How to Easily Setup a Dictionary in Ubuntu Linux?

You can find a lot of dictionaries in Ubuntu but some are a little bit difficult to setup. So if you’re looking for a easy to use and easy to setup dictionary then ‘GoldenDict’ is well worth trying.

I’ve been using it for sometime now and extremely happy with its features and usability. It’s a fully open-source project and a cross-platform tool that runs in GNU/Linux, MS Windows and Mac OSX.

Main features …

*. Simple interface with a search box to your left, content in the middle and available dictionaries to the right side, just perfect ;-).


*. Supports both offline and online dictionaries.

*. Includes Wikipedia by default and you can easily add web-based dictionaries such as: “Urban Dictionary”, Multitran (English to Russian online), Lingvo as well.


*. Supports translations (German, Russian, Greek and Japanese).

*. Has a Scan popup mode (some might not like it).

When it is enabled, whenever you select a word “GoldenDict” will open a small window near your mouse pointer showing details about it. It can be a distraction but you can always disable it.

The “popup window” … can be useful to some …

*. Add Morphology analyzers such as Hunspell and Myspell.

*. Groups dictionaries for easy management.

*. Zoom in/out text.

*. On-line text to speech (pronunciation) output!.


*. Runs in the System tray.

*. Supports few languages (UI itself).

*. Use hot-keys to hide or translate text when selected.

*. Supports “Phonon” output (Qt/KDE multimedia framework) or you can manually define any application.

*. Use Proxy for anonymous online dictionary access.

*. Includes audio pronunciations.

*. Send files to print or save in HTML formats.


How to set it up in Ubuntu?

Enter the below commands to install GoldenDict in Ubuntu 12.04 Precise Pangolin, 11.10 Oneiric Ocelot, 11.04 Natty Narwhal, 10.10 and 10.04.

sudo apt-get install goldendict

Setting up an Off-line dictionary …

By default it does not come with an off-line dictionary. If you want the default ‘GNU powered’ English dictionary (about 13MB of size … so it contains a lot) called “GCIDE” then use the below procedure to install it.

This is a completely free dictionary program and fully secure from copyright issues. So it’ll always be there for us :).

You can install GCIDE in Ubuntu by using the below command.

sudo apt-get install dict-gcide

When you launch GoldenDict it should scan and find it automatically. If however it doesn’t do that, then to fix that, from its window press “F3” key on your keyboard.

This should open its “settings” window. And from that under “Files” tab click on the “add” button and simply enter the below two folder paths (update: If you cannot find ‘/usr/share/stardict/dic’ then skip it and only add ‘/usr/share/dictd’).




Then click on the “Rescan” button and it should’ve recognized it by now :).

How to enable “Voice” outputs?

GoldenDict uses “mplayer” as the playback engine. But you can change that to any player by using “Audio” tab under “Settings” window. But I strongly suggest that you use Mplayer instead of say “Totem” or “Banshee” as they’re extremely slowish to load when compared to “mplayer”.

You can change “external program” name to add any multimedia player for the audio output …

So again open your Terminal and enter the below command to install Mplayer in Ubuntu.

sudo apt-get install mplayer

That should solve that one too :).

‘GoldenDict’ also supports a lot of other dictionaries as well. For that please this official GoldenDict Dictionaries page. It’s really well documented and should be easy from there. Well that’s pretty much it.

An RHCE, 'Linux' user with 14+ years of experience. Extreme lover of Linux and FOSS. He is passionate to test every Linux distribution & compare with the previous release to write in-depth articles to help the FOSS community.

23 thoughts on “How to Easily Setup a Dictionary in Ubuntu Linux?”

    • Yes, Abhisek, you are right. But I found ARTHA is a very simple dictionary. I am looking for something equivalent of WORDWEB (Windows based) in Ubuntu 12.04. Do you think this one would be close to that one? Please drop a line to akbagchi at gmail dot com Hug and love.

      • Hi Ashoke,

        Goldendict is way more advanced than Wordweb for windows (the free version). So, yes I think goldendict is a good choice.

