Documentation — FreeDict

Table Of Contents

Most of the documentation can be found in the wiki. This page is mostly an overview over the available resources. A good starting point is the section on frequently asked questions.

Our dictionaries, its sources and recommendations for programs to use them can be found on the downloads page. If you are stuck at any point, you might want to ask for help.

Getting Started

All of the sources are hosted on GitHub. Scripts and utilities are contained in the tools repository of which you need a copy. The FreeDict tools assume a minimal set of software to be installed. The README of the tools repository gives a short introduction on how to set things up.

As soon as everything is set up, you can build a dictionary by changing to its directory and type make, so for instance:

cd dan-eng

Creating And Importing Dictionaries

The dictionaries are stored in the TEI XML format, storing semantic information independent from the actual formatting. This means that it is easily possible to target any dictionary program by writing a conversion utility. It also enables arbitrary re-use.

Writing Dictionaries By Hand

An in-depth introduction into FreeDict internals, including documentation on how to format and process dictionaries can be found in the FreeDict HOWTO.

We do not offer a general-purpose way to edit dictionaries. Sometimes people use a XML-capable editor and enter all words by hand, others might use some simplified format and use a transformation to the TEI format. Either way is fine and depends on your preferences and skills. If unsure, it is best to ask on the mailing list.

Importing Dictionaries

Most of the dictionaries have not been written by hand, but where imported from other free sources. The import centre gives an overview about which dictionaries have been imported with which program and is a good starting point for new importers.

Please note that the fd-dictionaries repository does not contain all dictionaries. Those automatically imported from another source are kept outside of the version control system, because it is enough to have a reproducible importer script.


Meta information about our dictionaries can be retrieved over a CORS-enabled API, both in XML and JSON format. It can be used to retrieve download links and other meta information useful for embedding them into a dictionary program. The URLs are

The individual fields are documented here.

New Dictionary Output Formats

We are always trying to reach more users by exporting into more output formats and our limiting factor is solely the number of contributors. There is a list of clients and ideally we would support them all, one day.

Licencing and Reuse

FreeDict provides its dictionaries under free and open source licences that allow the users to study, modify, extend and redistribute them, given that the licencing conditions are met. Each dictionary has separate licencing terms which are located in the TEI header at the beginning of each dictionary file. We advice you to check this out first or to ask on the mailing list, if unsure.

The majority of our dictionaries is licenced under GPL. If you plan to modify, extend or bundle these dictionaries, you should study the licence terms carefully. To the best of our knowledge, GPL does permit bundling the dictionary in a commercial product, but requires you to inform the user about the licence of the data. Furthermore you need to link the dictionary sources, including all modifications made. Definite advice can only be given by a lawyer and we make you hereby aware that we are only representing our understanding here.