ASL Dictionary – Learn Essential Vocabulary
This ASL dictionary is for you! We have included over 1,000 words and phrases from our Complete 3-Level ASL Course vocabulary lists.
This means that if you learn this essential vocabulary from our dictionary, you can start having basic conversations in sign language before you know it!
Are you intimidated by massive ASL dictionaries? Then this is the right place to start!
Our dictionary is not small, but it is not huge either. Just how Goldilocks would like it – our dictionary has just the right amount of vocabulary to not be too overwhelming!
If you actually take the time to learn the vocabulary in our ASL dictionary below, then you will have learned enough to start having basic conversations!
Keep in mind, though, that you also need to learn ASL syntax and grammar in order to communicate correctly in American Sign Language, so don’t forget to check out our complete American Sign Language course options where you can learn American Sign Language and not just vocabulary!
ASL Dictionary | By Letter
If you’re not able to join our Complete 3-Level ASL Course just yet, you can focus on learning the words in this ASL dictionary and you will have a great foundation for becoming fluent in American Sign Language when you’re ready!
=> Click here to visit the Start ASL Dictionary
ASL Dictionary | By Category
Not ready to learn everything just yet? Or are you looking for something specific? Check out our sign language dictionary categories below!
- 🏁 First Signs
- 🎮 Activities and Hobbies
- 🐴 Animals
- 👶 Baby Sign Language
- 🎨 Colors
- 🧏 Deaf Culture
- 😀 Emotions and Traits
- 🍔 Food and Drinks
- 👪 Friends and Family
- 🗺️ Geography and Culture
- 👨⚕️ Health and Medical Care
- 🏠 House and Home
- 👩🏫 Jobs and Careers
- 💍 Life Events
- 💸 Math and Money
- 🔢 Numbers
- 👥 People
- 🤟 Phrases
- 👕 Descriptions and Clothing
- ❓ Questions
- 🗓️ Routine
- ⚾ Sports and Music
- ❄️ Seasons and Holidays
- 📚 School and Education
- 📱 Technology
- 🕑 Time
- 🚗 Transportation
- ☀️ Weather
The Best Sign Language Dictionary Recommendations
Want to learn even more vocabulary? A hard copy sign language dictionary is always great to have around as you are learning American Sign Language! We have checked out many dictionaries and read their reviews. There are a lot of good dictionaries out there, but, from what we have found, the best ones are listed below.
Please note that when you choose to purchase through the external links on this website (in many but not all cases) we will receive a referral commission. However, this commission does not influence the information we provide in this site. We always give honest opinions and reviews to share our findings, beliefs, and/or experiences. You can view our full disclosure on this page.
Religious Signing: A Comprehensive Guide For All Faiths
If you want to learn religious signs, or plan to interpret church services, this book is wonderful! It’s a great comprehensive guide and is easy to understand. We highly recommend it!
American Sign Language Dictionary, Third Edition
This is a huge book and explains more than 5,000 signs and has over 8,000 illustrations. You definitely need to have a dictionary like this if you are learning American Sign Language! When you want to look up an obscure word, it’s most likely in here!
The Gallaudet Dictionary of American Sign Language
This is a very popular ASL dictionary. The book includes over 3,000 signs and comes with a DVD. You are able to type in a word on the DVD and the word comes up with a video in ASL. It is great for both beginners and seasoned signers. Highly recommended!
The American Sign Language Handshape Dictionary
This is a great resource in that the dictionary is organized by handshape, not by word. This way, when you see a sign, you are able to look it up to learn what it means. We highly recommend this book for the ASL learner.
Random House Webster’s American Sign Language Dictionary
This dictionary is a great resource to have. It not only illustrates vocabulary in ASL (the pictures are good, but not the best), but also idiomatic expressions. Knowing expressions like these is very important when engaging in an actual conversation with a Deaf person. We recommend this dictionary for anyone learning sign language.
Random House Webster’s American Sign Language Medical Dictionary
Medical terminology is always the most difficult to learn and find. I don’t think I ever really learned medical terms in ASL from taking a class. Therefore, this book is a must-have resource!
