Translation dictionary viewer
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StarDict Terminal UI

sdtui aims to provide an easy way of viewing translation as well as other kinds of dictionaries in your terminal. I wasnt successful in finding any free dictionary software of this kind, GUI or not, and thus decided to write my own.

The project is covered by a permissive license, unlike vast majority of other similar projects, and can serve as a base for implementing other dictionary software. I wasnt able to reuse anything for StarDict.

Further Development

While Ive been successfully using sdtui for a long time now, some work has to be done yet before the software can be considered fit for inclusion in regular Linux and/or BSD distributions. Help is much appreciated.

An approximate list of things that need to be resolved:

  • rewrite the frontend using a proper TUI framework

  • possibly make it work better with multiple dictionaries as now its only acceptable if you give them short names in the configuration so that they all fit in the header

  • figure out a way to become capable of displaying most dictionaries


Regular releases are sporadic. git master should be stable enough. You can get a package with the latest development version from Archlinuxs AUR.

Building and Running

Build dependencies: CMake, pkg-config, xsltproc, docbook-xsl
Runtime dependencies: ncursesw, zlib, ICU, termo (included), glib-2.0, pango, xcb and xcb-xfixes (optional)

$ git clone --recursive
$ mkdir sdtui/build
$ cd sdtui/build
$ make

To install the application, you can do either the usual:

# make install

Or you can try telling CMake to make a package for you. For Debian it is:

$ cpack -G DEB
# dpkg -i sdtui-*.deb

Note that for versions of CMake before 2.8.9, you need to prefix cpack with fakeroot or file ownership will end up wrong.

Having the program installed, simply run it with a StarDict .ifo file as an argument. It is however highly recommended to configure it, see below.


As the original StarDict is a bit of a clusterfuck with regard to collation of dictionary entries, I had to introduce an additional collation field into the .ifo file. When sdtui discovers this field while reading the dictionary, it automatically reorders the index according to that locale (e.g. "cs_CZ"). This operation may take a little while, in the order of seconds.


To get a nicer look in 256color terminals, create ~/.config/sdtui/sdtui.conf with the following. Note that it is intended for black-on-white terminals.

center-search = true
underline-last = false
hl-common-prefix = true
watch-selection = true

header = reverse
header-active = ul
search = ul
even = 16 231
odd = 16 255

The watch-selection option makes the application watch the X11 primary selection for changes and automatically search for selected text. This feature requires XCB and it will never work on Wayland by its design.

You can also set up some dictionaries to be loaded at startup automatically:

name1 = ~/path/to/dict.ifo
name2 = ~/another/dict.ifo


Unfortunately this application only really works with specific dictionaries. Word definitions have to be in plain text, separated by newlines.

Contributing and Support

Use to report any bugs, request features, or submit pull requests. git send-email is tolerated. If you want to discuss the project, feel free to join me at ircs://, channel #dev.

Bitcoin donations are accepted at: 12r5uEWEgcHC46xd64tt3hHt9EUvYYDHe9


This software is released under the terms of the 0BSD license, the text of which is included within the package along with the list of authors.