WordWeb – English dictionary application worth using

Dictionaries of English language are easy to find, but not all are easy to use. Most require working connection and they show ads. WordWeb does not! We will focus on this nifty dictionary, especially on “pro” version of the software, although free version is also available.

Stand-alone app

WordWeb is stand-alone application. You can download it from the official site, install and use without internet connection. It comes with WordNet database created by Princeton University. The database itself is very good, and you will rarely need any other explanations. However, if there is a need, upgrade is available for additional money.

Synonyms, antonyms, types – widening and narrowing meaning

WordWeb Pro is not only a dictionary, but thesaurus as well: very easy to use synonym, antonym finder. Here is the example for word “site”:

Screenshot of WordWeb
WordWeb tabs with different dictionary content

This screenshot illustrates many things. We can see that “site” is pronounced similarly as “cite” and “sight”. Tab type of lists words like “computer”, “position”, “parcel of land”, while tab types contains, amongst others, words “active site”, “camp”, “ground zero”. The first tab lists less specific words, second most specific words, so you can narrow or widen your search. Of course, there is a list of synonyms, in this case “internet site”, “place”, “website” and so on.

IPA transcription not available in default dictionary

There is one thing I feel represents major drawback: there is no IPA transcription. WordWeb with its default database (Princeton) displays nonstandard phonetic transcription (so “site” is /sIt/). I have not used Oxford or Chambers English Dictionary with WordWeb, which are also available as additional purchases, so I don’t know which transcription is used there. However, on brighter side: most of the headwords have pre-recorded pronunciation, in British and American English,  available as separate (free) download.

Language treasure in tabs

In other searches, WordWeb will display different tabs, depending on the search:

Synonyms Words which mean the same in some context
e.g. close is a synonym of shut.
Antonyms Words meaning the opposite in some context
e.g. big is an antonym of little
See Also Mostly related word forms and compounds
e.g. cut gives see also cut off, cutter, etc.
Type of Shows less specific words.
e.g. a comedy is a type of play
Types Shows more specific words.
e.g. flower has daisy as one of its types
Parts Shows words for part of an object
e.g. tree is one of the parts of a forest
Part of Shows words for a collection or the whole
e.g. bumper is a part of a car
Similar Words with meanings that are close
e.g. big is similar to huge

(Taken from WordWeb help file.)

We used WordWeb’s built-in anagram option to create a puzzle: “New meshing ‘twixt cowl”. Can you solve it? Hint: see the address bar!

Windows integration, options

The program integrates nicely with Windows. Just highlight a word and press shortcut keys to pop up the definitions. If the explanation is not enough, you can click on Wikipedia tab, which will show proper page on world’s most used reference site. It is also possible to use full text search, solve anagrams, add own definitions and create word lists (great for learning). You can use it with Microsoft Word and other processors.

Optional dictionaries

If default dictionary does not suite your needs, you can buy additional ones:

Oxford Dictionary of English
Chambers Dictionary of the English Language
Chambers Thesaurus
New Oxford American Dictionary
Australian Oxford English Dictionary
Canadian Oxford English Dictionary

It really is great dictionary, thesaurus – and more

If you are looking for great dictionary / synonym / antonym tool – you should try WordWeb Pro. Indeed, there are many free sites out there, and word definitions are easy to find, but you have to have internet connection and be patient with all those ads. WordWeb Pro works offline, with powerful dictionary tool just a shortcut away.

Free version is available here.

KVocTrain – free vocabulary training the Linux way

Linux software often means free software, and KVocTrain is not an exception. This program is well known to Linux users seeking e-learning tools, and there is a good reason: this is a great vocabulary trainer. This text will not be an extensive tutorial on how to use KVocTrain, but a simple introduction to this useful language learning application.

Update: KvocTrain is no longer maintained. Initially, it was part of KDE Education Software, but it was later replaced by Parley or KWordWiz.

The installation of KVocTrain on Ubutu Linux was very simple: you will find the program in Add/Remove Software, under Education section. After the installation, run the program from Applications > Education. A vocabulary trainer is not useful without a dictionary, and luckily, the program allows download of some pretty useful dictionaries.

KVocTrain allows many dictionary types
KVocTrain supports many dictionary types

In the above example, words for the SAT preparation are installed. This dictionary contains over 5000 entries the program uses to test your knowledge. However, before the testing begins, you must set the number of entries per lesson (Vocabulary > Assign Lessons). There is one more required option which tells the program how many lessons to display in a single session. Go to Settings > Configure KVocTrain > Threshold > Lesson settings.

