Using a French Dictionary (Dictionnaire Francais)
Whether you’re just trying to learn a new language, or actually trying to communicate with a business prospect in France, a French dictionary (dictionnaire francais) can be quite handy. A productive collection of French phrases and French words can really make life easy in terms of interacting with French natives.
Albeit, using a French dictionary that suits your individual needs can be quite tricky. Whilst a student might use a quick online resource, a scholarly attempt requires a more traditional French dictionary. Let’s explore the options.
The following are traditional French dictionaries that have been around for quite a while, and part of mainstream French scholarly expeditions.
Dictionnaire de l’Académie Française
The official dictionary of the French language, the Académie Française is France’s official authority on the usages, vocabulary, and grammar of the French language. A special Commission (Commission du Dictionnaire) composed of several of the members of the Académie undertakes the compilation of the dictionary. Since 1687, it has published thirteen editions of the dictionary, of which three were preliminary, eight were complete, and two were supplements for specialized words. The finalized ninth edition is expected to contain more than 15,000 new words.
Grand Dictionnaire Universel du XIXe Siècle
The work of famous French grammarian, lexicographer, and encyclopaedist Pierre Larousse, the Larousse du dix-Neuvième, is an encyclopedic dictionary, in 17 volumes of 1500 pages each, extended from 1866 to 1877. Volumes 1-15 covering A-Z were issued from 1866-70, while volumes 16-17 and two supplements were issued from 1877-1890. Larousse also published further supplements in the form of a magazine, called Revue Encyclopédique (1891-1900), and then Revue Universelle (1900-1905).
Le Petit Robert
Published by renown French lexicographer and publisher Paul Robert, the Le Petit Robert is a popular single-volume French dictionary first published in 1967. It is actually an abridgement of his eight-volume French linguistics landmark, Dictionnaire Alphabétique et Analogique de La Langue Française. As of 2008, it is in its fourth edition and is available in both print and electronic forms.
Dictionnaire de la Langue Française (Littré)
Researched and written by Emile Littre, the "Littré" is a four-volume dictionary of the French language published in four sets. Originally issued in 30 sets, the first publication took place in 1863, and has since then been part of popular French linguistics culture.
Collins-Robert French Dictionary
Marketed as Le Robert et Collins Dictionnaire Français-Anglais in France, the literary endeavor is a bilingual dictionary of English and French derived from the Collins Word Web, an analytical linguistics database. As well as being a bilingual dictionary, it contains usage guides for English and French (known as Grammaire Active and Language in Use respectively), English and French verb tables, and maps of English and French speaking areas.
Harrap’s Shorter French Dictionary
One of the best known English/French bilingual dictionaries in the United Kingdom and France, the Chambers Harrap Publishers dictionary is one of the most widely used literary instruments in Europe. The first edition of the Shorter was published in two volumes, the French-English book in 1940 and the English-French four years later. Revised editions were published in 1967, 1982, 1991, 1996, 2000, 2004, and 2007.
Oxford-Hachette French–English/English–French Dictionary
One of the most comprehensive and recent bilingual French–English and English–French dictionaries, it was the first such dictionary to be written using a computerized corpus and it contains 555,000 translations as well as 360,000 words and expressions. The work was first published in 1994, with its second, third and fourth editions appearing in 1997, 2001 and 2007 respectively. Though the dictionary is entirely bilingual, it is marketed in French as Le grand dictionnaire Hachette-Oxford and in English as Oxford-Hachette French Dictionary.
Collins Free French Online Dictionary
One of the free, public-service endeavors from global publication giant Collins Online French Dictionary, the bilingual French-English and French-English is an excellent online tool for students and businessmen to use on-the-go. With over 40,000 French words and references, the free online dictionary online offers excellent coverage of today’s language and usage, and is easier to apply in local context, whatever the situation might be.
Another excellent drive-through user’s delight, the Yahoo Babelfish dictionary from famous IT giant Yahoo! not only translates French words into English, but also entire blocks of words. Although it is pretty non-conventional, but an excellent tool for rapid reference and communication.