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Google Launches Dictionary, Drops 180

ObsessiveMathsFreak writes "Google has expanded its remit once again with the quiet launch of Google Dictionary. Google word search definitions now redirect to Google Dictionary instead of to Google's long term thesaurus goto site,, which is expected to take a serious hit in traffic as a result. Dictionary pages are noticeably more plain and faster loading than their equivalents, and unusually feature web citations for the definitions of each word. This means that, unlike most dictionaries, Google considers ginormous a word."
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Google Launches Dictionary, Drops

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  • by sopssa ( 1498795 ) * <> on Saturday December 05, 2009 @07:33PM (#30339400) Journal

    I wonder why I haven't actually seen the snippets of definitions lately. I remember seeing them a few years ago. Not that it would had actually changed a lot - there's always lots of different sites linking to dictionaries on the first page of results.

    Urban Dictionary has actually been the most useful one of those.

    User ratings, definitions of almost all the weird (and stupid) words teens come up with and usually fun descriptions too.

    Now get off my lawn.

    • by macshit ( 157376 ) <snogglethorpe@gm ... com minus author> on Saturday December 05, 2009 @08:12PM (#30339656) Homepage
      Urban Dictionary is a funny case, because while it's often very useful, there's so much crap there that it takes a lot of wading and a certain amount of judgment to find the info you're looking for. Given the extent to which a lot of the crap (and info) is pretty er, profane, I'm not sure it's the best target for automatic usage by people that don't know what they're getting into...
      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        I've always felt Urban Dictionary needs some sort of moderation. You can't trust one person to know every single bit of slang but there is some much rubbish on UD that, imo, it can be more or less useless sometimes.
      • by Darkness404 ( 1287218 ) on Saturday December 05, 2009 @08:29PM (#30339774)
        It depends though, Urban Dictionary you can usually figure out what a word that someone says really means. Using traditional dictionaries you would think that someone says that someone sucks on a rooster...
        • It depends though, Urban Dictionary you can usually figure out what a word that someone says really means. Using traditional dictionaries you would think that someone says that someone sucks on a rooster...

          It doesn't do much for international relationships either when looking for appropriate words to use. If Colins or websters had their way we'd all be virgins.

          (longmans is one of the few that might have a few useful words). On the other hand if you don't learn from a native speaker then you are unlikely to need them anyway.

        • The traditional dictionaries you use are poor if the do not cover common and well established slang like that. The OED does, even in the free web version: []

          Urban dictionary is useful for slang, but you are somewhat exaggerating things.

    • by mysidia ( 191772 ) on Saturday December 05, 2009 @09:01PM (#30339992)

      The problem with Urban Dictionary is it's filled with crappy non-objective/crackpot definitions: opinions about words, not accurate well-written definitions, and contains definitions that reinforce many common misconceptions,

      Example #1: Sugar High []

      The intense physiological effect of consuming too much sugar or glucose, usually in the form of cakes, cookies and soda; eating excessive amounts of sugar makes the brain release dopamine and endorphins, often inducing a mild sense of euphoria and happiness.

      Example #2: Boogeyman [] The scary monster man that gets little kids at night, usually found under the bed or in a dark closet.. Little eric got eaten by the boogeyman when he didn't say his prayer last night.

      Example #3: Linux []

      An overblown "Wal-Mart" OS written by programmers who lack the balls and social skills to walk their own dog. "The calculator froze up again. Oh, that runs on a Linux kernel. "

      Example #4: Windows [] A piece of glass you can open when it gets too hot outside. Come on people

      Person 2: " You think you made a mistake? I BOUGHT WINDOWS!"

      The fanciest version of Solitaire I've ever played.

      • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

        by gmrath ( 751453 )
        What every you do, check the link for #3. Absolutely hilarious . . . and nothing like the his example, although that's pretty funny, too.
    • You missed the best part of the story summary; the link goes to the definition of the word "divorce". I lolled, is that in the dictionary?
  • Good (Score:5, Insightful)

    by rmushkatblat ( 1690080 ) on Saturday December 05, 2009 @07:39PM (#30339444)
    Now we don't have to deal with M-W terrible website layout, popups, etc.
  • But... (Score:5, Interesting)

    by muncadunc ( 1679192 ) on Saturday December 05, 2009 @07:46PM (#30339496)
    Ginormous IS a word. It's just a relatively new word.
  • by lammy ( 1557325 ) on Saturday December 05, 2009 @07:48PM (#30339512)
    If it's in the Oxford, then it's a bloody word! [] ... And that's the Compact dictionary - so it's definitely in the ginormous one!
    • by HawkinsD ( 267367 ) on Saturday December 05, 2009 @08:12PM (#30339660)

      That's really interesting, thanks. The main dictionary ( is $295/year. I didn't know they had a concise one for free.

      And it really is concise. One (really good) definition. Not 37 links, like the Google dictionary.

      Not that there's anything wrong with 37 links. But sometimes I just want to want to know the definition of the word.

