Best Pali dictionary for Android or online

Hello Bhante Sujata,

I am wanting to start translating the Karaniya Metta Sutta as a way to start learning Pali. Do you, or anyone else here, have any suggestions for the best android Pali dictionary, or best Pali dictionary online?

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What can I say? The best one is the one on SuttaCentral, of course!

If you go to the Pali text of the Metta Sutta (Snp 1.8), open the sidebar, and activate the lookup dictionary. This gives you results from the Concise Pali English Dictionary and the Pali Text Society, if you click through. Our program does a reasonable job of identifying the underlying Pali word, but it is far from perfect. Otherwise you can use the search box, it will give you dictionary results also.

I’m not familiar with any Pali dictionary apps for Android.

A word of advice, though: the Metta Sutta is not a great way to learn Pali. Any verse text is grammatically difficult. Imagine learning English by starting with Shakespeare.

I’d suggest beginning with the three first suttas, SN 56.11, SN 22.59, and SN 35.28. The grammar and vocabulary are much simpler, and you will get a good grounding in the basic Sutta syntax.


Wow, thank you so much. I think I will still do the Karaniya just for fun because my goal is to memorize the Sutta, but yes, I will definitely take your advice and do the first three suttas.

Thank you so much for your help. I appreciate you…in a non-self appreciating sorta way. :slight_smile:

Of course. Just sorting out the grammar for the first line will give you plenty of fun!


Dhamma Greetings,

have you tried the the Ven. Yuttadhammo’s. Tipitaka app? It has build in dictionaries:

Another standalone dictionary is this one

Best Wishes

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Pali Dictionary on Android.

I’ve been looking for a version of the PTS Pali English Dictionary that can be accessed from a dictionary reader app on android phones and tablets, in the form af a dictionary file format i.e. .DICT, DSL, XDXF, Dictd etc., but without success… I’m using Moon+reader as an ebook reader, and a nice features is the ability to link an external dictionary app for looking up words inside a book. My dictionary reader of choice is Fora Dictionary, which is freely available on the google play store, and it integrates well with Moon+reader. I have used the Tummosft Pali Dictionary app on my tablet for some time, and it has proven to be very useful, although, the app does not integrate with my reader app as a dictionary lookup, and has to be used separately. (Tummosft Pali Dictionary is no longer available on Play Store, but you can still download it from apkpure. com, just search for Pali Dictionary)

My solution:
So, I managed to convert the html version ( by Leigh Brasington) of the PED from here The Pali Text Society's Pali-English dictionary to a .DSL file, which can be run within Fora Dictionary, GoldenDict, and maybe some others. Fora has proven to be the best of what is available for android, in my opinion.

About the dictionary: The contents of the dictionary have been stripped of all style formatting like bold, italic, etc… The word in question is in bold, while the rest of the entry follows the same paragraph formatting as the html document, without any added styles. The only deliberate change I have made to the original content, is to replace double dashes with en-dashes, as a compromise, since all hyphens and em-dashes in the original text have been substituted with double dashes ( – ) in the html file.

If anyone would like to try it out, I would like to make the files available here. It is a directory called Pali-English, which contains the dictionary file with additional index files.

To install it: First install Fora Dictionary from the play store (there is an iPhone version for a price on iStore). After first run, ForaDict creates a hidden folder named /sdcard/.fora
Copy the Pali-English folder into .fora with a file browser. Open Fora again and create a profile, or simply use the default. Tap on the profile name and select “add to profile”. You will see “Pali-English” in the list. Tap the link and you are ready to go.

In Moon+reader, when you have a book open, long press on a word, and follow instructions to link a dictionary app. Fora isn’t listed by name, so you have to choose “other installed app” (wording may differ). When successful, you’ll be able to access Fora Dictionary from within Moon+reader by long pressing on a word, which will then open in the dictionary app.

I hope that this may be useful.


