The Free Dictionary by Farlex

Common Sense Media says

Excellent reference with games, fun graphics, and more.

Age(i)

2
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17

Quality(i)

 

Learning(i)

What parents need to know

Ease of play

The interface is busy with lots of content, but the app is still pretty easy to use.

Violence

Contains excellent definitions of terms, including words relating to violence.

Sex

Contains excellent definitions of terms, including words and slang relating to sex.

Language

Contains excellent definitions of slang and curse words.

Consumerism

The free version has banner ads at the bottom and Google ads embedded into entries. The $3.99 paid version is ad-free (and includes additional features). Users can remove ads from the free version with a $1.99 in-app upgrade as well; this upgrade does not include the additional features of the $3.99 version.

Drinking, drugs, & smoking

Contains excellent definitions of basic terms, including slang.

Privacy & safety

Users can share entries via Facebook, Twitter, SMS, and email, and links in the app can take users to outside commercials and other websites. Farlex's user-friendly privacy policy states that the company doesn't collect personal information unless users provide it and that the company doesn't provide or sell information to third parties except to process credit card payments.

Parents Need to Know

Parents need to know that The Free Dictionary by Farlex -- though not slick or sleek (basically wiki-style) -- may be the best all-around dictionary app for content and functionality available in the app stores. The free version has banner ads at the bottom and Google ads embedded into entries with links, but these can be removed with a $1.99 in-app purchase. As with any good dictionary, definitions for sex, drugs, and curse words give useful, objective information -- not dramatization or glorification. Users can post word entries to Facebook or Twitter or send them via SMS or email.

What kids can learn

Subjects

Language & Reading

  • phonics
  • reading
  • reading comprehension
  • spelling
  • vocabulary

Skills

Thinking & Reasoning

  • asking questions
  • investigation
  • making conclusions
  • part-whole relationships
  • thinking critically

Self-Direction

  • academic development
  • initiative
  • personal growth

Communication

  • asking questions
  • conveying messages effectively

Engagement, Approach, Support

Engagement

Games, a daily word, news, and more pull kids and adults in, though the layout could use design improvements and a bit of color.

Learning Approach

The breadth and depth of content is amazing, as are the options for display, search, and language. Kids with different learning styles should find a way to learn vocabulary here.

Support

Fourteen world languages, translation, audio, and main-page controls make the app very accessible.

What kids can learn

Subjects

Language & Reading

  • phonics
  • reading
  • reading comprehension
  • spelling
  • vocabulary

Skills

Thinking & Reasoning

  • asking questions
  • investigation
  • making conclusions
  • part-whole relationships
  • thinking critically

Self-Direction

  • academic development
  • initiative
  • personal growth

Communication

  • asking questions
  • conveying messages effectively

Kids can learn a basic but nearly endless body of knowledge in addition to basic language skills like spelling, pronunciation, derivation or etymology, part of speech, synonyms, and antonyms. Definitions include objective and non-glorified definitions of sex, drugs, and curse words. The FREE Dictionary by Farlex is an excellent tool crammed full of games, cited classic reference information of all kinds, and flexible controls.

This Learning Rating review was written by Leslie Crenna

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What's it about?

Right off the bat, THE FREE DICTIONARY BY FARLEX can be toggled into 14 of the most common world languages, not to mention translate for individual searches. The Customize button allows users to toggle 12 main-page daily updates. At the top, users type words into the text box for word searches or expand for advanced search options, bookmarks, settings (such as larger fonts), and sharing.

Is it any good?

QUALITY
 

This may be the most comprehensive, well-cited, fun, crammed-with-content dictionary app available in the app stores. Elementary-school-age kids will want to play the games, and everyone will find something of interest in the daily updates (though they're written at the upper-elementary level). With the ability to customize daily content, change font size, and access simple word games and cartoon graphics, The Free Dictionary by Farlex is appropriate and engaging for kids of almost all ages.

In addition to being fun, the app will help improve spelling, vocabulary, and knowledge through complete, adult-level dictionary entries that include part of speech, audio, multiple definitions, translation, origins, and thesaurus entries. The app pulls dictionary (including legal, medical, financial) and encyclopedic content from numerous respected sources such as McGraw-Hill, Houghton Mifflin, HarperCollins, the Farlex clip-art collection copyright Princeton University, and Wikipedia, and provides citations for each search. Design is not as slick as it could be, but it's worth the trade-off. The only feature lacking is built-in voice recognition, but the device-level recognition works amazingly well (Stephanopoulos came up lickety-split).

Families can talk about...

  • Read a daily feature together at mealtime or during car rides (with the passenger reading, of course).

  • Play dictionary games. Choose a difficult word and send one player out. Have other players make up definitions and write them down, along with the correct definition. Have the player come back and guess the correct definition.

App details

Devices:iPhone, iPod Touch, iPad, Android, Kindle Fire
Price:Free
Pricing structure:Free, Paid
Release date:December 6, 2012
Category:Reference
Size:1.30 MB
Publisher:Farlex, Inc.
Version:Android varies; iOS 3.2.1
Minimum software requirements:Android varies; iOS 4.3 or later

This review of The Free Dictionary by Farlex was written by

About our rating system

  • ON: Content is age-appropriate for kids this age.
  • PAUSE: Know your child; some content may not be right for some kids.
  • OFF: Not age-appropriate for kids this age.
  • NOT FOR KIDS: Not appropriate for kids of any age.

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Quality

Our star rating assesses the media's overall quality.

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Learning ratings

  • Best: Really engaging, great learning approach.
  • Very Good: Engaging, good learning approach.
  • Good: Pretty engaging, good learning approach.
  • Fair: Somewhat engaging, okay learning approach.
  • Not for Learning: Not recommended for learning.
  • Not for Kids: Not age-appropriate for kids; not recommended for learning.

Find out more

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