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Reference Resources: Dictionaries and Thesauri

A collection of reference tools to help you in the research and writing process.


Dictionaries contain brief descriptions of a word or concept, and provide standards for its spelling and usage. They can be comprehensive, or technical, for example, limited to a subject or language.

Thesauri provide synonyms and antonyms for words and phrases, which often can help you to refine word choice when writing, or target better terms for information-seeking during research.

Dictionaries and thesauri often contain additional information, such as word histories and examples of proper grammar. The online versions often have add-ons for your web browser for quick lookups, bookmarking and more.

This page provides only a partial listing of the dictionaries available through UC San Diego. To find specialized ones for a country, topic or discipline, use the following technique:

  • Go to UC Library Search, and set the drop-down to do a ‘General Subjects’ search. Enter your country, topic or discipline, followed by a space, and the word ‘dictionaries,’ then do your search.

Example:  archaeology dictionaries