Collaborative Dictionary » Guidelines

The guidelines below are meant to help you create interesting and relevant entries for the Collaborative Dictionary. You can contribute to the dictionary’s enrichment and enhance its value for users who search within it and are willing to become proficient in a language. We have tried to be as clear and complete as possible by adding many concrete examples. However , if you think that some points are missing or have been left unclear, feel free to contact us at and make your suggestions.

Dos and Don'ts
Make sure that the entry doesn't already exist in the dictionary
There is no point in having duplicated entries in our dictionaries.So, please make sure that the entry doesn’t already exist or that you bring something new to the existing explanations/translation. If there is already a similar entry in the Collaborative Dictionary and you want to complete its meaning or translation, add details on the context of use, give examples or other info that may help the other users better understand it, we recommend you comment upon the existing entry. If your word or phrase exists in our general dictionary (Collins), but not all the meanings/translations are covered, you can use the option to suggest a new translation/definition and a new entry will be created in the Collaborative Dictionary under your name.
Be correct and accurate in your definition or translation
  • To choose the most adequate translation, make sure that you are accurate enough.
  • If you are adding a definition, try to use clear explanations. Keep in mind that a user who has never heard the word or expression should be able to understand what it means and when it’s used.
  • If you are adding a translation, focus on the idiomatic equivalent of your word or expression. However, there are cases when a perfect match does not exist in the target language. In this case, offer the closest translation(s) and additional explanations to help users understand your entry.
  • Avoid over-translating or under-translating.

    Example 1: “petit chat” => “kitten” Here, “kitten” is over-translated, since “petit chat” means “small cat”, not necessarily “kitten”.

    Example 2: “tough guy” => “dur”. Here, “tough guy” is under-translated, “dur à cuire” would be more accurate than “dur”.

  • Pay attention to idioms and language specificity.

    Example: “kick the bucket” literally means “hit the bucket with one’s foot”, but it also means “to die” (figurative language).

  • To help other users understand your entry, do not hesitate to add synonym or near-synonym translations. Separate them by a semi-colon (;).
  • Specifying the context, the domain or the regions is important, especially if the translation changes as a result.

    Example in French-English: “scratcher” => 1. “scratch” [Music] 2. “crash ; break”. Here, the word “scratcher” has two different meanings. Specifying that the first one is related to music helps other users understand it more precisely.

Pay attention to spelling and punctuation
  • Make sure your text is typed correctly (be careful with accents, double letters, spaces between words, hyphen separated words...). For English and French words, don’t hesitate to use our free spelling and grammar checker.
  • Note that in French, unlike in English or Spanish, there is a space before the following punctuation marks: “:”, “!”, and “?”
Select the appropriate part of speech
Part of speech Description Example in English Example in French Example in Spanish
Verb Simple word or expression that expresses an action or a state and can be conjugated live on love alone ; come up faire la tournée des grands ducs ; aimer estar en el quinto pino ; hacer un favor
Adverb Simple word or expression that adds information to the sentence (e.g. time, place, manner…) but is not strictly necessary for it to be well-formed less importantly ; sometimes à bicyclette ; sans dessus dessous en el dominio literario
Noun Simple word or expression used to name a person, an animal, a thing or an action parenting ; ballot-rigging animal de compagnie ; le meilleur des mondes medidas encaminadas a
Adjective Simple word or expression used for qualifying a noun long-staple ; pretty sans faille ; adjoint ajustable ; ladino
Expression Any idiomatic expression that doesn’t fall under any of the previous categories I can’t take it; Come in! je n’ai rien à ajouter ¿A quién se le puede ocurrir?
Type in the base form
  • For verbs, use the infinitive. Don’t use gerund or other conjugated forms for stand-alone verbs!
  • In English, don’t write “to” in front of the verbs, except the case where the verb is part of a phrase in this form (for example “get to know something”).


Examples in English Examples in French Examples in Spanish



hard to tell


dans l'advesité, on connaît ses amis


¿cómo estás?

