Apple How To Mobile

iOS 10 Define not working? Here’s how to look up word definitions

Are you having trouble using the “Define” feature in iOS 10? It is because it is just not there in the first place. You need to use “Look Up” instead and download a dictionary first to boot!

When I upgraded to the iOS 10 a couple days ago, one of the first problems I came across was with defining words.

Yes. I read a lot on my iPhone, and part of reading is coming across new words and learning their meanings. On iOS 9 and earlier, you just needed to highlight a word, and tap on “Define” to see its definition.


“Define” is no longer available in iOS 10. Instead, the new “Look Up” feature takes its place. It has everything you liked about Define, but now includes smart suggestions from Bing, as well as results from various iTunes Stores, nearby locations, and more.

This sounds great, but “Look Up” just wasn’t working for me at all on iOS 10. I would look up a word, and be shown an empty translucent interface. There was no indication that iOS was looking for something either.

What gives?

Well, if you faced the issue like I did, you’ll need to set up dictionaries first.

Also read: Announce incoming calls on iOS 10 with Siri

How to download dictionaries in iOS 10


It is rather simple. You need to launch the iPhone or iPad Settings app, and go to General > Dictionary. From here, you will need to download a dictionary which iOS will then use to find word definitions for you.

The other smarter suggestions in “Look Up” appear to work only in more mainstream countries like the US, Canada, and Europe. Here in Pakistan, I have never received any smart suggestions. I discovered that this was an actual feature when I visited Dubai a few weeks ago. It’s surprisingly useful, and I kinda envy you all with your fancy Look Up features. It would be nice to know more about a term than just its definition in an old dictionary.


That’s it! Once the dictionary of your choice has downloaded, you can now highlight any word by tapping and holding on it, and then tapping on “Look Up” (previously “Define”) to find its definition along with suggestions from the rest of the Internet.

Let me know if this solved the issue for you. I have a feeling most people did not even see this problem because they upgraded to iOS 10 directly from their iPhone whereas I upgraded using iTunes.

  • Nathan G

    wow this was incredibly helpful. Thank you

  • Daemon Mori’khai

    Same here. Hate this garbage. Typical Apple… take something that works fine and make it way too complicated. GRRRR