Free Pocket PC Dictionary - WordNetCE

WordNetCE for Windows Mobile (Pocket PC) 2000 and above

There is a bug on some devices running WM2003SE which causes WordNetCE to crash.  This is a known problem by Microsoft, and this has been addressed in the .Net Compact Framework 1.0 SP3.  Download and install SP3 to fix this issue, and a number of other .Net Compact Framework issues affecting all users.  Thanks to 'jwilam' for pointing this out.

Thanks to Abner for pointing out where to find the original working fix.


This is a project that I started after checking out the efforts of Malcolm Crowe in creating a .Net port for WordNet.  His excellent port supports WordNet 1.6.  I have modified his port with the new 2.1 changes to make it compatible with the 2.1 database.  The goal of my project is to make a high quality, free dictionary/thesaurus for the Pocket PC platform.  To date there is nothing out there that's both free and high quality.

Here's the official description of the WordNet database:

"WordNet® is an online lexical reference system whose design is inspired by current psycholinguistic theories of human lexical memory. English nouns, verbs, adjectives and adverbs are organized into synonym sets, each representing one underlying lexical concept. Different relations link the synonym sets."

If you are a writer, you are a student, if you like word puzzles, or if you want to formulate the best wording for a business letter or job application then this is the right software for you.  It will return clear, concise definitions, and even if you only vaguely know the type of word you are looking for, the powerful relations searches can narrow down your search fast!  If you are stuck on a crossword problem, just go to a wildcard search, type in the letters you do have, and place a question mark (?) in place of each blank in the crossword, and WordNetCE will search WordNet for any match to that pattern.

New Features

WordNetCE 2.6 brings formatted and colour-coded search results, and fully hyperlinked words in the results.

WordNetCE Features

The features that set WordNetCE apart, even from many commercial dictionary/thesaurus's are:

  • It's FREE!  Price is always a factor when making a product choice ;).
  • It works.  The frustrating thing about some software is that you have a certain expectation level, but within the first few hours of use you find it falls short, and you feel that you've wasted time and effort on something that will never do the job.  Well you won't be disappointed with WordNetCE; with an ever-growing list of advanced features, your experience with this software is going to start off great and just get better.
  • It's easy to use.  Having a lot of features is always nice, but sometimes a software interface can be overwhelming.  WordNetCE uses the same basic design as the original WordNet 2.1 which I always enjoyed using for its simplicity.  More advanced features are behind the scenes, and not accessing them does not lessen your experience with WordNetCE.  Don't ignore the 'Advanced Search' section though because that's where some real power searching can be found.
  • Powerful search features.  Advanced search features equal or surpass most available electronic dictionary/thesaurus's.  WordNetCE has search capabilities for: wildcard, regular expression, anagram, scrabble®, sounds like.  With that arsenal you can search words in an almost infinite number of ways.  You can even use the anagram feature to create your own puzzles, by taking a word and finding all anagrams of it.  WordNetCE also contains all of the relations searching you will find in WordNet, in the same convenient way.  Noun, Verb, Adjective and Adverb buttons along the top of a screen let you take an overview search further by branching into synonyms, meronyms, and a lot of other relation matching searches.
  • British/US spelling.  You can search with either spelling and it will give you both.  This is a feature most available electronic dictionaries are missing.
  • VGA compatible.  WordNetCE provides a number of in-built features which makes working with VGA screens a breeze.  The software will automatically adjust its size for landscape layout, and font size selection means you'll never be squinting to read results.
  • Large, modern word list.  WordNet is quite a massive project that is still evolving with more words and more relations.  At present there are 144,309 unique words in WordNet.  A great many modern terms can be found too.  One way to judge a dictionary is to challenge it with words such as 'spam' and see if you get reference to email.
  • Formatted, colour-coded results.  Search results are easy to read with the colour-coding.  Synonyms, the definition and quoted sample sentences are each colour-coded to allow quick reference to whichever search results component you are looking for.
  • Hyperlinked results.  All searchable words are hyperlinked so that you can quickly branch off to retrieve a new word overview simply by clicking on the hyperlinked word.

Example of Wildcard Search:

See my forum for a number of examples on using wildcard search and for more information on this release.

WordNetCE Screenshot of Wildcard Search

Selected Testimonials

Palmtop User magazine says: "...the WordNet dictionary is a decent resource, and the reader software works both faultlessly and fast."

