OneLook Reverse Dictionary

Describe concept here:   

BETA VERSION (1.1)

How do I use OneLook's reverse dictionary feature?

OneLook's reverse dictionary lets you describe a concept and get back a list of words and phrases related to that concept. Your description can be a few words, a sentence, a question, or even just a single word. Just type it into the box above and hit the "Find words" button. Keep it short to get the best results. In most cases you'll get back a list of related terms with the best matches shown first.

Why would I want to do this?

Here are some possible applications, with examples:

Task
Example searches
· Find a word if you know its definition barrel maker, museum guide,
search for food, urge to travel,
being tried twice for the same crime,
when cancer spreads through the body,
· Explore related concepts baseball, clouds, twisty, push
· Generate a list of words in some category large birds, green fruit, Canadian authors
· Answer basic identification questions What is the capital of Vietnam?
Who is Big Bird's friend on Sesame Street?
What is the longest river in the world?
· Solve crossword puzzle clues, or find words if you only know some of the letters
  (Use pattern:clue syntax)
??lon:synthetic fabric, s?nt?:christmas, l*ch*:fruit, ??????:hit, c*:board game

How does it work?

OneLook indexes hundreds of online dictionaries, encyclopedias, and other reference sites. By now you may have used the standard search available from the home page, which shows you a list of definition links for any word you type in. This is the reverse: Here we search our references for words that have definitions conceptually similar to the words you search for. We do this using a motley assortment of statistical language processing hacks.

Yikes. Why are so many of my search results complete nonsense?

For some types of searches only the first result or the first few results are likely to be useful. We urge you to click on a word to check its definition before using it in your Oscars acceptance speech or honors thesis.

If you get back nothing but junk, try restating your query so that it's just two or three simple words. Some queries are very difficult for our system. That's because not every dictionary indexed by OneLook is used by the reverse dictionary, and our search algorithm still needs a lot of work. We're continually adding more references and improving the precision of the system.

Can I use this service from anywhere on OneLook?

Sure! Just type a colon (:) into the search box, followed by your concept. If you put a wildcard pattern before the colon, your results will be filtered by that pattern. (This is particularly useful for crossword puzzle help, as shown in the examples above.)

Can I add this to my browser's search bar?

Certainly! Just follow these instructions.

How can I send you my statements that express my opinion comments?

You can send feedback here.

Doug Beeferman, 2003-10-16