Reverse Dictionary – Ever asked yourself “Whats the word for…”

December 15th, 2005



I just happened to stumble on a pretty interesting tool today.

I was trying to find a word for “People that are behind the times” for my previous blog post. I did a couple of searches in Google without avail and eventually started scouring for a tool that did a reverse lookup on a word. A tool where I would give the definition, and it would give me some words that matched that definition. What I discovered was Onelook.com’s Reverse Dictionary.

Reverse Dictionaries allow you to “Describe a concept” in order to find words that match that description.

Cool Stuff, especially for all of us non-harvard graduates.

What I find the most interesting though is all of the uses for this tool. It is actually a very smart search engine. You would be suprized the sort of answers you could get from asking a variety of questions. Here are some of potential applications that OneLook describes:

- Find a word, when you know its definition, [or a portion of the definition].
- Explore related concepts. Baseball, clouds, cities.
- Generate a list of words in some category. I.E. Large Birds, Green fruit, Canadian authors.
- Answer basic indentification questions. What is the capital of Vietnam, Who is big birds friend on Sesame Street. What is the longest River in the world

In actuality Onelook is indexing much more then just dictionaries to find these answers. They index encyclopedia’s and other reference sites as well.

I dont know about you guys, but if I had a very large amount of money, I might consider trying to buy their technology. There are a lot of times I wish the major search engines could do some of the stuff that they are. Ask.com (askjeeves) does some of this, but you cant get lists from Ask, its usually websites that come up that require you to sift through several pages to find your answers.

For all of you content mongers out there, this sort of technology could feed some very interesting sites.

I would love to see some sort of API.

http://www.onelook.com/reverse-dictionary.shtml

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