When you deal with rare or old-fashioned words in genealogical documents, finding an English translation can be difficult. In such cases, it’s good to have as many German-English dictionary resources to consult. If your word is not in one of these dictionaries, it may be in another – and you should check all of them before you despair!
Below, find my favorite German dictionary resources, in the order that I consult them. But you pick your favorite for yourself!
Dict.leo.org is a staple for German translations. This website is easy-to-use, straightforward, and even has a forum for those rarer words that might not have a direct translation.
If the forum results are in German, simply copy and paste the discussion into Deepl.com, and find out what is being said about your mystery word!
If Leo doesn’t have the definition of my word, I then go to dict.cc. This online dictionary works just as well as Leo – I just like the set up of Leo better. That being said, a lot of times I have found definitions in dict.cc where Leo has had nothing!
Wordreference.com is also a wonderful resource. It also has a section called “Zusammengesetze Wörter” (words put together), where you can see the translation of common phrases using your mystery word.
Langenscheidt is a popular German dictionary brand with an online presence as well. It is a German-based website, but nice to have another tool in your arsenal for those hard to find words. Hint: “übersetzen” = “translate”. This website also has nice examples of phrases that include your word, which I do really like.
If you are not having luck with any of the above dictionaries, then it might be time to accept the fact that modern dictionaries simply do not include your mystery word. In that case, woerterbuchnetz.de is the place to go. This collection of old-fashioned German to German dictionaries include many, many words that you will not find in modern ones, so definitely worth checking out. The definitions are German to German, however, so this is where copy and pasting that definition into Deepl.com may come in handy!
I don’t use this one much myself, but some of you might like it! It is a very well-respected dictionary published in 1869 – which means that a lot of terms that are on your genealogical documents – yet not in dictionaries today – will be included! The online version can be found here. Definitely worth taking a look at if you can’t find your word in other places!
I hope you can use these dictionaries to help you in your research! And don’t forget, you also have access to My Word is Not in A Dictionary: Now What? (Premium) for more tips – including certain Google phrases – on what to do if your word is not in one of the above websites.
Any more good dictionaries you would add? Let us know in the comments so your fellow Premium members can benefit as well!