Jonathon Watkins, Contributing Editor of PocketPCThoughts says: "I installed it just now and I have to say I'm impressed with the dictionary. It has extensive, clear definitions and seems to cover most words I can think of. I was apprehensive about using a dictionary with US spelling, but what do you know, it's got UK spelling as well! For example, both Aluminium and Aluminum were listed together, as well as Colour and Color. Nice, very nice in fact. The program interface was simple, yet powerful enough to do exactly what I wanted. It's a keeper!"

ctitanic says: It's "One of the best English Dictionary Freeware that I have found"

Christo de Klerk says: "An excellent, excellent, easy to use program that I never want to be without again. It provides a gold mine of information. Thanks, just what I needed."

Ramses says: It's "The most usefull program you can ever have in your pocket (PC)."

BBQ says: "Excellent dictionary program! It is kept up to date and the author is always improving it, making it the best dictionary! The WordNet dictionary itself is quite good despite its large size, but with storage cards being extremely cheap nowdays it is well worth it. The search function is very fast and its wildcard searches are perfect for crosswords and the like. Also includes a Scrabble solver. Near perfect! 9/10"

Screenshot of WordNetCE

  Screenshot of WordNetCE

How You Can Assist

I will not charge for WordNetCE, however I will gladly accept donations to try and keep this website alive.  Internet hosting costs money, and donations will help me to purchase equipment and software so that more quality freeware can be delivered from ebswift.com.  Thankyou in advance, your donation will be appreciated and put to good use for your future benefit.  I am an Australian developer working full-time, and maintaining this site in my spare time.  I write the software, documentation, web pages and maintain the site myself.
Any size donation will help me cover the costs of this site and justify its existence.  The costs of running this site and software development are entirely supported by the voluntary support of visitors.  Please donate if you like my software and want to help my development efforts :).


Firstly, you need WordNet 2.1.  The WordNet 2.1 dictionary in a default install on a PC is in c:\Program Files\WordNet\2.1\dict.  The dictionary needs to be copied to the storage card in the form of (eg) \Storage Card\WN21\dict\.

Location of WordNet dictionary after copying onto the storage card.
Location of the WordNet dict folder after copying to the device's storage card

Once you have installed the official dictionary, download my Windows Mobile port of WordNet and run while your device is connected via ActiveSync.

NOTE: during the installation, ignore the message stating that OpenNetCF needs to be installed.  Required components are installed as part of this package; the message is forced by OpenNetCF which is a limitation of OpenNetCF.


  • Prompted to locate dictionary - you locate it, the software exits, you start WordNetCE again, and are once again prompted to locate the dictionary (round and round).  There are two main causes of this :
    • The dictionary database has not been copied from the PC to the Pocket PC storage card.  Copy that folder (the dict folder) onto the storage card for your device and try locating the dictionary location with WordNetCE again.
    • A higher level folder is selected, not the dict folder.  A common problem is that people copy the entire WordNet folder, or the 2.1 folder (with all subfolders) onto their storage card.  When dictionary selection is attempted, the 2.1 or WordNet folder is incorrectly selected which means WordNetCE cannot read the dictionary files.  The fix is to try selecting the folder again, this time using the + signs beside selected folders to open up the subfolder list, repeating this until the 'dict' folder is visible, which should then be selected to solve the problem.
  • Prompted to install netcf.core....... The netcf.core is the .Net Compact Framework.  Please download and install it from here: .Net Compact Framework.


  • Pocket PC 2002 with the .Net Compact Framework OR Windows Mobile 2003.
  • All PPC and WM series users should download and install the .Net Compact Framework 1.0 SP3 if they have not done so already.  This fixes a number of issues, including one that crashes WordNetCE - the specific bug fixed is "Unexpected exception while adding an image to an imagelist on an Hx4700 and hx4705".  I have also recorded about a 12% increase in performance doing a scrabble® search.
  • In some cases a hard reset was necessary where anomalies occur; this is caused by some prior-occurring corruption in the operating system.
  • WordNet 2.1 Database.
  • ~35MB free storage card space.
  • WordNet License.

License and Download page for WordNetCE.

Please report any bugs/suggestions using the email link at the bottom of this page.

View the Change Log.

Bug TrackerBug Tracker


Pocket PC Magazine Best Software Awards 2006 FinalistPocket PC Magazine Best Software Awards 2005 Pocket PC Nominee

Hardcopy magazine publications:

It's nice to see that people around the web are taking notice. So far I've been on the front page of :

as well as getting a mention by PPC enthusiasts in various newsgroups and blogs. That's great support, thankyou! Let me know if you spot WordNetCE in a magazine, or getting a write-up on a website, thanks :)


Thankyou and acknowledgement for intellectual resources goes to:

  • Malcolm Crowe for the original .Net port
  • OpenNetCF
  • Michael Gilleland for the Levenshtein methods