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Frequently Asked Questions (F.A.Q.) on Kindle Dictionaries

1.     How do dictionaries work on Kindle?

2.     What Kindle models and Kindle apps are the dictionaries compatible with?

3.     How do I set my default dictionary?

4.     When I press Enter to select the dictionary as default, nothing happens.

5.     Why does the dictionary only translate one way?

6.     I have set the dictionary as default, but when I try to look up words, nothing happens.

7.     Why can't I look up any word in my eBook?

8.     When I look up a word, why does the definition that appears in the pop-up window run into the next dictionary definition?

9.     In the definition/translation pop-up box, sometimes the characters are missing or display incorrectly.

How do dictionaries work on Kindle?

There are two ways of using a dictionary on Kindle devices. (Please see below for more details on compatibility and dictionary settings for your particular model of Kindle.) 

First, you can set it as your default dictionary (also called primary dictionary in early models). Once you have done this, you can select a word for lookup and view its definition in a pop-up window without leaving the book you’re reading.

Second, you can type words in the search dictionary box. You need to access the dictionary directly from your Kindle’s Home screen in order to use this feature. On a Kindle, the box will appear at the bottom of the screen; on a Kindle Voyage or Kindle Paperwhite, click on the magnifying glass icon to bring up the search interface. You can input a word and either go directly to its entry or browse through the full list of words included in the dictionary.

What Kindle models and Kindle apps are the dictionaries compatible with?

Kindle Devices:

All of our dictionaries are compatible with 2nd generation and newer Kindles except Kindle Fire. If you are unsure which generation Kindle you own, please see our Compatibility Table.

Currently, the Kindle Fire does not support default dictionary selection, as there is no Setting to let you change the default from the built-in dictionary. We recommend that you contact Amazon Customer Service to request that this functionality be supported in Kindle Fire in the future.

Kindle Apps:

Dictionary search via keyboard input is supported on the Kindle for iPad, Kindle for iPhone, Kindle for Mac, and Kindle for PC only. To search in one of these apps, open the dictionary from your Library, and then click on the magnifying glass icon to bring up the search interface.  In contrast to Kindle devices, this search will only display words matching the term you enter, rather than show the full list of dictionary words as you type.

Default dictionary selection is currently supported for Kindle for iPad and Kindle for iPhone / iPod Touch (version 4.0 and higher), but not in other Kindle Apps.

NOTE: Kindle for Android and Kindle for Blackberry do not support dictionary search, but have a simple search that lets you look for words in the entire text of the dictionary. As this search generally takes a long time and produces too many non-useful results, we only recommend our dictionaries for use on Kindle for iPad, Kindle for iPhone, Kindle for PC, and Kindle for Mac apps at the present time.

Kindle Compatibility Table

Kindle Variant

Compatibility

Kindle Voyage

Kindle Voyage

Compatible. Default Dictionary feature is supported.

Kindle Paperwhite

Kindle Paperwhite

Compatible. Default Dictionary feature is supported.

Kindle

Kindle

Compatible. Default Dictionary feature is supported.

Kindle Fire, Kindle Fire HD

Kindle Fire

No Default Dictionary feature.  Dictionary can be searched via keyboard input.

Kindle Touch

Kindle Touch

Compatible. Default Dictionary feature is supported.

Kindle Keyboard

Kindle Keyboard

Compatible. Default Dictionary feature is supported.

Kindle DX

Kindle DX

Compatible. Default Dictionary feature is supported.

Kindle (2nd Generation)

Kindle 2nd generation

Compatible. Default Dictionary feature is supported.

Kindle (1st Generation)

Kindle 1st generation

Not Compatible

Kindle Reading Applications

Kindle for iPad
Kindle for iPhone and iPod Touch

Compatible. Default Dictionary feature is supported in version 4.0 and higher.

Kindle for PC
Kindle for Mac
Kindle for Windows Phone

No Default Dictionary feature.  Dictionary can be searched via keyboard input.

