If you need to look up a word during your Vietnamese study, there are many free, online dictionaries


Each site’s layout is slightly different but the content is similar. I personally use vdict.com just because I know it first.

Tip for looking up the English equivalents of Vietnamese words (mostly for intermediate learners):

  • English words can have multiple syllables but all syllables are written together into one word. For example: together is one word made up of 3 syllables to-get-(t)her
  • Vietnamese words can have 1 or multiple syllables. Each syllable is a word with its own meaning, but together with another syllable/word, they make another word with another meaning.
  • Example: học – to study; giả – fake –> học giả = a scholar. Dòng – a string/stream; dõi – to follow something –> dòng dõi = lineage
  • If you are new to Vietnamese, and you’re looking up a word in this newspaper headline Phó tổng thống Mỹ tới thăm Trung Quốc, how can you tell which word has one syllable? which has multiple syllables?
  • If you’re new and have no clue, first try looking up each syllable from left to right, then, when you put together the meaning of the single syllable and they don’t make sense, try to look up two syllables together.
  • For example, with that headline above, a look up for single syllable word would yield this:
  • Phó tổng thống Mỹ tới thăm Trung Quốc
    deputy total  (no entry) USA come visit China
    Now you have the deputy tổng thống of USA come visit China. Look up tổng thống = president –> the deputy president? he’s the vice president + of USA = the American vice-president (currently Joe Biden) –> The American vice president paid a visit to China 🙂

Don’t worry about this if you’re new. You will only have this problem when you’re seriously learning Vietnamese and realize that you have serious trouble looking up Viet words because they don’t make sense 🙂



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