Not OK

to go


connaît curando


  • For nouns, use generally the singular form without any articles.


Examples in English Examples in French Examples in Spanish


dress robe coinquilino

Not OK


the dress


les robes


el coinquilino

  • The noun is singular defective (it does not have a plural form).
  • Examples: “jeans”, “glasses” in English or “funérailles”, “frais” in French.

  • Together with the article, the noun gains a new meaning in certain contexts.
  • Example: “the godfather”depending on the context, can have a different meaning: mafia leader, head of a criminal group.

  • They are part of an expression, with definite/indefinite articles or in plural form.
  • Examples: “the good and the bad”, “la Belle et la Bête”.

  • For adjectives and nouns, you can write the masculine form and indicate the feminine form in the “Comment” field.
  • Example:

Don’t write in uppercase
  • Type in lowercase letters except if the word only exists in capital letters (proper nouns, acronyms etc.) or if it is an expression used as a stand-alone sentence.


Examples in English Examples in French Examples in Spanish




Chinese whispers

What a nice surprise!



Premier ministre

Quelle belle journée !



Día de Reyes

¡Qué día más bonito!

Not OK



chinese whispers



premier ministre



día de reyes

Structure of an entry
“Source” field
  • The “Source” contains the entry, in other words, the term that you want to define or translate. If it’s a phrase, you can either add the base form (infinitive verb, indefinite pronouns…) or you can choose to add an inflected form, the one that seems to you most likely to be searched by users.

    For instance, for the idiomatic phrase “make oneself at home”, we can also choose to add the translation/definition of “make yourself at home” inflected form, having in mind that this one is the most frequently used.

  • Avoid writing several “items” in the “source” field. If it’s an adjective or a noun, write the masculine form in the “Source” field; you can indicate the feminine form in the “Comment” field.
  • If there are variants that have exactly the same meaning, you can add them in the “Comment” field, as shown in the examples below.

Example 1:

Example 2:

“Target” field
  • The “Target” field contains the translation or the definition of the entry.
  • If there are several translation variants, use semi-colon to separate them.
  • If there are several meanings, number them. Try also, as much as possible, to prioritize them, based on the frequency of use.
  • If appropriate, you can add indications of style, meaning, register, or region between brackets just after the meaning.


Use semi-colon to separate translation variants
Number the different meanings
“Comment” field
The “Comment” field is used for refinement: examples of use, opinions on suggested translations, cases. Comments help validating or completing entries and their translation/definition.
“Domain/Speech/Register” field

Use the “Domain/Speech/Register” field to give details on the subject area, region or style the word/expression belongs to.

You can either type it manually directly in the field or use the shortcut buttons on the right. The list is obviously not exhaustive, but we tried to put the most frequent items.

Here is the glossary of the abbreviations used:

Abbreviation Meaning
[Bus.] Business
[Med.] Medical
[Tech.] Technical
[Leg.] Legal/law
[Comp.] Computer
[UK] United Kingdom
[US] United States
[Latam] Latin America
[Slang] Slang
[Fam.] Familiar
[Hum.] Humor
[Fig.] Figurative
Irrelevant or incorrect entries
Let’s look at examples of bad entries and highlight the problems for each one.

Example 1:

Spelling ang grammar mistakes
It’s too specific and too long to be an entry
It’s not a noun

Example 2:

The noun form is not very common. It’s generally used as an adjective of “cotton” and with an hyphen: “long-staple”
In this case, it should be translated by “à longues fibres”

Example 3:

The accent is missing in Spanish: alquitrán

Example 4:

The correct translation is “passer ses vacances d’été”
The category (adj.) is incorrect; it’s a verb
An example could be added in the “comment” field: Voy a veranear en el campo cerca de mi familia = Je vais passer mes vacances d’été à la campagne près de ma famille

Example 5:

Wrong translation: “memories” should be translated by “souvenir”
It’s more idiomatic to use the singular in the French translation. A correct translation would be “c’est un bon souvenir”

Example 6:

The entry already exists in the dictionary
Good entries
Let’s look at examples of good entries and highlight the strengths for each one.