Signs of Drug Use: An Introduction to Some Drug and Alcohol Related Vocabulary in American Sign Language
This book is a must for any interpreter, healthcare professional, counselor, psychologist, or educator involved with the Deaf population. It is very comprehensive and presents numerous signs and approaches for each drug and alcohol related concept. This book is not for beginners, but is a wonderful vocabulary tool for those already familiar with ASL linguistics.
Signs of Sexual Behavior: An Introduction to Some Sex-Related Vocabulary in American Sign Language
This book is a must for any interpreter, healthcare professional, counselor, psychologist, or educator involved with the Deaf population. It is very comprehensive and presents numerous signs and approaches for each sex related concept. This book is not for beginners, but is a wonderful vocabulary tool for those already familiar with ASL linguistics.
Signs of Health (BSL) Pocket Medical Sign Language
This is a great book for any interpreter, healthcare professional, counselor, psychologist, or educator involved with the Deaf population. It is a pocket-sized dictionary and is a wonderful medical vocabulary tool for those already familiar with ASL linguistics.
Compact Visual Dictionary of Expressive Worship
This is a very comprehensive dictionary that includes signs, gestures, body movements, and more for presentations and the performing arts.
ASL in Motion Dictionary (DVD)
Here is a DVD sign language dictionary (if you were looking for one). Instead of a book or software, this DVD would work just as well as an ASL dictionary.
Ward’s Natural Sign Language Thesaurus of Useful Signs and Synonyms
A great sign language thesaurus and probably the only one available!
What’s Your Favorite Sign?
Share in the comments below!
Hello I am trying to find out if I take 3 of your ASL dictionary classes. Will I receive a completion of certification to show a proof for a job hiring at Arbor Health Solutions to teach ASL to others?
Hello Carmen! Send us a support ticket and we can help you with that. You can request a support ticket here: https://www.startasl.com/contact-us/.
Here is a great review for American Sign Language Dictionary by Martin L.A. Sternberg:
from Roberta Cooke (Pennsylvania): Martin L.A. Sternberg’s, American Sign Language Dictionary is an excellent resource. The revised edition, copyrighted in 1998 and published by Harper Perennial (Harper Collins Publishers, Inc.) states that it contains over 1,500 new illustrations. I recently started studying ASL and have thoroughly enjoyed every minute and I wanted to purchase a dictionary that would contain amble vocabulary that I would not need to use several resources while studying. The book is not one you will carry around with you due to its size; I will use it as a study resource only. I was surprised to find the vocabulary to be quite up-to-date. The illustrations are understandable and clear; it is a must though, that you read the beginning of the text to understand the symbols used in the book. Each word is described with the audio phonetic pronunciation, the grammar of speech the word is used for; a complete description of the hand, finger positions and movements. Often there is a memory tip on how to remember the sign or what it represents (this I find extremely helpful). Last but equally important the explanation includes the other words or forms of the word that the sign also represents. Plus, of course, there are one or more illustrations to show the making of the sign. The only draw back to the book that I have found is that they often give several options for signing the same word and that may be a problem for me only because I am a beginner at signing. I look forward to using the book for years to come.
Here is a great review for Religious Signing by Elaine Costello:
from Rebecca Wenger (Pennsylvania, US): A Religious ASL dictionary? Really? Yep. As the front cover claims, Elaine Costello’s Religious Signing is “the first and only interdenominational guide to Religious Signing”. Look for the most recently revised and updated version, published in 2009. It contains a generous introduction that covers topics which include the influence of the Church in Deaf Education, Ministry to the Deaf People in the United States, Signing in Religious Settings, and more. As you move into the dictionary part of the book, you’ll find large, clear, upper body illustrations that unmistakably perform the given signs. To accompany each illustration, Elaine includes a written description of the formation of the sign, as well as small hints or indications to the sign. This book also contains a chapter of Prayers and Blessings in sign. In total, the amount of signs is very impressive and helpful, making it a valuable resource. And as the front cover states; it is “A Comprehensive Guide for All Faiths”. A very helpful aid for all areas of Religious Signing, whether it be in Sunday school, Church, Ministry, or many other avenues. Elaine Costello does a superb job.