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university of tampere: language services: resources for writers:
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Language Services



MOT Englanti is an excellent general-purpose bilingual dictionary that can be found on Nelli. It is free for all staff and students at the University of Tampere. For those who do not have access to these resources, is a reasonable substitute.

The EUdict (European dictionary) is a collection of online dictionaries. As a collaborative project, EUdict has accumulated a substantial database of expressions and terminology that one cannot find in general‑purpose English–Finnish–English dictionaries. If you cannot find the term you are looking for in MOT, then this is an excellent site to try.

UK English

The Oxford English Dictionary (OED) is a widely respected source for British English spelling and definitions. The dictionary can also be accessed through Nelli, and it is free for all staff and students at the University of Tampere. For those who do not have access to the OED, the excellent Oxford Dictionaries (made by the compilers of the OED) is free to all. Bear in mind that both the OED and Oxford Dictionaries use the “z spelling” (e.g. “organize” rather than “organise”) that is commonly (though incorrectly) assumed to be only used American English.

The Collins English Dictionary and the Cambridge Advanced Learner’s Dictionary are also well respected, and they offer both the “s spelling” and “z spelling”, and indicate which is preferred in British English.

American English

If you are writing for an American English audience, your go-to online dictionary is the Merriam-Webster.


Texts that continually rely on the same generic terms can be very dull to read, but for writers whose first language is not English, finding appropriate synonyms can be a process fraught with danger. Given that a synonym may have an entirely different meaning depending on the context, one should be wary of using unfamiliar words. All is not lost, however. The above-mentioned Oxford Dictionaries provides the very comprehensive and user‑friendly Oxford dictionaries thesaurus, which enables the user to cross-reference entries to ensure the accuracy and appropriateness of the synonym. The popular can also useful in some applications, but it occasionally produces inappropriate results, so we would recommend visiting the Oxford dictionaries thesaurus first.

Field-specific terminology

While the dictionaries mentioned above are great general-purpose resources for writing in English, they are unlikely to list highly specialised terms that are unique to certain fields. Although not as definitive, Wikipedia can be a very useful tool for checking field‑specific terminology. If, for example, you are looking for a term that you do not know in English, first search Wikipedia for the term in your own language; it is quite likely that there is an English-language entry for the term as well. While one should of course exercise caution and double-check the accuracy of the terminology found on Wikipedia, it is generally quite reliable.

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