Cool Dictionary Tools

Sandi Adams, Web 2.0 maven for the CCSD, has turned us on to two cool new dictionary tools this week! 


The first cool tool is Definr, or “The Incredibly Fast Dictionary.”  What is Definr?   The official answer: is a fast, free dictionary based on Princeton’s open WordNet 2.0. The website framework is Ruby on Rails. Looking up words in a dictionary is easy, so we do that with MySQL and cache the top 10,000 definitions in memory.  Doing word completion (a.k.a. auto-complete, auto-suggest, globbing) is not easy, at least not when you have to search through 200,000 words for every keystroke. So our word completion is done in a C module for Ruby, and the word completion server is separate from the rest of the site.

With the DefinrBot algorithm, we can do 190,000 word completions per second without caching, and that translates to about 10,000 completions per second once the Ruby layer is factored in.

Regular person answer:  you get definitions super fast!  The part of speech and synonyms are also included with the definition.  If you are browsing the web with Firefox, you can also add a Definr extension tool to your toolbar.


Cool Tool 2:  Merriam Webster has now added the Visual Dictionary Online.  MW says:

The Visual Dictionary is designed to help you find the right word at a glance. Filled with stunning illustrations labeled with accurate terminology in up to six languages, it is the ideal language-learning and vocabulary dictionary for use at school, at home or at work.


When you know what something looks like but not what it’s called, or when you know the word but can’t picture the object, The Visual Dictionary has the answer. In a quick look, you can match the word to the image.  The Visual Dictionary is more than a reliable resource of meticulously labeled images—it innovates by combining dictionary-scale definitions with exceptional illustrations, making it the most complete dictionary.

This new visual dictionary can help you better conceptualize unfamiliar terms and improve your retention of the word. 

Use these tools to help you with those weekly vocabulary and writing assignments!  Definr and MW Visual Dictionary:  not your grandma’s dictionaries! 

Categories: Words | Tags: , , | 1 Comment

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One thought on “Cool Dictionary Tools

  1. Sandi A

    I love being a Maven!

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