Sign Language Dictionaries

Seeing that I helped to dispel the myth of the “universal sign language” and started the Sign Language Series, I figured I had better put up sources of dictionaries of sign language, print or online. You may want to consider three sources. Let’s go through them.

Print dictionaries:

Random House Webster’s American Sign Language Dictionary
American Sign Language Concise Dictionary: Revised Edition
A lot more dictionaries can be found here –

Web sites: – Hover over “ASL DICTIONARY,” and a drop box will appear under that, letting you click on a letter. On the page that loads, either select the letter, letter sub-group such as CE, CO, CU, and so on, or pick the word if you see it and click on it. You may want to bookmark this page rather than the home page if you need to get to it quickly. – Either select the letter or scroll down the word box to find the word and click on it. This is a rather quick, elegant way to find a sign, especially several signs without jumping pages. – This one, for some reason, won’t take you to the word you want to see. It just gives you the whole list of words beginning with the first letter of the word you typed in. You have to scroll down to find the word and see the video. You have to backspace or type another letter in the search box to get to another word. – This one is nice in that you see pictures, and you see a video of how to use it in ASL, not just the sign itself. And, they delve a bit into the sign, why it was created that way to help you remember the sign. – For the babies! You can find the top 10 signs for your baby to learn. The important thing is to teach signs that is important to the baby from his/her perspective, such as mom, dad, family members, dog, cat, FOOD (especially this one!), happy, book, and DIAPER (a big one for them). The hosting company for the web site needs to up the bandwidth or otherwise speed up the video portion, as it can take a while to load. – This is similar to some of the other web sites where you click-click to get to the video, but once on the video page, you can then click from letter to letter to find the word you’re looking for, scroll down, click on the word, and watch the video all on one page, like the ASLPro web site.

and many more if you google them!

You also have many examples of words, numbers, and phrases if you search for them at – everyone has their teaching styles that fit certain learning styles, so you would have to experiment by selecting the videos that help you best.

What’s amazing is that print dictionaries are starting to go by the wayside, practically-speaking, except if you live in a rural area with unstable or no Internet access. I used to have them along with the Merriam-Webster dictionary, and they were hard to let go of in those days. It feels like EVERYTHING is online today. I haven’t had a print dictionary of ANY kind for over 12 years. The nice thing about online dictionaries is that vocabulary can expand, include new dialects, or even change signs over time without requiring expensive dictionary reprints. And there’s video available in most of the links I provided above. The print editions are static, unchanging over time, and the pictures can be hard to understand how you’re supposed to sign something if you don’t have a signer nearby to help clarify the signs.

Enjoy the learning!

One Response to Sign Language Dictionaries

  1. ray August 2, 2013 at 4:39 pm #

    Most schools teach a foreign language as part of the curriculum, so why not rudimentary sign? Just a handful (no pun intended) of signs would help connect the deaf and hearing. It also comes in hand in noisy environments!

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