Kindle for Android
Kindle for Blackberry

No Default Dictionary feature.  Dictionary can only be searched via simple word.

 

How do I set my default dictionary?

In Kindle for iPad and Kindle for iPhone/iPod Touch, perform the following steps:

Tap on a word to look it up. When the definition pop-up window appears, you will see a box with the name of the current default dictionary. Tap on the box to bring up the list of available dictionaries, then select the dictionary you want to use as default from the list.

In 4th generation and later Kindles, Kindle Paperwhite, and Kindle Voyage, perform the following steps:

Press the HOME key. At the Home screen, select Menu, then Settings. At the Settings screen, the next step will depend on your device:

  • On the Kindle, scroll down until you see "Dictionaries", then select it
  • On the Kindle Voyage or Kindle Paperwhite, select "Device Options", "Language and Dictionaries", then "Dictionaries"

In the Dictionaries list, you can select a default dictionary for each language for which you have a dictionary (or dictionaries). For example, if you have dictionaries for English, Spanish and German, you will see corresponding categories with the current default dictionary listed for each available language. If you only have one dictionary for a particular language, there is nothing to do. The dictionary displayed is pre-selected as the default for the corresponding language.

If you have more than one dictionary available for a particular language, either a right arrow or the text “change default” will be displayed in the right margin. To change the current selection on Kindle Voyage, Kindle Paperwhite, or Kindle Touch, tap on it; to change it on a non-touch screen Kindle, select it with the navigation key, then press OK. A list of available dictionaries for the corresponding language will be displayed. Select the dictionary you want to use as the default from the list, then select OK. Now you've set your default dictionary for the corresponding language.

In 2nd & 3rd generation Kindles, perform the following steps:

Press the HOME key. At the Home screen, select Menu, then Settings. At the Settings screen, press Menu again then select Change Primary Dictionary from the respective Menu list. In the Dictionaries list, you can select a default dictionary for lookup. Highlight the dictionary you want to use, and then press OK. 

Note: The dictionary you select will only look up words for eBooks tagged in the same language. For example, if you highlight a word in an eBook tagged as German, you will only be able to use a dictionary that is tagged as German. See the description of your specific eBook(s) to verify this information.

When I press Enter to select the dictionary as default, nothing happens.

In 4th generation and later Kindles, Kindle Voyage, Kindle Paperwhite, and Kindle Touch, if you only have one dictionary for a particular language, there is nothing for you to do. The dictionary displayed is pre-selected as the default for the corresponding language.

Why does the dictionary only translate one way?

It is the way the Kindle eBook reader is designed. Amazon only allows publishers to define a single direction for word lookup in an eBook, which means a single-volume print bilingual dictionary must be offered as two separate eBooks in the Kindle Store. For example, if a print bilingual dictionary contains both German-English and English-German sections, we make it available as two eBooks for Kindle: a German-English dictionary for lookup of German words and an English-German dictionary for lookup of English words.

I have set the dictionary as default, but when I try to look up words, nothing happens.

There may be a few reasons for this behavior.

a. First, check that you are trying to look up words in the supported language. The dictionary you select will only look up words with eBooks tagged in the same language. For example, if you highlight a word in an eBook tagged as Spanish, you will only be able to use a dictionary that is tagged as Spanish, such as a Spanish-English dictionary.  Conversely, if have an English-Spanish dictionary, you can only use it to look up words in an English eBook. See the description of your specific eBook(s) to verify this information.

b. If you still have a problem, it may be that the language of your eBook (German, Spanish, etc.) is incorrectly defined as English.  The publisher sets this language attribute. If this is the case, your Kindle will treat your eBook as being written in English and attempt to look up words (German, Spanish, etc.) in an English dictionary regardless of the primary dictionary selected (for the corresponding language). NOTE: Dictionary look-up should usually work correctly with eBooks purchased from Amazon, as long as "German Edition", “Spanish Edition”, etc. is present in the eBook title/description. However, we are aware that some Amazon eBooks and eBook samples do not have their language encoded correctly. Please contact Amazon Customer Service if you are unsure about the language of your eBook(s).

