Did you know that the Diccionario de Americanismos is available to search online? The Diccionario de Americanismos is the dictionary of words from Latin America and definitely an excellent reference source.
I am so happy that the Asociación de Academias de la Lengua Española (ASALE) made this incredible search tool available. Last year I bought the print version of the dictionary for about $80 and I really love it! The downside is that is a huge book that is impossible to carry around, so I can only use it at home. But now, with this online version, I can do my searches anywhere.
What to expect from the Diccionario de Americanismos:
1. The best reference source for Spanish slang, colloquial or local Spanish:
In my opinion, it is the best reference source for colloquial Spanish, Spanish slang and phrases. Just look at the numbers: it includes 70,000 words and 120,000 definitions.
You have access to Spanish words from all Latin American countries.
3. It is the most updated dictionary:
It was recently published in 2010.
4. It is backed up by the prestigious ASALE
5. The print version includes awesome appendices with words by topics, city names, Latin American nicknames, etc.
What the Diccionario de Americanismos is not:
1. It’s not portable:
Since the book covers tons of words it has to be big. And, I am not complaining, my point is that is a book that you cannot carry around everywhere you go.
2. It’s expensive:
This point is also related to the previous. The book is expensive.
3. It’s only in Spanish:
I point this out keeping in mind that many of our readers are English-speakers.
4. Sorry, no words from Spain:
As stated in the book’s title, this is a dictionary about “americanismos” (words from the Americas) only and therefore you will not find colloquial words from Spain. I would really love to have a book like this that covers the colloquial and local words from every Spanish-speaking country.
Diccionario de Americanismos Online: Videos
How to search the Diccionario de Americanismos Online: Step by Step
1. Go to the website of the Asociacion de Academias de la Lengua Española: http://www.asale.org/
2. The Diccionario de Americanismos is located at the right red window. Click on the arrow to reveal the list of dictionaries available. The Diccionario de Americanismos is 4th on the list.
3. Once selected, type in the word you want to search. Press “enter” or click the magnifying glass button.
You need to know the word in order to use this search tool. The Diccionario de Americanismos online does not search inside the definition.
4. If the word is in the dictionary you will get a result like this:
Keep in mind that you are getting the results just as they appear in the printed dictionary. That is why you will see many abbreviations. Here is a list with the meanings of the most common abbreviations used in the Diccionario de Americanismos. Understating them will lead you to a better interpretation of the word and definition.
5. If you want to look for additional words use the search box located within the same window instead of the right red box. After doing a search, the right red box reset itself back to the regular Royal Spanish Academy Dictionary (DRAE) that is not the same as the Diccionario de Americanismos.
Search results of words with multiple definitions
The previous example was a word that is used only in ONE country with only ONE definition. The next one is an example of a search result for a word that is used in MANY countries and has MANY definitions.
The first part of the search results will show the definitions given to this word in different Spanish-speaking countries.
Use the scroll down to see the second part that shows phrases or idiomatic expressions that use that particular word. You will notice this symbol (~). Substitute the symbol (~) with the word you searched to form the complete phrase. In this particular example I searched for the word guagua. So the first three phrases are (see the next image):
a. ~ atómica = guagua atómica
b. ~ de cajón = guagua de cajón
c. ~ de pan = guagua de pan
Use common Spanish verbs to get lists of hundreds of phrases
Another trick I use is to type in the search box common Spanish verbs like ser, estar, dar, tener, echar and ir. This will trigger a list of phrases that start with or include those verbs. Here is an example searching with the verb ser.
Avoid this mistake!
In step number five (5) I mentioned that the right red box takes you back to the DRAE after doing any search. This happens no matter which of the four dictionaries you are using. This is what happened to me the first time and I almost went crazy!
Let’s pretend that you want to search for the word motoconcho in the Diccionario de Americanismos and you forget to change the selection. By default the red box is on the regular Diccionario de la Lengua Español (DRAE):
You will be redirected from the ASALE.ORG to the RAE.ES website and the chances are that the word is not in part of the regular dictionary. On top of that, the Diccionario de Americanismos is not listed as an option in the RAE.ES website. I was puzzled because both pages look very similar, and it took me a minute to realize that I was actually on another website.
These are the signs that you are looking in the wrong site:
1. You were redirected to a different website (the logo is blue, not red)
2. A message indicates that the word you searched is not found
3. The Diccionario de Americanismos is not listed as an option in the drop down
Don’t panic! If that happens to you, just go back to http://www.asale.org and start over.
Check out these other Spanish Slang Dictionary articles.