top five welsh dictionaries graphic

Whatever language you are learning, it’s vital to have a good dictionary to hand to help you look up essential vocabulary, tricky words and for help with grammar. 

Thankfully, there are lots of excellent Welsh dictionaries written specifically with the second language learner in mind. 

I have used every single one of these dictionaries over the years and so you can be sure that each of these is a personal recommendation. I have about a dozen different Welsh dictionaries on my shelves at the moment (and one that is too big for the shelf and so acts a bit like a doorstop), and I also use online dictionaries and apps when I want to look something up quickly. Each of them has its own strengths and weaknesses, so I hope this guide will help you choose the best one for your situation and learning style.

  • Please note that the links below are Amazon Affiliate links and I earn a small commission at no extra cost to you if you go ahead and purchase. 

First up is Heini Gruffudd’s Welsh Learners’ Dictionary. This is a really popular choice for learners and you are in excellent hands with Heini. He is an author who really knows how to make things clear and understandable for Welsh learners and has decades of experience. Any book by him is going to be a worthwhile addition to your learning resources.

There is help with grammar and a solid, core vocabulary which is a great foundation on which to build your Welsh.

The Oxford Modern Welsh Dictionary has seen lots of printings and my version is rather battered these days. I suggest you treat yourself to this excellent, clearly laid out and substantial dictionary. There is help with grammar as you would expect and some good content at the start of the book which will help you with pronunciation, mutations, regional and stylistic variants and has a very handy glossary of grammatical terms. 

D. Geraint Lewis is another Welsh writer who I feel, after so many years with his books on my desk, is now an intimate friend. He has a really helpful way of explaining grammar in particular and my Welsh writing is better for his books being in the world.

This dictionary is one I see time and again in Welsh lessons and a great little addition for quick reference.

The Collins Spurrel dictionaries have accompanied me through learning not only Welsh but French and Spanish too, and, if nothing else, they are tactile, pocket sized books which have a huge amount of information in considering their size. The paper stock used is sturdy enough to have seen me through about a decade of daily use, but I have to confess that I did have to bin my own copy some years ago after the glue failed and none of the pages were in the right order. It was a tragic parting of ways. But I have replaced it with a different edition and strongly recommend that you keep this, or the mini version, in your pocket or bag for when you need a Welsh dictionary on the go!

Y Geiriadur Mawr really does live up to its title and I can’t recommend this book more highly. I bought my copy of this during my first week at university from the legendary Siop Y Pethe in Aberystwyth. 

This dictionary’s chief virtue is its array of obsolete words. While these may not be of immediate importance to the Welsh learner who wants to build foundations, it is worth considering. It gives a really interesting and frequently beautiful view into how Welsh has changed, how words are connected and into the elements which make it such a poetic language.

This is also the book to go to for more obscure words and terms. 

Let me know what your favourite Welsh dictionary is. Remember that as well as Amazon, you can find all of these books in the wonderful independent bookshops all across Wales. 

Check out this link here to find a list of bookshops to support.

If you’ve found your perfect dictionary here, I’d be glad if you were to buy me a coffee and help create more content for Welsh learners.

Diolch, a hwyl am y tro!

Elin Heron
S'mae pawb! Elin dw i a dw i'n gweithio fel tiwtor Cymraeg ar-lein a gyda Cylch Dysgwyr Cymraeg. Wnes i greu Tyfu Cymraeg i helpu dysgwyr a thiwtoriaid. Croeso!

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