Dictionaries and encyclopedias

Learn about your topic

Dictionaries and encyclopedias can help you to find definitions and key information on a topic or concept.

They also suggest related concepts and further reading.

Find entries using the Catalogue

Search for topics or concepts in the Catalogue to find entries in online dictionaries and encyclopedias.

To do this:

  1. Enter your topic or concept in the Catalogue, e.g. ethnicity.
  2. On the results screen:
    In the left hand section Refine My Results, under Format, select More options and tick Include: Reference entries
  3. Your results list is refined, and now shows definitions for your topic or concept from a range of dictionaries and encyclopedias.

More help with defining your topic.

Try subject-specific sources

Search any of the following online collections to find subject-specific companions, handbooks, dictionaries and encyclopedias across different subject areas:

For recommended dictionaries and encyclopedias in your subject area, browse a list of databases by subject or consult a subject guide.


  • New Zealand Oxford dictionary
    Dictionary of New Zealand words and their use, compiled by the New Zealand Dictionary Centre (a joint venture of Victoria University of Wellington and Oxford University Press).


English | Māori | Pacific languages | European languages | Asian languages | Sign language

Use the Catalogue to find dictionaries for specific languages.

  • e.g. to find a Russian dictionary, search for dictionaries russian

Key dictionaries by language are listed below.



  • Wakareo
    Compilation of Māori-English and English-Māori dictionaries, lexicons and word lists.

Pacific languages

European languages

Asian languages

Sign language

​Thesauri offer suggestions for similar words (synonyms) for an original word and often list words with oppositional meaning (antonyms).

They also include examples to show how words are used in context.

These encyclopedias contain authoritative and accurate information:

Wiki encyclopedia

  • Wikipedia
    An encyclopedia written collaboratively and constantly updated by its readers.

    Wikipedia is not an academic resource. Although you may find it useful for background information and entries may be very up to date, Wikipedia makes no guarantee of validity, and may contain significant misinformation, unencyclopedic content or vandalism.

Referencing styles often have guidelines for how to reference online encyclopedia and dictionary entries.

Guides for three popular styles and relevant sections:


  • Referencing
    Access a range of tools and support material to assist your referencing work.


  • Quick©ite
    Use this interactive tool to view examples of references.
    Covers a range of styles used at the University of Auckland.

Last updated : 9 March 2023
Creative Commons License CC BY 4.0 Tautohu Matatiki 4.0 ā-Ao