About Webonary

Dictionary & Lexicography Services

In 2012, International Language Program Services of SIL International decided to make publishing dictionaries online as part of its overall strategy for developing dictionaries. In order to provide this service to language programs around the world, the Dictionary & Lexicography Services unit was launched with Verna Stutzman as Coordinator.

In 2011, in a collaborative effort, The Cherokee Nation Foundation partnered with SIL International to develop the Cherokee Electronic Dictionary, which the Cherokee said is “critical to the continuing revitalization of the Cherokee language.” This became the pilot project for Webonary, and it proved to be a success.

In 2013, Dictionary & Lexicography Services took over the development of Webonary, and Webonary became the platform to accomplish SIL’s goal of encouraging language programs to publish dictionaries online.

Features and Distinctions

The Webonary platform gives language groups the ability to publish bilingual or multilingual dictionaries on the web with a minimum of technical help.


“The Webonary dictionary is, in my view, a substantially more usable lexical resource than what was previously available. In particular, the searchability and the audio files have made it much easier for Triquis to use the dictionary and find the words that they want.”
– George Aaron Broadwell, Dept. of Anthropology, UAlbany, Albany NY 12222

“I am very thankful for Webonary. I have used it for making beginning dictionaries available to language communities, as well as to the academic community which often searches for data in little described languages, such as the ones I work with. Because Webonary is easy to use, I can upload dictionaries soon after being drafted, with minimal effort. I can also make grammar books and phonology/orthography statements available through the same website on the ‘language’ tab.”
– Tim Stirtz, South Sudan Group

“With Webonary you can upload any modifications so that the online version can always be up-to-date and so everyone is up-to-date. Printed dictionaries are heavy and costly and it can often be difficult to find the word, whereas electronic dictionaries are so much easier to search.”
– Jenni Beadle, Togo-Benin branch

“We feel that providing lexicon/dictionary data on-line [using Webonary] will inspire people to see the legitimacy of a written form of their language and to take an interest in its development.”
– John Berthelette, Directeur des Programmes de Langue, SIL Togo-Bénin