I'm trying to build a command line tool to look up definitions of words, it's only a dummy app for me to practise my C++ skills.

I know there is a list of words stored at /usr/share/dict - but what I'm really looking for is the path to the New Oxford American Dictionary data, it comes bundled with the system, but I couldn't find it yet.


2 Answers 2


The dictionaries are stored in...


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  • 1
    Is this still accurate as of 10.14? /Library/Dictionaries and ~/Library/Dictionaries are empty. Sep 25, 2018 at 3:35

In 10.14 (and possibly earlier), the dictionaries have moved to /System/Library/Assets/com_apple_MobileAsset_DictionaryServices_dictionaryOSX/

There is one .asset directory for each downloaded dictionary; for example, my American English dictionary is located at: /System/Library/Assets/com_apple_MobileAsset_DictionaryServices_dictionaryOSX/69b7ab1cf0f75ad16bf6662b0a77fbfd36b7941f.asset/AssetData/New\ Oxford\ American\ Dictionary.dictionary.

UPDATE In macOS 11.5, it seems to be a slightly different path: /System/Library/AssetsV2/com_apple_MobileAsset_DictionaryServices_dictionaryOSX

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