Which one of the following is correct?

What does this word mean? I checked it in the dictionary but ...

What does this word mean? I checked it on the dictionary but ...

Is there better way to say it?


"In the dictionary" is normal; "on the dictionary" is not.

In the GloWbE corpus of Global English, "in the dictionary" occurs 1951 times, and "on the dictionary" 46 times; but only about 10 of the latter are actually in this sense (the rest are different phrases such as "work on the dictionary").

It's possible that this is changing, as some people may be thinking of "the dictionary" as an app on their device. We often use "on" with apps or programmes (eg "on Facebook", "on Google"). There are a few instances in the corpus which might be examples of this, eg " i searched on the dictionary for the herb u mentioned".

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  • 1
    It might be worth mentioning that the phrase is perhaps more natural without "it" or with "looked ... up" instead of "checked"... So, either "I checked in the dictionary" or "I looked it up in the dictionary". – Catija Mar 23 '17 at 23:48

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