      • by xaxa ( 988988 )

        $295 is a bargain. It's £750 [] if you buy it (all 20 volumes) in print! Or £4000 for the leather-bound one.

        Sample page (PDF) []. It's really not concise, but then it's not supposed to be.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by nine-times ( 778537 )

      I've people use it in speech and writing and others generally know what it means, then it's a word. I think even the people who work on the OED have said that dictionaries are descriptive, no prescriptive. The intention is to maintain a catalog of words that are commonly accepted and in use, not to tell you which words are acceptable. Oxford is not the Academie Francaise.

      All words are made-up words. There are words that I don't like and words that I think are stupid, and plenty of new words that I hope

  • Google "Dictionary" is nothing more than a simple aggregation. They take the definitions from other free dictionaries.

    So why not just include Answers.Com in the Google Dictionary results?

  • by Eudial ( 590661 ) on Saturday December 05, 2009 @07:50PM (#30339536)

    Doesn't look like it's fully deployed yet. Google searches of the form "define:word" are not redirected to google dictionary yet. Which is a shame. Because that's one hell of an useful way of looking up terms.

  • why? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by fermion ( 181285 ) on Saturday December 05, 2009 @08:02PM (#30339604) Homepage Journal
    This is one of those changes that makes me lose confidence in Google. It seems that Google wants to control all the resources instead of being part of an internet. As if it is playing the zero sum game of war rather than the non-zero sum game that allows businesses to exist and grow together.

    By doing this, Google may have wrested control over third parties, but has significantly degraded the user experience. Prior to this, each word would have a hyperlink to a definition. Now it appears that one has a link to "definition" for one word. Furthermore, in my sampling the definitions are very basic and not of competitive quality. For instance, the word cricket has for the first definition the sport, the second a slang use, and then finally a first grade definition as an insect. No etymology. No context.

    I can only imagine they are doing this to in some way differentiate themselves from Bing, which could also use freeonlinedictionary or the like. Unfortunately for Google, MS has encata, which tends to not have slightly more sophisticated definitions.

    • Re:why? (Score:4, Interesting)

      by buchner.johannes ( 1139593 ) on Saturday December 05, 2009 @08:22PM (#30339730) Homepage Journal

      With webmail combining mail into the web, the web became the Internet.
      With increasing importance of online/cloud/Live applications and ChromeOS combining applications into the web, the OS becomes just the medium of accessing the Internet.
      With Google being the starting point for many people to do their Internet stuff, and Google incorporating more and more steps of that clickpath -- you don't have to leave google for shopping, mail, document editing, site-specific searches, weather information, stock information, ... --, other websites are left without clicks.

      Is Google trying to become the Web? Google is leveraging their, not monopoly, but well-established position.

      NB: The message above might reflect my opinion right now, but not necessarily tomorrow or next year.

      • With increasing importance of online/cloud/Live applications and ChromeOS combining applications into the web -> To who? I wouldn't place any faith in Google to secure the kind of information that I would normally use my OS plus applications for, especially not for the ephemeral price of "data trends to help target advertisements". Also cloud computing isn't uploading your information to third party servers, its uploading it to your own servers in a manner that looks seamless to users, although its still
    • I prefer to go to Google's dictionary because it loads much faster than the others. I just want a definition and if I want it expanded upon, thankfully Google provides links to external sites.

      It's by no means perfect but it's probably not complete and with the inclusion of, at the very least, a wikipedia link, I can get a full and detailed definition if required.

      Imo, most dictionary sites are ugly and too graphic intensive for a site where people are only interested in words.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by BeanThere ( 28381 )

      It makes sense that Google wants to do this, and Google generally do good stuff ... but I'm really slowly just starting to feel a bit like, 'OK Google, enough, you don't have to be part of *everything* I try do in life'. Am not saying they've done anything wrong; maybe there really is just a tendency for people to not like one company to get too big.

  • Why don't they add the results to "define: word" search in Google?

  • I speak 4 languages other than English: German, Japanese, Spanish, French and Sign language (ASL) as well. I tested it's translations in all the different languages and it performed fine by my standard except for ASL for obvious reason's.

    I liked it.

    • Perhaps I'm blind, but I didn't see Japanese in the list.

      It's rather odd, as Japanese is supported by Google Translate (and happens to be the fourth most popular language on the Internet).

      • Japanese worked fine for me. I was just translating words on the fly in different to see if they came up correctly in English.

      • Japanese isn't on the list for me either. Even when I use a proxy so I dunno what's up.
    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      I tested it's translations in all the different languages and it performed fine by my standard except for ASL for obvious reason's.

      Based on this sample of English, presumably your native language, I'm going to have to take your opinions on accurate translations with a grain of salt. Actually, make that a crystal of halite. Several kilogram sample.

