If you select some text in whatever application, there's a "define" option that will open a builtin dictionary screen:

Dictionary Screenshot

Can this dictionary be accessed/browsed? As in, an actual application?

iOS 6.0

  • Somebody could make a jailbreak app for it for sure, and as I'm not sure how it's implemented, somebody might be able to make a normal app that does it (albeit, it wouldn't get accepted into the App Store). Commented Oct 7, 2013 at 16:44

2 Answers 2


You can access definitions from the phone’s search (Spotlight):

Using spotlight

Occasionally you’ll have to scroll lower and expand the list of definitions to see more dictionaries:

enter image description here

A long time ago used to be a nice little app (that luckily I still have) that did exactly that: let you search for definitions directly. It was called Dictionary+ (link no longer available), Apple removed it reportedly for violating the UIReferenceLibraryViewController's terms of use, which states that it should not be used to display wordlists, create a standalone dictionary app, or republish the content in any form.

There's a replacement open source app that you can build, sign and install it manually, I haven't tried it, though: https://github.com/josh-/DictionaryPlusPlus


In iOS 12 Apple provided the free Shortcuts App. You may have to download it from the App Store if you've deleted it. Shortcuts can do what you need and a lot more.

The following simple shortcut is a wrapper to the in-built dictionary and accepts a typed-in word from a prompt. But you may define the workflow to accept text from the clipboard or from a share sheet. You can also add the word to a note in Notes, email it, and so on.

You can finally add the shortcut to the home screen as an icon that can be clicked like any other app.

It's fast.

This is what Shortcuts looks like:

enter image description here

This is a simple one-step shortcut definition, called "Dictionary":

enter image description here

When run from here or from an icon it looks like so:

enter image description here

Press "Done" and the definition appears, respecting your dictionary choices:

enter image description here

And of course don't forget to add the icon to your home screen. I named this one "Look Up" but of course you could name it anything and even give it a custom icon:

enter image description here

  • 2
    This solution works perfectly and should be the accepted answer.
    – David
    Commented Sep 2, 2022 at 7:13

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .