The English German dictionaries translators actually use!
You need a good specialist English German dictionary as soon as your German translations start dealing with anything but the most general topics.
However, broadly speaking, the more specialist the subject area, the more expensive the English German dictionary. Not a huge surprise, as this reflect a dictionary’s sales volumes.
My list of specialist English German dictionaries includes the classic reference texts - those acclaimed by professional German translators working in these fields - plus some less expensive options, where available.
A used-copy is often a good alternative. Remember
that dictionaries are a tax-deductible business expense!
I'm always happy to add to the list – if you've got some tried and tested favorites, I’d love to hear about them!
Before you blanch at the price, according to the buzz in translator forums, the Ernst is the classic must-have German technical dictionary for any German translator serious about technical translation. It was also recommended by the examiners at the Chartered Institute of Linguists.
The dictionary comes in 2 volumes, German to English, and English to German: Here we have the first volume. Published 2004.
An alternative is to buy a used copy – just search Amazon – at a third of the price. If you want to go the whole hog, you can get Volumes 1 & 2 together on CD Rom for almost double the price. A used copy in good condition is probably the most cost-efficient option (especially noting the publication date – newer version to be issued in the near future?).Routledge German Technical Dictionary (Volume 1)/Fachwörterbuch Technik
This is the second edition, published 2004, and claims to be the definitive dictionary for German technical terms. Fabulously expensive – look for a second-hand copy. Again, last published 2004 – will a newer version be issued soon?
Covers 60 subject areas including Mechanical Engineering, Transportation, Production, Engineering, Electrical Engineering, Chemistry, Physics, Electricity, Construction, Food Technology, Railway Engineering and Automotive EngineeringGerman-English Technical and Engineering Dictionary (v. 1)
Yet another highly recommended dictionary. Expensive when imported new from Germany, but very reasonable when purchased from a second-hand book seller!
The Großwörterbuch Wirtschaftsenglisch by Hamblock and Wessels is said by some to be the best German to English business dictionary around, and one recommended on the translator forums. Great for business, economics and finance.
Der Grosse Eichborn 2. Wirtschaftswörterbuch Deuts
Praised as more comprehensive than the Dietl and Lorenz, but then twice the price. As usual, look for a used copy in good condition. It comes leatherbound, so should stand up to hard treatment.
Routledge German Dictionary of Business, Commerce and Finance Worterbuch Fur Wirtschaft, Handel und Finanzen: Deutsch-Englisch/Englisch-Deutsch ... (Routledge Bilingual Specialist Dictionaries)
50,000 terms and references in German and English including 4,000 abbreviations. 45 subject areas including accountancy, banking, business administration, computing, correspondence, economics, environment, finance, general commerce, human resource management, import/export, industry, insurance, law, leisure management, mathematics, media, patents, politics, property, sales & marketing, statistics, stock market, taxation, tourism, transport, welfare & safety.
At last an affordable, recommended legal German translation dictionary! Although the official title is "Legal English", this is a German-English and English-German dictionary.
Dictionary of Legal, Commercial and Political Terms, German-English (English and German Edition)
German-English, 2005, Erica Dietl and Egon LorenzHardcover: 899 pages , Publisher: Beck'sche CH Verlagsbuchhandlung Oscar Beck, Language English. Recommended as a good basic resource, covers general law, business & commerce, government & politics.
Dictionary of Legal and Commercial Term: German English/Worterbuch Der Rechts Und Wirtschaftssprache, Part Teil II: Deutsch Englisch
Another recommended volume and a requirement for legal translation courses at some institutions. This is again the German to English volume, and weighs in at a hefty 1,000 pages.
Wörterbuch der Patent- und Markenpraxis
Apart from a recommendation via the translation communitiy, there's little information about this English German dictionary of patents and trademark practice. But published in 2011 it's up to date.
(Hardcover) Ed. P.H. Collin Ow! This English German dictionary of medicine is significantly expensive. Hardcover: 625 pages, Publisher: Peter Collin Publishing, 2001.
German-English Dictionary of Medicine (Langenscheidts Fachwörterbücher)
This is a much less expensive option than the Collin, and I suspect because the publisher is Langenscheidt that it’s a serious dictionary. No idea how extensive it is – no publisher details re. number of pages.
Springer Großwörterbuch Medizin - Medical Dictionary Deutsch-Englisch / English-German (Springer-Wörterbuch) (German and English Edition)
This medical dictionary gets the thumbs up from a patent translator. Over 50,000 German terms, 125,000 English terms. Published 2004 with over 1,700 pages, so a serious contender.
Medical Translation Step by Step: Learning by Drafting (Translation Practices Explained)
This book is thoroughly recommended by medical translator Karen Schafheutle, one of the German translators I've interviewed about their life and work.
A recognized, specialist English German dictionary is always your authoritative, final point of reference. But you can also research around the topic using an online dictionary or a specialized glossary of German and English terminology, compiled by translators working in these fields.
If you can recommend a good English German dictionary which is great in its field, then we'd be delighted to add it to the list. Just use the form below.
German Translation Tips & Resources
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