Greetings @michael_p and welcome to the forum :slight_smile:
Many thanks for your post.

If we can be of any assistance please feel free to ask @mods
Looking forward to seeing you around :slight_smile:

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Hallo Viveka and thank you for your kind welcome note. I guess I sneaked in through the back door by adding to this thread instead of introducing myself first. I will do that soon.

Concerning the Pali-English dictionary, I will start a new thread on the topic if that’s ok, however, I see that there are a few similar threads although some are quite old (like this one). My own effort so far revolved around getting the PTS Pali-English dictionary in a useful format to access on android devices. The above is what I’ve achieved using the Leigh Brasington htm file. That was before I became aware of the file prepared by SuttaCentral. So, I converted the SuttaCentral file to .dsl format, which is actually quite useful, so it is only fair that I share my work with SuttaCentral users, having used the raw material that is provided here. I will start my new thread on this topic.

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FYI we have made thousands of corrections to the source file that others are using.


Ven. Sujato, I have noticed that there are many differences, I can’t yet spot the corrections :sweat_smile:, and thanks for pointing it out. The html markup in your file is also much more attractive than other online sources. The dictionary .dsl file I created from the html at wasn’t very pretty either. My file would show all text entries in grey, in my dictionary reader, without any line-breaks or any other formatting. I used a java application called html2dsl to create the file, which was a first, and untidy tryout. I have created the latest dsl file in a text editor, having picked up on the .dsl tagging system, which is similar to but more basic than html, and I managed to retain most of the html formatting in the SC source file. At the moment it hasn’t been possible for me to deal with ordered lists, and nested lists that provide tabbed views in the html. All numbering in lists have been substituted with a white circle dingbat. My .dsl file is beta and with a bit more time and effort I can make it look identical to the SC source, I hope.
I’m providing the link to the .DSL files (compressed to .DZ) to be used in Fora Dictionary and GoldenDict (GoldenDict uses utf16le). The software is free, so free to promote :innocent:, and I’m including a copy of the Fora app, PC jar & Android apk, in my shared folder if anyone is eager or curious to try it. I am strictly ploughing with another man cattle here, but I am confident that the .dsl dictionary format adds a great deal of usability to the contents of the dictionary, which is not that simple in a single-file html document, or otherwise in book formats like .mobi and .epub. GoldenDict may be listed as a useful alternative to ForaDictionary, to read .dsl files, if you’d like to try it. :pray:

PTS Pali-English DSL

(P.S. perhaps I wouldn’t start a new thread afterall. SuttaCentral is a very friendly place. Some of the oldest threads in history can be found here! :rofl: a.k.a. Pali discourses.)

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The SuttaCentral version of the PTS Pali-English dictionary is clearly the best version by far. I have been unaware of the file until recently, and from reading the discussions over here it is clear that a great deal of earnest effort and dedication have gone into it. I would like to thank the people who were involved in the project. You have done us all a great service.
I have now converted the .html document to .dsl format, and I have cleaned up the code. Please accept this as my humble thanks offering.

PTS Pali-English DSL-format

I have added to the dsl file the following sections for ease of use:
Pronunciation (unofficially copied from Bhikkhu Anandajoti’s guide at Ancient Buddhist Texts)
The code is clean and I checked it with tidy (0 errors). I placed two files in my shared drive folder, in utf8 and utf16 encoding. The utf8 file is good for Fora dictionary and the utf16 file is good for GoldenDict. I hope that this may be useful to other learners.

(The only significant difference in display between the beautiful html file and the dsl file is the colouring of the etymology section in the text, where the grey text wasn’t easy to reproduce.)

Best wishes

Tag added by moderator


BTW, there are still a lot of tiny mistakes. I am correcting it and I will be updating the file soon. Funny, I just checked the word Kheḷāpaka in the scanned 1953 PTS print, and the word is spelled Kheḷākapa.


Thanks so much, this is great. If you make any corrections, is it possible to feed them back to SC? Ideally if we could correct a single source and transform it to our needs.

