American Heritage Dictionary in Review: Can You Spell Best?

ahd4-review-img_0017This week’s dictionary review section will begin with American Heritage Dictionary and Roget’s Thesaurus bundle. Pocket-able and pretty, Enfour‘s AHD4 is nothing short of astounding. For 29.99$, users are given many features that amount to the best dictionary in the App Store. After spending some lovey time with a couple of versions of the OED, Wordbook and a few others, I am convinced that AHD4 will remain on top for a long time.

Firstly, this review will not be aimed at comparing the printed version to the digital copy. According to Enfour, both contain the same content and most of the same functionality. This review will be aimed at deciding whether or not a digital copy with all of its features is worth 300+ megabytes of your iPhone’s disk space and 29.99$.

From Enfour’s Website:

“This iPhone/iPod version has the entire 2,074 page, 7.5 pound dictionary with its nearly 300,000 terms –plus sound– all available instantly at your fingertips.

The content in this newly updated edition, features revised biographical and geographical entries as well as up-to-date charts and tables for topics such as world currencies and chemical elements.

The renowned American Heritage® Usage Panel, a group of more than 200 distinguished writers, scholars, and scientists, offers advice on problems of grammar and style; engaging notes explain word histories and clarify differences among synonyms; thousands of quotations and example sentences show words in context; and elegant definitions are enhanced by numerous full-color photographs, drawings, and maps, making this one of the most complete reference tool available on any mobile platform.”

Enfour prove their experience with words and a surprising aptitude for delicious design. The interface is largely similar to the iPhone OS with search cues, history, bookmarks and images and is in a word, beautiful. Users are able to quickly and with little bother resize text, check audible pronunciation of a word and enlarge images seamlessly while looing up a word from the index or search menu.

Safari’s brilliant search implementation makes a welcome comeback in AHD4 but with some tweaks. For dictionary usage, Enfour wisened the engine with partial matching. When you enter the search field with a touch and start typing, the engine will display a catalogue of words that fits the current spelling. This feature makes a partial word study possible and immediately helps to differentiate THE WORD you want from others that are similar or derivative. The ‘+’ key adds personal notes to words and these are accessible when you come across the same word again from the index or the History function. Bookmark is a great function for review sessions and it too retains notes. And, from nearly anywhere in a definition, including Old and Middle English etymology blurbs, virtually any text is searchable by a tap.


AHD4 is current with the times yo! I didn’t know that ‘app’ was considered a word in any dictionary but it is. If AHD4 will receive content updates, my grasp of words nouveau shall literally explode. Unfortunately, I could not find ‘LMAO’ – what does that mean?

Finally, here is a remix of the AHD4’s audio regarding something else that is on my mind.

AHD4 Audio MP3 Format

AHD4 suffers from a poorly implemented itemised spelling queue. This may not be issue for many of our readers, but for those of us who are bothered with British spelling, AHD4 is not the most friendly of dictionaries. There are of course British variations of the English language in index, but rather than the definition appearing, a further step, tapping the link to the American spelling is required. Since both spellings lead to the same definition, it boils my blood wondering why Enfour did not just include the definition in either spelling.

Similarly, phonetic pronunciation omits anything not American. Supposing we choose the word ‘garage’ that in American, strangely sounds French despite its French origins while in British, it does not. ‘Again’ will only ever sound like an NBC anchor.

ahd4-review-img_0032AHD4’s index function is well-implemented and  mimics scanning down the page to find the right word. It is not however expandable. The index is merely a list of words in numerical and alphabetical order. This is not an issue of AHD4 alone but rather a purblind omission of virtually all digital dictionary vendors. However it would be a diligent move on Enfour’s part to implement at least an option to scroll through words and definitions like a paper lexicon.

Important Features

Book Mark
Digitised Pronunciation
Font Selection
Font Size Adjustment
Web Content
Content300 000
Usage Notes
Pronunciation Guide

American Heritage Dictionary is the first and strongest contender in our review. It is full of features for the learner of English and the would-be expert. Graphically, beautiful. Feature packed. It is the best dictionary in the App store but has some problems which keep it from being perfect. Though I am tempted to offer Enfour a Kiss rating, I must settle with a Grab until updates bring AHD4 to perfection.

AHD4 gets grabbed by TouchMyApps.


App Summary
Title:American Heritage Dictionary® Fourth EditionDeveloper:Enfour
Price:$29.99App Size:312 MB
  • Great Interface
  • Full-featured
  • Powerful study tools such as history, etymology and usage guides
  • 300 000 entries
  • Poor support for non-American spelling and pronunciation
  • Index function should have option to browse by word and definition


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