Imagine you are sitting comfortably in your armchair, and then you experience a sudden urge to learn Mongolian! Of course you’ll need a dictionary for that. Well, let’s see what options you have!
I could probably stop right away. This is simply the best online Mongolian⇆English dictionary available, period. You can search by Cyrillic, Mongol Bichig, or English, there’s over 450 thousand entries, and most words have examples, so if you are searching by other word forms, there’s still a good chance you’ll be able to figure out what the word means.
You’ll need this one when you are an advanced learner, or if you want to feel like one, as it is a Mongolian only explanation dictionary. You can also search by either Cyrillic or Mongol Bichig, but unfortunately first you have to select which one you need.
Great thing about this site is that in addition to Great Explanation Dictionary of Mongolian Language it also gives you access to an Encyclopedia of Mongolian History, and most of the articles are written in very easy to understand Mongolian, and are accompanied by both audio and Mongol Bichig pdfs.
This is also a Mongolian only explanation dictionary, but it is user-edited, and not as good as the other dictionaries. Be especially careful when copying Mongol Bichig from that site, it often ignores the o/u and ö/ü distinction that is necessary in Unicode for proper searching, so when you want to search for a word in Mongol Bichig, you’d better try typing it with correct u’s and o’s according to its Cyrillic form. Also, while it lists the Mongol Bichig for the neologism өөрөг (a portmanteau for ‘selfie’), which even Bolor Toli does not have, it gives the phonetically based form ᠥᠥᠷᠥᠭ, while etymologically correct form derived from өөрийн‧ᠥᠪᠡᠷ ᠦᠨ + хөрөг‧ᠬᠥᠷᠦᠭ should obviously be ᠥᠪᠡᠷᠥᠭ. This is only a theoretical discussion though, as the word is not used in Inner Mongolia, and therefore the chances to see it written in Mongol Bichig are in fact negligible. On the other hand, the nice thing about this dictionary is the pictures that are included in most of the entries, and the first page gives a random arrangement of entries, so you can use it as ‘Mongolian word of the day’ until you have learnt all the frequently appearing vocabulary.
Despite being once again a Mongolian only dictionary, and often having incomplete entries, Wiktionary can sometimes be found useful. Most entries note the IPA transcription of pronunciation as well as Mongol Bichig spelling.
Goroha Mongolian Chinese Electronic Dictionary
Last but not least, this is an electronic dictionary developed in Inner Mongolia, and it is Chinese-Mongolian, so you can use it if you want to look up a Chinese word you have trouble translating into English. It allows to search by Chinese directly using the text field in the top right corner, and also by Cyrillic if you choose the right option on the left. Interesting thing about it is that it gives vocabulary used in Inner Mongolia, which sometimes differs from that of Mongolia. It has a problem though, like most other Mongolian language software developed in Inner Mongolia, it does not use Unicode, but rather relies on the Chinese encoding standard. This means that you cannot simply copy the results to another app, but rather have to rely on your Mongol Bichig knowledge and retype it (it is still displayed correctly, just cannot be retained after copying), and searching by Mongol Bichig does not work on a standard Unicode systems either, so there’s effectively only one search direction available.
Thanks for reading!
I hope now you are properly armed in order to start quenching your sudden urge to learn Mongolian. And in case you are not, let me tell you a useless fact about Mongolian: the word ‘dictionary’ in Mongolian is толь‧ᠲᠣᠯᠢ, which is an abbreviation for толь бичиг‧ᠲᠣᠯᠢ
᠌ᠪᠢᠴᠢᠭ᠌᠋ which literally means ‘mirrored writing’, and thus is the same as simply ‘mirror’. How cool is that!