If you are unable to look up words in an eBook with one of our dictionaries, you can try looking up words in an eBook we have verified as correctly encoded. If you are able to look up words successfully in the appropriate eBook below, it means the dictionary is working correctly on your Kindle, and the language of your eBook is probably incorrectly encoded.

For German dictionaries: Here is a free edition of a correctly encoded German eBook if you'd like to rule out the dictionary as the source of the problem.

For Spanish dictionaries: Here is a free edition of a correctly encoded Spanish eBook if you'd like to rule out the dictionary as the source of the problem.

c. In some Kindle models where the default dictionary feature is supported, this feature may not work as intended with earlier versions of the Kindle software.  We recommend that you update to the current version of the Kindle software for your model.  Please go to the Kindle Software Updates page and follow the instructions to update to the latest version. 

d. If you are still having a problem, please email us at techsupport@intangiblepress.com. When you send the email, please include the following information: Kindle Model (Paperwhite, DX, etc.); Kindle Software Version (available either at bottom of Menu > Settings screen or Settings > Menu > Device Info); Dictionary Title and Date of Purchase; the Title of the eBook (from which you were unable to look up words). We'll do our best to help diagnose the cause of the problem.

Why can't I look up any word in my eBook?

There may be a few reasons for this behavior.

a. Words that are not in the dictionary will not be found. Just like when you buy a print dictionary, the words contained in the dictionary correspond to the size of the volume. For example, it is easy to see the difference when comparing the print versions of a standard and an Unabridged dictionary; the Unabridged is significantly larger. The Collins dictionaries we offer are among the largest in the Collins line. Additionally, certain word types like proper names, technical jargon, or words that are short-lived (like invented words or slang) probably won't be there.

b. Certain Kindles have a built-in list of words considered too common to look up. There is also a specific list for each language. For example, in Spanish, words like "me", "y", "había" and "a" are on the list. In English, words like "the", "that", "are", "has", "a", and "an" are on the list. When you try to select a word on this list, you will be unable to  look it up.

Of course, if the word is in your dictionary, it is always possible to go into the dictionary and look up the word directly.   This may be inconvenient, but it is the best solution we can offer for this problem until the behavior is standardized across the Kindle product line. The Kindle behavior of blocking lookup of common words while reading may make sense for a native speaker, but not necessarily for a language learner.  We recommend that you contact Amazon Customer Service to request that this functionality be supported consistently across the Kindle product line.

NOTE: If you find a problem with a particular word that you do not think would be too common to search for or is actually in the dictionary you purchased, please let us know. There may be another issue making this happen. Please email us at techsupport@intangiblepress.com. When you send the email, please include the following information: Kindle Model (Paperwhite, DX, etc.); Kindle Software Version (available at bottom of Menu > Settings screen or Settings > Menu > Device Info); Dictionary Title and Date of Purchase; the Title of the eBook (from which you were unable to look up words). We'll do our best to help diagnose the cause of the problem.

When I look up a word, why does the definition that appears in the pop-up window run into the next dictionary definition?

For the 2nd and 3rd generation devices, it is the way the Kindle eBook reader is designed. Individual publishers are unable to change this.

NOTE: This behavior has been improved in the 4th generation and later Kindle devices (with the exception of the Kindle Fire). You only see the definition/translation for the word you selected in the pop-up window.


In the definition/translation pop-up box, sometimes the characters are missing or display incorrectly.

On 2nd generation Kindles, many of the phonetic characters used in the dictionary are not available in the size used in the device pop-up window.  Therefore, some of these characters could be missing or display incorrectly in this window.    

 

 

 

 

 




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