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Thank you very much for recommending suttas to study Pali! I will try to learn the pali from these three.


@sujato Yes, of course, that would be ideal. Luckily, in my previous post I am referring to mistakes in my own file. The corrections I have made so far to the source were absolutely minimal, like adding full stops and changing a parenthesis to a square bracket where it caused problems in my code. I sometimes shifted some of the etymology sections that were still in the definition section, on account of the confusion caused by the absence of a closing bracket in the text, where it may have gotten lost during the original OCR scan. In the pts-ped.html file, some square bracketed quotes, are sometimes un-closed, and sometimes a square bracket closes with a parenthesis. I noticed that the latter is the same in the printed text edition, and therefore not a mistake (although I think it was originally a typesetter’s mistake). Un-closed square bracket quotes, in the SC file are mistakes though, and I have come across a few instances, some minor, some more serious. An examlpe is:

cp. BSk vivartayati to cast off a garment, Divy.39). In the second case ( vivaṭa˚ ; ) it is pp. of vivarati [vi + vṛ : see vuṇāti

 …where the closing bracket is absent after vuṇāti . This is a less serious example. More serious examples are, where the closing bracket is missing, and therefore overlooked. An example is:

adjective= pakkhandin Snp-a.164
■ f. pakkhandikā [Ved. (?) praskandikā, BR. without refs. diarrhoea, dysentery DN.ii.127 (lohita˚); Ja.iii.143; Ja.v.441 (lohita˚); Mil.134.

 …In my file it looks like this:

= pakkhandin Snp-a.164
:black_small_square: f. pakkhandikā diarrhoea, dysentery DN.ii.127 (lohita˚); Ja.iii.143 ; Ja.v.441 (lohita˚); Mil.134 .

[Ved. (?) praskandikā, BR. without refs.]

 …where the closing square bracket after …ref.(]) is present in the printed text. I can trace the instances in my code where I altered these.

Another case:

[abstr. fr. pisuṇa, cp. Epic Sk. paiśunya. The other (diaeretic) forms are pesuṇiya & pesuṇeyya backbiting, calumny, slander MN.i.110; DN.iii.69; AN.iv.401; Vin.iv.12; Mnd.232, Mnd.260; Pv-a.12, Pv-a.15.

 …and in my file it looks like this:

backbiting, calumny, slander MN.i.110 ; DN.iii.69 ; AN.iv.401 ; Vin.iv.12 ; Mnd.232 , Mnd.260 ; Pv-a.12 , Pv-a.15 .

[abstr. fr. pisuṇa, cp. Epic Sk. paiśunya. The other (diaeretic) forms are pesuṇiya & pesuṇeyya.]

 …The editor at the time could only have guessed the bracket after pesuṇeyya over here, unless the entry was looked up in the printed edition.

An instance where I changed the actual text is here:

In pts-ped.html :

For sound change P. ch<sk. kṣ cp. P chamā<k ch churik etc.

 …My file, which was corrected against the scan:

For sound change P. ch > Sk. kṣ cp. P chamā > kṣāra, chārikā > kṣāra churikā > kṣurikā etc.

This instance was easy to spot thanks to the transposition process from html to dsl where I had to scan for “<” and “>” in the text. At the moment I am unsure how the html- and dsl- files can be kept in-sync, other than by hand coding. However, it took me just over a week to produce the dsl file, and I have only learnt the dsl markup while doing this. I think that with more time, less urgency, I can definitely work out a route, and contribute to cleaning up and smartening up the pts-ped.html file, as well as producing a dsl file that is identical to the html version.
With some patience.

P.S. That said, it would be great if my DSL file can live somewhere in on the SC archive, with your approval of course.

DSL file updated today


Great, well that looks like a start anyway.

