Most people are misinformed on the subject of how dictionaries work on Kindle ebook readers, so I wanted to put together this guide explaining how to change, add, and create custom dictionaries for Kindle devices.
Last week someone left a comment complaining about how Kindles sucked compared to Kobos because Kindles don’t allow you to use your own dictionaries. I knew that wasn’t correct because it’s easy to sideload dictionaries on Kindles as long they are in the proper format.
Plus the Kindle comes with a couple of English dictionaries pre-installed, along with a bunch of free foreign-language dictionaries that you can download from the cloud.
There are also a number of free Kindle dictionaries in MOBI format that you can download online.
If you can’t find the dictionary you’re looking for online or in the Kindle Store, you can even create your own custom Kindle dictionaries from dictionary databases if you want to.
How to Change Default Kindle Dictionary
The Kindle Paperwhite, Kindle Voyage, and $79 Kindle all have the same software features, so changing the dictionary is the same process for all of them.
Go to Settings > Device Options > Language and Dictionaries > Dictionaries to select from your downloaded dictionaries (you can add more to show up here; see sections below).
You can also quickly switch between dictionaries while reading by selecting a word, then tapping the name of the dictionary in the lower right corner of the window.
Included Foreign Language Dictionaries
A lot of people don’t realize that their Kindle comes with a bunch of foreign language dictionaries, at least one for each language it supports.
Since most people only read one language, the dictionaries aren’t downloaded by default. They are located in the “Cloud” section of your Kindle on the homescreen in a folder called “Dictionaries”.
Additionally, you can find all the dictionaries on the Manage Your Content and Devices page at Amazon. Select to show Dictionaries and User Guides.
The current lineup of Kindles come with the following free foreign language dictionaries:
There are more that you can get in the Kindle store. Plus there are options to download free online, like these WordNet 3 Easy & Infused Kindle dictionaries.
How to Sideload a Kindle Dictionary
If you downloaded a Kindle dictionary online in MOBI format, or create your own, there are different ways to sideload it on your Kindle:
Option 1 – The Old School Method
1. Plug your Kindle into your computer via USB.
2. Open the Kindle’s documents folder.
3. Place your new dictionaries in the dictionaries folder.
4. Safely eject your Kindle from your computer.
If properly formatted, the dictionary will show up on the dictionary list even if it’s just put in the documents folder instead of the dictionaries folder.
Option 2 – The Super Easy Method
Use one of the Send to Kindle apps or email to send the dictionary to your Kindle wirelessly.
How to Create Custom Kindle Dictionaries
There are ways to create custom Kindle dictionaries for those who aren’t afraid of a little technical work. You can create dictionaries for any language.
Here’s a step-by-step guide on how to create your own Kindle dictionaries for free. The process works with any language.
Some have taken creating custom Kindle dictionaries to a whole new level. Fictionaries take advantage of the Kindle’s built-in dictionary feature to include additional information about details for specific books. They include terms and content specific to the book you are reading. It’s kind of like a more advanced version of the Kindle’s X-Ray feature.
There are Fictionaries for popular fantasy and science fiction epics like George Martin’s A Song of Ice and Fire series and Robert Jordan’s Wheel of Time. There are Fictionaries for classics written by Mark Twain and Jane Austen as well.
Checkout the Fictionary website for more information and free downloads.