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February 18, 2008

Google's Glossary Search Engine

It may not have a separate address or stand-alone identity, but Google's glossary search engine is a simple way to look up a word or a group of words in many of the glossaries available online. There are many definitions for "glossary", but one of the best is: "an alphabetical list of words or expressions and the special or technical meanings that they have in a particular book, subject, or activity." (source)

It's difficult to create a comprehensive dictionary with all the words from a language and all of their meanings, so specialized glossaries explain the terminology from a domain (for example: philosophy). There are many glossaries available online, but it's not easy to find all of them using a general-purpose search engine.

Launched in 2002 as a labs project, Google's glossary search engine restricts the index to glossaries and other resources like Wikipedia or WordNet, while allowing you to find all the definitions of a word or expression. To use it, add the define: operator in front of your query: for example, type define:isometry in Google's search box.


The search engine works for 9 languages: English, French, Italian, German, Spanish, Portuguese, Dutch, Chinese, Russian. You can change the language at the bottom of the page.

So when should you use the define operator? If you search for:
* obscure words
* specialized terminology
* acronyms and abbreviations

An interesting alternative is OneLook, which supports pattern matching and reverse queries, but it only shows links to the definitions.

7 comments:

  1. lol dont know what to write here? better write nottin than 2 year old stuff lol

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  2. Another solution could be a Google CSE I'm working on the next release (should be online 1st March).

    Jean-Marie

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  3. I have a particular observation over this. about 90% of times, wikipedia definition will be the last

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  4. That was funny XD
    Semantics: poop butt face.

    I searched for "semantics" in Spanish, and found that Google cached a wrecked revision of the article from Wikipedia.

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  5. The define operator in google search is a case sensitive one.

    while using that operator it always need to be completely in lower case.

    If you use anything different it will operate as a normal query only...

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  6. I hope that Google's glossary search engine bring some new functions.i mostly use Google for search and get relevant answers.i think that Google's glossary search engine best thing is that is work in 9 languages,that's really great.

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