🇺🇸 How to Install and Activate Built-in French Dictionaries On Your iPhone

If you happen to own an iPhone, and if you happen to be learning French, well, I have some wonderful news for you as far as the reading efficiency goes.

Did you know that your iPhone is so awesome a language learning tool that it has a bunch of powerful dictionaries built-in ?

The dictionaries are available on any iPhone running iOS 9 or above

What’s more, if you target language is French… it’s as though iPhones themselves were created for the very purpose of helping you study French.

What makes me say that?

One of the built-in dictionaries is Oxford-Hachette French Dictionary, which is in my estimation is the best French – English English-French dictionary there is. No kidding.

That being said, let’s cut to the chase and see how to install built-in French dictionaries on your iPhone and make them actually work to your benefit.

Target found

OK. Here you are, reading a nice article in French, and…



Man, I really need to know what the word “quiconque” means. Without it I can’t read on.

Luckily, iPhones have a handy functionality called “Look up”.

Target locked

How do you “Look up” words on iPhone?

  1. Lightly press your finger on the word of interest. Important: Don tap.
  2. Keep your finger pressed on the screen.
  3. In around 1.5 seconds the word you’re lightly pressing on will get a blue text highlight.
  4. Release your finger from the screen.
  5. A menu above the word of interest will pop up. Copy | Look up | Share…
  6.  Tap on “Look up“. Good!



If you don’t have any built-in dictionaries installed, that’s what you will see on the screen.


It doesn’t look like much for now, but let’s play around with settings a bit to make dictionaries work.

Tweaking settings

Naturally, you are to open up “Settings” on your iPhone.

Then tap on “General”


Scroll down a bit and tap on “Dictionary”


Once there, you’ll see a list of built-in dictionaries on your iPhone.


Since we are focusing on French, tap on both “French” and “French-English”.

The downloading will commence.

No rush, it will take around 10-15 seconds.


Once done, you’ll see blue checkmarks next to the downloaded dictionaries.

Blue checkmarks indicate that the built-in dictionaries are active. They will bestow knowledge upon you through “Look up”.



If you tap on an active dictionary, the blue checkmark will disappear, thus making the dictionary inactive. They won’t show up inside “Look up” window.

Easy peasy.

Ready, willing, and ABLE

Now that we are all ready, let’s give it another try at defining “quiconque”.

Select the word and tap on “Look up”


Whoa, would you look at that!

Our labour bore fruit.


In fact, we are given a choice here as to which dictionary to check with.

We downloaded and activated two French dictionaries, remember?

Let’s pick the French-French definition first and see what the word means.


Yeah… Too many French words for me to process now.

No worries, that’s when Oxford Hachette steps in and saves the day.


I told you, the best French-English dictionary there is.

The final word

There you have it!

Trust me, this iPhone functionality will save you a ton of time, especially if you are as an omnivorous reader of all things French as I am.

Also, it’s worth pointing out that “Look up” menu can be brought up anywhere on your iPhone as long as you can select text.

In your Mail, for one



In iBooks, for another




All of which in total makes “Look up” a real-must have tool in your language learning toolset.

The amount of time it saves…

Not only that, you can also build on that foundation even further to make the most of the language learning experience using your iPhone.

But that, gentle reader, is what I will expand upon in the articles to come.

Thanks for the read!

Should you feel an urge to drop a line in the comments section below, please, by all means, do so.

I will graciously respond to every comment 😉

Until next time!


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