KVocTrain allows different types of “flash-cards”: multiple choice, synonyms, antonyms, entering definitions, part of speech, etc. However, this is available if it is supported by a dictionary you have downloaded (or created yourself). In our example, I have selected Learning > Word > Create multiple choice > From definition:

Multiple choice questions
Multiple choice questions

Or, you can make questions that require typing in of the answer:

KVocTrain - Random Query
KVocTrain - Random Query

Aside from use as a language learning application, KVocTrain can be used to devise non-language  tests, such as for music or anatomy (there are tests ready for download in the program). With high-quality dictionaries easily available in the program’s options this software is a great tool to improve your language.

Get KVocTrain from Add/Remove Dialogue in your Linux distribution, or visit KVocTrain Homepage.

Useful links:

MSDict Pocket Oxford Italian Dictionary (PC) – reviewed

In this post we review e-dictionary MSDict Pocket Oxford Italian Dictionary by Mobile Systems. We will talk about use, content and technical overview, followed by conclusion. The version of the reviewed software is 3.10.

Use

MSDict Pocket Oxford Italian Dictionary is compact software contained in 11 MB installation file. After the setup, small window will await you, divided into three sections. On the left pane headwords are listed, while right one contains the details. Above are navigation and filtering buttons that list previous or next entry or filter the content. Unfortunately, in order to print the content you will have to use copy/paste and a text editor, since printing is not implemented. Browsing the menus reveals options we have already seen in similar products, like “always on top” or “load on startup”.

Automatic word search when new content is discovered on the clipboard is included and functional – to some extent. This “Automatic Clipboard Translate” is likely to cause the frustration, because of the way it works. Upon copying an Italian word, the software looks it up and marks it in the list, but in order to see the definitions and explanation, you have to click on the headword. We expect that the program automatically lists the definitions. Needless to say that this is poorly done and it will prove to be of little use: one might as well paste the word directly in the software, which makes clipboard monitoring needless, and a whole process waste of time.

Content

MSDict Pocket Oxford Italian Dictionary is an Oxford dictionary. Users seeking, above all, quality reference will be pleased that the acclaimed publisher has yet another software edition. Even more, Mobile Systems offers Oxford dictionaries and reference software for several portable platforms (PalmOS, Pocket PC, Symbian etc.).

All headwords have stress notation within the word itself (for example: dizio’nario). While there is no pronunciation or IPA translation, there is a humble English and Italian pronunciation guide. It is minimal and thus good as a reference only. The explanations and meanings are formatted for legibility: part of speech is marked with bigger font and different color, Italian headwords and phrases are in bold, while abbreviations and notes are in gray italic.

The content covers “over 80,000 words and phrases, and over 100,000 translations” (quotation from the publisher’s site) which is great for this dictionary class, with the observation that more examples of usage would be welcome.

Technical overview

Surprisingly, technical realization of this dictionary is not very good. For a simple software like this, installation and settings should be flawless. Unfortunately, we have encountered issues on Windows XP SP2, where installation procedure fails to set up the program correctly for the users. During our testing, only the administrator could start the MSDict and load the Italian dictionary. We were also disappointed to see that the program does not offer basic learning aids, like bookmarks, wordlist or simple flashcards tool.

Good side of the thing is that MSDict is lightweight program that will not infest your computer with unwanted software.

Conclusion

Is this dictionary worth the money? It depends. If you are a beginner or an intermediate level learner of Italian language this type of dictionary is for you, but will you like the product? No doubt, Oxford stands as an authoritative reference, but is that enough for the software? We think that in terms of use and technical quality users deserve better products. The glitch with clipboard makes automatic search unusable, which slows down the work. This would be the biggest flaw of the MSDict Pocket Oxford Italian Dictionary. We could also mention the inability of the program to look up correctly a word copied with surrounding space characters.

If you need good low-weight Italian e-dictionary by an established publisher because you are unable to use the Internet language resources, and in the same time you find looking up in printed editions too time consuming – buy this product. Our opinion is that you will be satisfied, especially if you do not deal with Italian language frequently.

Other uses might wish to try other products, especially until all bugs are resolved in this program and more functionality is added. If you consider the price and compare it with the program’s doubtful usability, you could try the original Oxford Pocket Dictionary which has richer extra content. We hope that Mobile Systems will continue to deliver good software, both for mobile devices and, of course, personal computers.

Links

MSDict Pocket Oxford Italian Dictionary homepage (opens in new page).

Sceenshot of the main window
Sceenshot of the main window