, tap the dictionaries you want to deactivate.

iPhone dictionary not working? Try these fixes

The dictionary might fail to bring up the meaning of words sometimes. And instead, it says No Content Found. If so, no worries. This might be due to a couple of faults from your end or the app. These quick fixes should solve the problem:

  1. Ensure that you only look up a word at a time. Checking the meaning of a sentence goes beyond the function of a dictionary.
  2. Check spelling of the word you’re looking up. It might be misspelled after all.
  3. Redownload the dictionary by unticking the blue checkmark and selecting the dictionary again.
  4. Force-restart your iPhone. It might be due to an overloaded ram.
  5. Although iPhone’s built-in dictionary only works on iOS 11 and later, updating the iOS version to a higher one might help.

Now that you know how to use the dictionary on your iPhone, it’s still easy to forget that it exists. But the more you use it, the more you get used to it. With this in hand, you should never get stuck with words again. Have more queries? Share them in the comments below.

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  • Idowu

    Idowu is an avid tech writer and a software surfer who loves covering knowledge gaps in consumer software, including anything related to iPhones. Well, when he's not reading and learning new things, you'll find Idowu losing gallantly on a solid chessboard or virtually on Lichess.

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