I’ve been trying to learn German on my own, without taking formal classes. I should write a post about this sometime.

For now, in this post I will briefly list the resources I use to translate German to English and/or to look up the definition of German words in German.

Google Translate

Everyone knows Google Translate, right? Direct link for DE->EN translations: https://translate.google.com/?sl=de&tl=en/

Google Translate is my to go swiss-army knife one-size-fits-all application whenever I need to translate something without thinking too much. It is decent for words and for phrases, sentences and expressions, giving you: (i) translation, (ii) synonyms / alternate translations, (iii) dictionary definition and (iv) pronounciation.

A quicker shortcut to use on the go is Google itself: A query like translate strasse from german works as you would expect, and it even displays an Open in Google Translate button for further tweaking.


Dict.cc is great to look up detailed definitions of German words and idioms. It’s a superb dictionary (Wörterbuch). Example query: strasse. It has apps for Android and iOS, both of which support offline lookups.


DeepL Translate is the new kid in town (released on 2017), “The world’s most accurate translator” as they describe themselves. It’s free, but with some limitations. Apparently they use some heavy machine learning machinery different than Google’s that may yield better (“more natural”) results in some situations. I like to keep it around as an alternative to Google Translate when its translations aren’t satisfactory, but I don’t use it much.

Google Dictionary

When using Google Chrome the Google Dictionary extension is handy to quickly look up word definitions without leaving the current page. A double click in a word triggers a pop-up balloon with a concise definition.

As a bonus it doubles down as an English dictionary.

Apple Dictionary

On Apple operating systems, including iOS and macOS, one can out-of-the-box force touch a word which yields a behavior very similar to Google Dictionary (“Look Up”).