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.
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”:
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.
If default dictionary does not suite your needs, you can buy additional ones:
Oxford Dictionary of English
Chambers Dictionary of the English Language
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.