General Question

Ltryptophan's avatar

What is the easiest way to find the definition of a French word in English?

Asked by Ltryptophan (10243points) February 26th, 2011

I imagine that there may be some discrepancies on the precise meaning of certain words in French. Subtleties may exist that would only be found in an actual French dictionary.

Of course I could take a French/English dictionary, and find the correct word in French, and look that word up in a separate French dictionary, and attempt to find an accurate translation of that definition, but is (a) there a way that is better, or (b) no need since a French/English dictionary does exactly what I am trying to accomplish…(provides a precise “French” definition of a word).

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9 Answers

Nullo's avatar

A French/English dictionary ought to be precise enough (granted, there will be the occasional case where they translate the idea, but that’s almost solely in the case of idioms.) Heck, there’s enough overlap from French to English that you might not even need the dictionary.

Seelix's avatar

I use wordreference.com, which has dictionaries for French, Italian and Spanish (as well as other languages) that I’ve used before. There are sample sentences and variants, as well as a forum where you can ask specific questions about language and have them answered by native speakers. It’s a pretty awesome (and free) site.

cazzie's avatar

Do a reverse look up to get a better idea.

Dr_Lawrence's avatar

The meaning of a word often depends on its context. That is why a knowledge of the language must go beyond translation dictionaries, especially for adjectives and adverbs and idioms.

lemming's avatar

Find a tandum language exchange partner and ask them.

Seelix's avatar

That’s the great thing about WordReference – it’s kind of like a collaborative project in that users can contribute in the form of sample sentences and make suggestions to improve the dictionaries. Also, like I said, the forum is great for contextual issues and idioms because native speakers can answer your questions.

froovyjosie's avatar

Dictionaries can of course give you a precise translation of words from French>English but it’s not always the case with idioms, and some words don’t actually have an equivalent, although this is rare since French and English are fairly similar. In my experience having a language exchange partner is one of the best ways to really understand certain ideas that you may have come across, because they have an understanding of the contexts in which certain words would be used :)

Plone3000's avatar

Google, google translate.

kawiz's avatar

I use Google Translate, which as audio support and fast translations.

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