dictionary.el is a package by TorstenHilbrich for querying RFC 2229 dictionary servers. Get it from,

Features (from the web page):

Other Features:

A more intuitive interactive entry

This behaves a little more like the emacs help functions that you might be accustomed to:

 (defun my-dictionary-search ()
   (let ((word (current-word))
         (enable-recursive-minibuffers t)
     (setq val (read-from-minibuffer
                (concat "Word"
                        (when word
                          (concat " (" word ")"))
                        ": ")))
      (cons (cond
              ((and (equal val "") word)
              ((> (length val) 0)
               (error "No word to lookup")))



The Texinfo source files and Info generated output, both for English and Spanish, are in http://gnu.manticore.es I added an Index (concepts, functions, variables, keys and programs) to the documentation.



[new] AFAIK, there is a dictionary.el is present with XEmacs distribution.M-x dictionary RET --GirishB

[new] I have briefly tried dictionary-el and lookup-el, the former worked out of the box here.☺ – DeepakGoel [new] Ding comes with a quite usuable German ←> English dictionary. apt-get install it or get it from

You can access the dictionary from emacs (change the path if needed) with

    (defun my-ding (&optional query)
      (interactive (list (read-string "Query: " (current-word))))
      (let ((coding-system-for-read 'latin-1)
          (coding-system-for-write 'latin-1))
        (grep (concat "egrep -nHih " query " /usr/share/trans/de-en"))))

[new] dictionary.el works beautifully with utf-8 but, I can’t seem to get it to work for my mandarin dictionary (encoded in big5). Seems that dictd is configured properly as I can search chinese characters using the dict client (even in eshell). I have set

    (setq dictionary-coding-systems-for-dictionaries
           '( ("test" . chinese-big5))

where “test” is the name of my dictionary. I can sort of see what the problem is, in that, if I execute (dictionary-encode-charset “han-zi “test”), where. “han-zi” is actually a chinese character that seached just fine using dict in eshell, the result is gobbledy gook. Any ideas as to how to debug this would be greatly appreciated. I’ve got dictionary-1.8.7, on GNU Emacs 21.4.1 (stock Debian install). – BrianTodd

[new] Emacs 24 drops support for make-local-hook. The Debian package linked above includes a patch to get round this. Those unfamiliar with patching can also grab the updated dictionary.el from git. – antono

See also: DictWeb.

CategoryEducation CategoryInterface