I happened to fix a couple of entries myself today, here is the diff:

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@sujato Very well. As for now, I am awarding my .dsl file with toy-status. A usable, but dated clone of the SuttaCentral archived html version. This leaves SuttaCentral with the best current digital version of the dictionary, and delegates the DSL version created by myself to a limited use area, with emphasis on dictionary-reader apps on Android devices. All future updates to the dictionary contents of the dsl file will depend on a suitable environment to update and sync between dsl and json (nothing is impossible). That is a plan, at least. Thank you for your patience sir, and thank you for providing pts-ped in a very readable format. :pray:


Just a last thought…
I don’t think it will be possible to auto sync corrections between my dsl and SC json / html source. Reason being, that my markup is too simplified (it is in fact only a screencapture of the ped.html) and setting up a database to insert entries from html tags and span elements in the source to DSL tags are not conceivable, and probably a waste of precious time (I’m not a programmer either). Html lists, which are numerous in the source file, were the bugbears that led me into the wood. As I mentioned before, I had to strip all list elements from the dsl markup and replace them with p tags (in dsl they are [m] tags) that include the list numbers as entities, and in addition I had to enter by hand lists containing Greek letters, and remove numbers from lists containing no numbers which got added during the conversion process. I ran tiresome regex / python find-replace functions for several days to convert, insert, and remove tags, close them correctly, make sure no nested tags exist, and so on. . So, all I can think of right now, is to maybe do a midnight oil session per semester, or once a year, update the content, and release a fresh up-to-date version in dsl format using my method of transcription :scream: (or find a better way to do so). Whatever the case, any corrections made to the content will have to be added by hand to the current dsl file or a newly made one. So, it is better for me not to correct content inside this DSL file, but only add corrections that were made in the source file (with permission), and report on mistakes at GitHub when I find any. The few corrections I have made during my first effort will have to be forgiven if I can’t trace and report them, but I will try. That way I will keep out of hot water, and prevent hybridisation. My idea is to create a file which is identical in appearance to the source. In terms of markup, the DSL is really more like an artistic impression to the point of photorealism, of html/css markup. And then the question remains, do we need it in .DSL format, a semi-obscure dictionary markup?? The answer is yes :nerd_face:
Besides all that, I hope that my efforts will not be perceived as a contest. I’m relying on your kindness to allow me to use your well-formed ped file in this little renegade project. Tea?
Thanks and blessings.

how do i open the sidebar for the lookup dictionary?

Hi, there!
For the record if not directly relevant anymore: I think arguably the smoothest experience will give us the Digital Pāli Dictionary (DPD) of Ven. Bodhirasa (South Africa), which he still updates regularly. It includes various details not found in any other dictionary. It runs via Golden Dictionary and MDict. Detailed instructions on how to set everything up can be found via: Home - Digital Pāḷi Dictionary. If you want to receive updates, please PM your e-mail address, and I would forward it to be included in the mailing list.

The good thing about Golden Dictionary is that you can also add the Critical Pāli Dictionary, the PTS Pāli-English Dictionary, Concise Pāli-English Dictionary, Dictionary of Pāli Proper Names and some more. The first can be downloaded via:, the other ones via: Release Second release · simsapa/simsapa-dictionary · GitHub. The net result looks like this; the entry for the different dictionaries all lines up neatly:

For learning Pāḷi in general, I also warmly recommend using, alongside with what is outlined above, grammar guides identifying the meaning and grammatical from of each word, thus leaving much of our nerves intact. For the sutta you mentioned, there is, for example, Ven. Ānandajoti’s Tisuttanirutti, which provides a grammatical analysis of the Metta-, Maṅgala- and Ratanasutta: A Grammatical Analysis of Three Discourses.

I can also recommend the grammatical analysis of the whole of the Dhammapada:

For getting a convenient grasp of the grammar itself, I furthermore would recommend the Pāḷi grammar Māgadhabhāsā (Pāḷi) – A Compendious Grammar on the Language of Pāḷi Buddhism (Second Edition):