  1. I have just finished install dict-gcide but I cannot find /usr/share/stardict/dic in my directory listing.

    I hope the second option is enough!

    I having Linux Mint 12 Lisa.

  2. Wow! its really nice. But I am stuck with one point. I can't hear any audio pronunciation 🙁

    I added selected mplayer as the playback program and I am using Kubuntu 12.04.

    Any idea?

    • Hello 'Jamal,

      Well, since you're using Kubuntu (KDE), try enabling the other option above 'mplayer' called 'Play via Phonon'. This might fix your issue as 'Phonon' is a multimedia engine (framework) that's specially designed for KDE.

  3. [sorry with the above unclear idea]

    I am using ubuntu 11.10. I have successfully installed GoldenDict, gcide and mplayer

    but I Could not get

    ‘stardict/dic’ to add

    But, 1) I get the latter one that is 'dictd'

    2) and no voice support

    could you suggest me solution?

    Thank you!

  4. Hi 'Hailay',

    <del datetime="2012-09-13T06:52:35+00:00">Concerning the audio, as I've said in the post, make sure the option 'Auto-pronounce words in main window' is enabled and under playback choose 'Use external program' and enter 'mplayer' and that usually should do the trick. </del>

    A<del datetime="2012-09-13T06:52:35+00:00">bout the 'startdict/dic' … I'm not sure what the issue could be :/. Does 'goldendict' detect 'GCIDE' dictionary nonetheless? </del>

    Update: It's your lucky day 'Hailay', I just had to install Ubuntu 11.10 for some reason today :D.

    And did a quick installation of Goldendict and don't worry, you don't need to enter the 'startdict/dic' (which will only be there if you're installed another dictionary called 'stardict. I don't know why I put it in the article, perhaps I've had installed it before Goldendict …).

    Just enter the '/usr/share/dictd' and then press the 'rescan' button and now you should have a decent offline dictionary support in Goldendict.

    About the audio: Press 'F3'after opening Goldendict and then under the 'Sources' tab, choose 'Frovo' tab and make sure to enable it by clicking on the 'Enable Pronunciation from Frovo' option.

    Then follow the next step on that page to get your 'key' from 'Frovo' (you'll have to register in their site) and then once you've got it, paste it in the blank field in Goldendict. That should do it.

    It used to work without a key (or with the one that came with Goldendict) but it doesn't seem to work no more.

    I've also updated the article, hope this was helpful :).

    • Hi ‘jack’,

      I was actually referring to the language support of the user interface. I don’t know if there are dictionaries that support other languages.

      You can try using the translate feature (needs an internet connection) Or, have a look at the below link, it might contain dictionaries that supports multiple languages.

  5. Hi Gayan, thanks for the tips..
    But, as I tried to install GCIDE from ubuntu-software-centre, its said that the definition was obsolete:

    “The GCIDE contains the full text of the 1913 Webster’s Unabridged Dictionary, supplemented by many definitions from WordNet, the Century Dictionary, 1906, and many additional definitions contributed by volunteers.
    The definitions in the core of this dictionary are at least 85 years old, so they can not be expected to be politically correct by contemporary standards, and no attempt has been, or will be, made to make them so.”

    What should I do to make the definition up to date? or.. What application should I install to make GoldenDict an updated-offline-dictionary?

    • Hi ‘Albus’,

      Hmm, interesting point from the Ubuntu Software Center.

      Anyway, Goldendict’s web site lists some of the offline dictionary databases that you can use (some are not free). For that, please have a look at the below link.

      There is also another dictionary called ‘Aard’. Other than the standalone dictionary, it also gives you few powerful offline ones as well. For that, follow the below link.

      Now I have not tried any of them (including the ones listed on the Goldendict link) , but I think you should be able to add them by manually adding their path, as shown in the article.

  6. Hi Gayan

    Thank you for the article! But I can’t hear audio pronunciation. I am using ubuntu 16.04 and I selected mplayer as playback program.


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