The English German dictionaries translators actually use!
Scroll down this page for the best German:
You need a good specialist English German dictionary as soon as your German translations start dealing with anything but the most general topics.
However, broadly speaking, the more specialist the subject area, the more expensive the English German dictionary. Not a huge surprise, as this reflect a dictionary’s sales volumes.
My list of specialist English German dictionaries includes the classic reference texts - those acclaimed by professional German translators working in these fields - plus some less expensive options, where available.
I've listed the top 2 or 3 dictionaries in each category - and links to more detailed listings for listings for subject areas - like medicine - which are rich in good German dictionaries!
A used-copy is often a good alternative. Remember
that dictionaries are a tax-deductible business expense!
And I'm always happy to add to the list – if you've got some tried and tested favorites, I’d love to hear about them! Just use the form at the bottom of the page.
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At last a soft cover, affordable version of Ernst, the classic must-have German technical dictionary for any German translator serious about technical translation - says everyone in the translator forums.
It was also recommended by my examiners at the Chartered Institute of Linguists. The dictionary comes in 2 volumes, German to English, and English to German: Here we have the first volume. Eighth edition, published 2015.
This is the second edition, published 2004, and claims to be the definitive dictionary for German technical terms. Fabulously expensive – look for a second-hand copy. Last published 2004 – will a newer version be issued soon?
Covers 60 subject areas including Mechanical Engineering, Transportation, Production, Engineering, Electrical Engineering, Chemistry, Physics, Electricity, Construction, Food Technology, Railway Engineering and Automotive Engineering.
The Großwörterbuch Wirtschaftsenglisch by Hamblock and Wessels, 6th edition, 2006, is said by some to be the best German to English business dictionary around, and one recommended on the translator forums, with 180,000 entries in each direction.
Great for business, economics and finance.
Der Grosse Eichborn, Wirtschaft, Recht, Verwaltung, Verkehr, Steuern, Politik: Deutsch-Englisch, 2003.
Another absolute classic, and praised as extremely comprehensive. As usual, look for a used copy in good condition, and hope that - like the Dietl and Lorenz - a new edition is published soon. It comes leather bound, so should stand up to hard treatment.
German Dictionary of Business, Commerce and Finance / Wörterbuch Fur
Wirtschaft, Handel und Finanzen: Deutsch-Englisch/Englisch-Deutsch, 2006. Part of the Routledge specialist bilingual series, this is a serious dictionary, running to 1440 pages. It's a solid price again, but at least you get German to English and English to German, and there are always second-hand copies available.
Recht, Wirtschaft & Politik / Dictionary of Law, Commerce and Politics, Vol. 2: 6th edition, 2020. Another recommendation in the translator forums. A comprehensive volume, aimed at international lawyers, interpreters, translations, academics and employees in German companies and organisations dealing with the English-speaking world.
Rechtsenglisch: Deutsch-englisches und englisch-deutsches Rechtswörterbuch für jedermann, 2011. Considerably less expensive than the Dietl/Lorenz, but with the advantage of translating in both directions.
Wörterbuch der Rechts- und Wirtschaftssprache / Dictionary of Legal and Commercial Terms, Romain/Byrd/Thielecke, 6th edition, 2002. More compact than the Dietl/Lorenz and gets rave reviews from translators for providing relevant context for each entry, so hopefully a new edition will be in the offing soon.
Here are 2 key German medical dictionary resources, and for anyone more serious about medical translation, I've expanded this list here.
Springer Großwörterbuch Medizin / Medical Dictionary, 2nd edition, 2004. This medical dictionary gets the thumbs up from a patent translator. Over 53,000 German terms, 125,000 English terms. Published 2004 with over 1,700 pages, so a serious contender.
The Routledge-Langenscheidt German Dictionary of Medicine, by Dr Jürgen-Fritz Nöhring, is expensive but certainly authoritative. Published in 1997, it comes in 2 volumes: Vol 1 is German to English (no details about number of entries), and Vol 2 English to German with 67,000 entries, with each volume running to almost 1,000 pages. Perhaps for the more serious medical translator.
A recognized, specialist English German dictionary is always your authoritative, final point of reference. But you can also research around the topic using an online dictionary or a specialized glossary of German and English terminology, compiled by translators working in these fields.
If you can recommend a good English German dictionary which is great in its field, then we'd be delighted to add it to the list. Just use the form below.
German Translation Tips & Resources