SerbDict - Serbian-English Dictionary

I've highlighted a few language programs in this column, but so far they've been for Japanese, Chinese and German—all languages spoken by large populations. So a dictionary program for a language like Serbian jumped right out at me. According to the SourceForge page: "Serbian Dictionary is a bidirectional Serbian-English dictionary. It currently contains only a command-line interface. It supports only *nix-based operating systems at this moment. Tested on Linux, *BSD and Cygwin."

SerbDict lets you translate words from English to Serbian and vice versa.

Here's a search involving Serbian to English and a search involving both languages simultaneously.


I found only a source tarball at the Web site at the time of this writing, although the installation still is quite easy. Also, the home page is in Serbian, and I had to use a translator (Chrome's translator handled this well). The download page at least is called "Download", so that was easy. The download page takes you to a basic SourceForge file list, which should be localized into your own language.

Grab the latest tarball, extract it, and open a terminal in the new folder. Compiling this program is easy, just enter:

$ make

If your distro uses sudo, enter:

$ sudo make install

And, if your distro uses root, enter:

$ su # make install


Using SerbDict also is very easy (at least, once I'd translated the documentation). If you want to translate something from English into Serbian, enter:

$ serbdict -e word

If you want to translate a Serbian word into English, enter:

$ serbdict -s word

SerbDict appears to query a database of words and terms, and it outputs everything, including extensions of your queried word. For instance, querying the word "entire" gave me not only translations for entire, but also for entirely and entirety.

If you speak Serbian (and I don't), there's a man page with instructions on how to extend the program, available with the command:

$ man serbdict

One thing I managed to pick up from the man page is that if you skip the -s and -e extensions, any query you make will output any matches in both English and Serbian at the same time.

Below your outputted text will be a message saying, "Ukupno: x prevoda". After querying those words, it turns out Ukupno means altogether. And although "prevoda" didn't return any matches, prevod means rendering, translation or version, so I'm guessing prevoda would be some kind of plural form of these words.

Well, that covers Serbian, but if anyone has written a program for a really rare or dying language, send me an e-mail. I'd love to cover it.

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John Knight is the New Projects columnist for Linux Journal.


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if anyone has written a

Anonymous's picture

if anyone has written a program for a really rare or dying language, send me an e-mail. I'd love to cover it.

John, go play your drums instead of writing articles.

btw some translations in your examples are really strange. For example
"computer conferencing" is not "konfencij. veza racunara"
I guess the DB needs some fixing.

"konfencij. veza racunara"

John Knight's picture

Hehe, just got in an hour and a half on the drums (lots of double-kick)! ;)

I imagine the database probably does have inaccuracies, but I don't speak Serbian. I'm not sure how that sentence appeared to you, but I don't consider Serbian to be rare if that's what you mean (25 million is by no means rare), just overlooked/under-appreciated.

John Knight is the New Projects columnist for Linux Journal.

Er... In fact Serbian is

vlaxus's picture

Er... In fact Serbian is language spoken by about 25 milion of people (Serbian, Croation, Bosnian, Montenegrin etc). It is for exemple twice more than population speaking Norwegian, Swedish and Danish together, or quarter of the people who speak German.

Yes, but no one ever thinks

John Knight's picture

Yes, but no one ever thinks to include Serbian in language packs. ;) They should.

John Knight is the New Projects columnist for Linux Journal.

Btw, I'm not serbian, I'm

vlaxus's picture

Btw, I'm not serbian, I'm french. I realy understood you say serbian is dying, or that it is insignificant compared to German or Japanese. I have some friends in Serbia because once I spent five mounts in Belgrade when I was a student. I like the language, melodic and interesting. Girls are beautiful, mostly blue eyed and blond, slavic type people and incredible fact is that it's the tallest people on Earth (realy must see to belive).

thank you!

Viktor's picture

This kind of software was missing for a long time in the *nix world. thanks a ton for letting us know.


Bojan Sukalo's picture

I like the article. And to know that there are Serbs translating english from cli... I like to come upon strange things, really. Also, best regards to the developers...

You got it :)

Petrovaradinac's picture

"Prevoda" is a one form of plural for "prevod" which means translation. Serbian grammar is little complicated. :)

OK I'm serb and I have few

Darko Demic's picture

OK I'm serb and I have few things to say, first thx for article, second "Ukupno: x prevoda" means "Total: x(number) of Translations." :)