Why do I have so many Esperanto dictionaries? Because I consult different ones for different reasons.
English-Esperanto Dictionary by Fulcher & Long
I bought my Fulcher & Long after seeing someone reference it on the internet. It’s an older dictionary, dating to 1921, but for general everyday use, it works fine. The thing I really like about it is how it delineates the meanings of words, leaving very little guesswork as to which Esperanto word to use. Occasionally I’ll encounter a word that is very British, but generally I get along with it.
The Fulcher & Long dictionary delineates between English language homographs.
It’s only a one way dictionary (English to Esperanto) but is rather comprehensive, so long as you are not discussing the space age. The Fulcher & Long is still available in hardcover and is not very expensive
Two-way Esperanto-English dictionary by Dr. John Wells
The most up to date Esperanto dictionary for English speakers is the Esperanto-English-Esperanto dictionary by Dr. John Wells. It was published in 2010 and is thus the only 21st century Esperanto dictionary for Anglophones. If I had to bring just one dictionary with me this would be the one. It has many very modern terms in it. On the English to Esperanto side, it isn’t so good at delineating meanings at times, but that is easily solved most of the time by looking up each of the Esperanto choices in the Esperanto to English side. The Esperanto to English side also marks terms that should be avoided and offers a more mainstream term.
Esperanto-English dictionary by Montague C. Butler
My Butler dictionary is very handy for looking up an Esperanto root word to find a rather definite meaning for it plus many declinations using the system of Esperanto affixes. The definitions are in English which can be helpful when translating. While the print version is evidently hard to find, it is available on the internet and I believe has been or is being updated, correcting errors in the print edition and maybe adding newer terms. The internet version is searchable via your browser and can be found here [link]
The Bildvortaro en Esperanto is the largest picture dictionary you will find in Esperanto
The Bildvortaro en Esperanto, published in 2012 is the largest picture dictionary in Esperanto. It’s a translation of the German Duden picture dictionary. Currently the 2nd edition is available, the the first edition, dating from the 1980’s is still to be found on the internet as a pdf file. The older version is useful for some of the esoteric trades like carpentry and buggy making.
In the Bildvortaro the terms are matched with numbers on a picture page.
The dictionary is fully in Esperanto with color plates located in the back of the dictionary along with an index. One can spend hours just browsing the pages, though I recommend and urge users to consult this dictionary with care. Many of the words in it are what we call fakvortoj, that is technical terminology that won’t be much use in conversation. In my work of determining translation of woodworking terminology I have had to figure out synonyms using everyday descriptive words, (gvidrelo instead of buteo.)
Comprehensive English-Esperanto Dictionary by Peter Benson
Lastly, and unfortunately I do mean lastly, if I’m trying to find the Esperanto equivalent for something more or less uniquely American or somewhat modern, I will turn to my CEED. The CEED, or Concise English-Esperanto Dictionary by Peter Benson is a one way dictionary and is slanted towards American English. I use this as a last resort however, because the terms suggested are often not words that the everyday Esperantist might use, but very specific neologism-esque terms that sound foreign to my ear. Oftentimes when I look up a word in the dictionary it’s simply to remind me of the word I can’t quite remember. I’ll find it and say ‘OK, now I remember.’ But this dictionary has many words that just don’t look familiar to me. Plus there are omissions of pretty common words and perhaps more than a right share of errors. Happily, it is my understanding that this dictionary is currently under revision.
English is a language of idioms and sometimes I really get stuck trying to figure how to translate the meaning of an odd expression.
English Phrases and Expressions in Esperanto by Felix Woolf
At that time I turn to my phrase book, English Phrases and Expressions by Felix Woolf and hope to find it within its cover. Sometimes there will be a similar phrase in it which I use as an example to solve my problem.
Click the Image to go to the wiki based dictionary, Vortoj
I think print dictionaries and learning materials are not utilized to their full extent in this age of the internet where anyone who feels like it can just put up a dictionary page. Speaking of which, I’m one of those people. I maintain a wiki based dictionary where I put words that I’ve had to figure out or worked hard to locate, but that’s not really what I want to tell you about here. On the main page of said wiki I have links to several internet based dictionaries which I have found helpful. he links are on the lower half of the main page. You’ll note that the top one is the online version of the largest Esperanto dictionary ever printed, the Plena Ilustrita Vortaro. Having said that, I will also say that it too should be used with care. When in doubt, check a second source. That goes for my wiki also!