Anywhere in the iPhone when you select a word the Define option pops up from the popup menu. Clicking on it brings up the definition for that word. The default dictionary it uses is the New Oxford American Dictionary(NOAD). I wonder if it can be changed to the Oxford English Dictionary(OED).

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Image source: osxdaily.com

  • Do you already have the language and keyboard set to British or uk English? Apr 5, 2013 at 21:09
  • @Tom: Sure did. Doesn't seem to do the trick.
    – Noah
    Apr 6, 2013 at 1:03
  • try typing "colour" in notes and then select and define Apr 7, 2013 at 18:34
  • @TomGewecke Defines it. But uses the NOAD. Did the same thing on my Mac, and the result was different under the OED.
    – Noah
    Apr 7, 2013 at 19:34
  • 1
    It is ODE, not OED. -basically the same content as NOAD, just with British English. No extra info.
    – user61614
    Nov 5, 2013 at 6:18

2 Answers 2


It looks like this is possible in iOS 7. When you click to define a word, in the bottom left there is a "Manage" button. Here, you can tap the X for a dictionary that you want to delete from your device and tap the cloud button to download a dictionary you want. So in your case, tap the X to delete the NOAD from your iPhone, and tap the cloud to download the OED to your iPhone.

  • That's true....
    – Noah
    Dec 29, 2013 at 5:34
  • 2
    In iOS 9, there is no longer an X button to remove a dictionary; instead swipe left on the entry. Nov 25, 2015 at 20:52

This is not possible currently as applications implement a dictionary priority stack. That is, more specifically, unless the application specifies a dictionary, the top most dictionary from the "English"-dictionaries stack is used. As Apple-apps do not provide a selection interface for the dictionary priority, the NOAD is used.

  • How does your assertion square with the fact that on a properly working ipad like mine, you can get the OED instead of the NOAD on Apple apps by switching to the English (UK) keyboard and asking "Define" for a word spelled in the British manner? Same for German, French, Spanish, Japanese, and Chinese, with appropriate words and keyboard switches? Apr 12, 2013 at 14:10
  • That was not an assertion. Changing the keyboard does change the systems' priority stack on dictionaries.
    – 19h
    Apr 12, 2013 at 14:15
  • Then your "answer" makes no sense, because it should be possible for the OP to get his OED by default by changing his keyboard. (Unfortunately it does not work on his device). Apr 12, 2013 at 14:33
  • 2
    Could you please step back with your arrogance and try to understand me as a developer. The dictionary is selected from a priority stack, that stack depends on the users locale and keyboard settings. However, every application implements different selection algorithms. I, for myself, can't use the OED as default dictionary, too. This does also apply to my iPad Mini, iPad (4th gen) and iPhone (5th gen). That is, either you have a magic iOS device or please explain what you do to enable the dictionary. Try to get rid of it and re-enable it. How did you do that? Tell us! :)
    – 19h
    Apr 12, 2013 at 14:46
  • I think @TomGewecke is right. If you can get dictionaries for French and other languages how come you cannot get the OED for BrE? If i am able to get French or Spanish dics, I should also be able to get the OED. Not sure where the problem lies, though.
    – Noah
    Apr 12, 2013 at 14:55

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