Chambers Deluxe Dictionary full review

Chambers has some heritage behind it, first published in 1872 and for a long while being the official dictionary for Scrabble players.  

The iOS version runs on both iPhone and iPad and provides a search for Dictionary and Thesaurus results, store favourites, and view a History. There are also games like Word Scramble, Anagrams, Hangman and so on.

See also: Concise Oxford English Dictionary review

While a serious dictionary it’s known affectionately for the occasional insertion of wry comments, the entry for ‘Mullet’, for example, reads “a hairstyle that is short at the front, long at the back, and ridiculous all round’.

Chambers Dictionary

The dictionary is sound but navigation is a bit cranky, you can’t highlight any word and search for it; and there are links to words that didn’t return results. The description for Abbey has a link to Abbey-Counter but clicking the link goes to a blank set of results.

We’re also 100 per cent convinced by some of the search results. Take a term like ‘Jumper’ which as we know in the UK is a noun for a type of knitted garment; in the US it’s a pinafore dress (both of which the Chambers Deluxe Dictionary respond). 

But we know from computing that it’s definitely also a type of computer component; it’s also often used to refer to an animal that is suited to, or takes part in, events that involve leaping over fences (typically a horse that takes part in show jumping); you could also argue that it’s reasonably common parlance for a person who commits suicide by height.

All of these entries do exist, under ‘Jump’ but there’s no direct link or connection between 'Jumper' and 'Jump' so you see just the one entry.

So while the content is unarguably good, the interface leaves a little to be desired. Although this seems to be fairly common amongst dictionary (the Official OED program for Mac OS X has one of the worst interfaces we’ve ever seen in a program).  

It’s arguable that online sites like The Free Dictionary  offer much of the same services, as well as using the ‘define:’ command in Google. But there’s always the quality and fact-checking argument; with Chambers you know there’s a level of heritage and quality behind the descriptions. And it’s always useful to have a single solid dictionary if you’re into playing games like Scrabble.

Also the whole of the dictionary is stored on the device, which makes it faster and more reliable than using Google or an online service. It’s a shame they haven’t made more of the core content though with a better interface and more solid games.

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