    • by Itninja ( 937614 )
      Meh. I am a native English speaker but am also learning Arabic. All they have for Arabic is an English/Arabic translator. Maybe one day they will have an actual Arabic dictionary.
    • by NorQue ( 1000887 )

      [...] Sign language (ASL) [...]

      So, that's Sign language? I think I speak that, too: 24/f/Burkina Faso.

  • by Khashishi ( 775369 ) on Saturday December 05, 2009 @08:13PM (#30339670) Journal

    is there something I'm missing?

  • Yeah, so, after looking it up, I still don't know how to say "ginormous". (Not that I plan on using it any time soon anyway.) Their pronunciation guide could stand to also include the guide I've seen in dictionaries for decades, rather than an unnecessary international guide when I'm looking up an English word.

  • I hope the dictionary works on a sort of democratic principle, where words are defined by their actual usage.

    Dictionary editors understand this, but they just don't update enough to make it work. M-W doesn't have the Simpsons' cromulent [], but it has Shakespeare's puke [] and Dr. Suess's nerd []. It'd be nice to have a dictionary that evolves as quickly as language.

  • huh? (Score:5, Informative)

    by bcrowell ( 177657 ) on Saturday December 05, 2009 @08:25PM (#30339754) Homepage

    Am I the only one to have the following three reactions?

    1. I remember solely as one of those annoying sites that mirror's Wikipedia's content, polluting search results with fifty copies of the same WP article. It astonishes me to find out that Google has ever been associated with one of these things; they all strike me as sleazy attempts to sop up some ad revenue without actually making any positive contribution of their own. I would have expected Google to try to filter out such things, not to be associated with them.
    2. Huh? What is a "Google word search definition?" Okay, click through to the LA times blog, which say, "Previously, the 'definition' button at the top right of all Google searches for words would direct users to entries on the Wikipedia-like site. Now those links go to Google Dictionary, a less colorful, less cluttered interface." Double huh? Never noticed such a thing before. I did two Google searches on dictionary words just now, and neither one came up with a "'definition' button at the top right." I've never noticed one in the past, and I'm not seeing one now.
    3. Aparently the OP doesn't know what a thesaurus is.
    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      by maxume ( 22995 ) provides information from lots of other sources too. If you don't believe it, just go take a look...

    • I've been using the 'definition' link *very* regularly for many years ... it's been my primary dictionary - Firefox, Ctrl+K, enter word, and click 'definition'.

    • For a very long time if you typed in "define:term" in any search request you'd get results that look pretty similar to what you now get in dictionary for their web terms. But no, I've never noticed a link or button anywhere either.
  • by Jay L ( 74152 ) * <jay+slash AT jay DOT fm> on Saturday December 05, 2009 @09:02PM (#30340000) Homepage

    "We're a monopoly, you say? Sir, the word 'monopoly' is not even in my dictionary." fact, everything from 'marzipan' to 'morass' seems to be missing.

  • by Tim C ( 15259 ) on Saturday December 05, 2009 @09:10PM (#30340052)

    I'm 35 and was using the word "ginormous" as a kid. Sure enough, it's in the Cambridge Advanced Learner's Dictionary [].

  • (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Lord Satri ( 609291 ) <alexandreleroux@ ... m minus caffeine> on Saturday December 05, 2009 @09:17PM (#30340090) Homepage Journal

    It seems no one yet mentioned []. Over 1 536 000 + in French, a similar number in English. While there's obvious room for improvement, it's generally usable and often useful.

    So here's my question, why does Google dives into a new initiative instead of jumping on existing trains? I guess the answers has something to do with control. Google wants to keep the control (which is understandable and not necessarily a bad thing). This Wiktionary-Google Dictionary is not the only example, Google Map Maker [] and [] is another one (both crowdsourcing map data, and yes, OSM was there much before).

  • Maybe they rolled it out quietly because, as dictionaries go, this one sucks. It's the only one I've ever seen that defines every word by using that word in a sentence. E.g. for the word "hold", we find:

    If one thing is used to hold another, it is used to store it.

    That's fine for a spelling bee, but in a dictionary, I prefer the more conventional (and more succinct) definition:

    to contain or be capable of containing

  • by HockeyPuck ( 141947 ) on Saturday December 05, 2009 @11:24PM (#30340802)

    Did they come up with their own definitions for all these words? Did they "scrape" someone else's dictionary? Or pay someone for their content?

    • RTFA, Google is doing just what used to do. They just aggregate other free dictionaries.
  • Where will i find out what EVOO is?

  • Unless I'm missing something, there seems to be extremely little difference between this new service and what Google has displayed when you use define:whatever as a search query for as long back as I can remember.
  • It looks great, but I think I'll stick with

    The great thing about Wordreference is not only does it give a definition and shows the word in several sentences in context (especially so in the English to Spanish and Spanish to English dictionaries) is that it has language forums, and posts about words and phrases are also linked from the dictionary lookup.

    One thing I'd like from a search engine or dictionary is the ability to look up grammar examples. For example, if I want to see if a certa

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