Example 1:

It’s a verb, not an expression
A semi-colon separates the variants

Example 2:

The different meanings are numbered
As there are several meanings, you can add details into brackets at the end of each

Example 3:

The two meanings are numbered and the translation variants are separated by semi-colon.
A comment was added to provide additional info on the use of the phrase
The speech style is indicated using the shortcut tags
Frequent questions and answers
What is the Collaborative Dictionary for?

Every day, new words are created. Some of them are brought to the forefront by the media. Others are diverted from their original meaning. Simply put, language is continuously in creation. A dictionary can hardly claim to be really exhaustive; but we think that everyone can contribute to the creation of a place where people can exchange their knowledge about words and languages that they know.

The Collaborative Dictionary aims at gathering the greatest number of words and expressions from all around the world, ranging from slang expressions to very specialized jargon. To achieve it, we need your help. That’s why it is designed so that you become the author of its content.

The Collaborative Dictionary was created in 2009 by the Reverso team led by its founder Theo. It was launched with Theo being the first contributor. But since then, people like you have been adding words to share with others and today, we count:

Over 100,000 activated members

Over 615,000 validated translations and definitions

What do you find in? Translations and definitions of words and phrases in many languages, written by users: idiomatic, new, poetic, argotic, slang, specialized vocabulary.

Why is the Collaborative Dictionary different from other dictionaries or forums?

When looking up a definition or a translation, you expect to find an answer quickly and to not be forced to go through lines and lines of discussion. The Collaborative Dictionary gets straight to the point. It is not a forum! It is a dictionary, with headwords and related definitions or translations.

It’s not a forum, but it’s collaborative. It means that we encourage not only people’s contributions but also interactions between them. If you don’t find the definition or translation you were looking for, you can ask for it by creating an entry in the Collaborative Dictionary. If people from the community have an answer, they will complete it. You can vote for their contribution and add a comment to explain your vote.

Can I also add phrases to the Collaborative Dictionary?
Of course! You can create an entry made of several words or you can add a phrase as long as they sound idiomatic and they correspond to what users can search for.

Example:get on like a house on fire (EN) = s’entendre à merveille (FR)

If you have other questions, do not hesitate to contact us at

How should I proceed when the entry has several parts of speech?

For example, the term “à base de fruits” in French can be used both as an adjective and an adverb. But the translation in English will be different according to the part of speech: the adjective will be translated by “fruit-based”, whereas the adverb will simply be “with fruits”. In this case, it is clearer to create two separate entries, namely one for “à base de fruits” as an adjective and the other for “à base de fruit” as an adverb.


Adv. : se nourrir à base de fruits = feed oneself with fruits, have a fruit-based diet.

Adj. : dessert à base de fruits=fruit-based desert

However if the term has two grammar categories and the translation is the same in any case, you can create a single entry and pick up the corresponding compound part of speecj from the drop-down menu. For example, “all” in English is both adverb and adjective and it will be translated in French by “tout”, which is also both adverb and adjective. In this case you create only one entry for “all” and choose the part of speech “Adverb Adjective” in the drop-down menu. Do not hesitate to add examples for each part of speech.


Adv. : all clean=tout propre (The laundry is all clean = Le linge est tout propre)

Adj. : all the people= tout le monde (all the people I know = tous les gens que je connais)

How should I proceed when the entry has different meanings and translations?

Words and expressions can often be translated in several ways. When what we fill in in the translation field is just another way of saying the same thing, we recommend you to separate the various translations by a semi-colon, as shown in the example below.

On the other hand, when the entry has multiple translations with different meanings, we prefer to number them. As shown in the example below, you can add information into brackets in order to specify the use or the context for each.

The different meanings are numbered
As there are several meanings, you can add details into brackets at the end of each