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Hack 9. Consult the Dictionary
Google, in addition to its own spellchecking index, provides hooks into Dictionary.com.
Google's spellchecking [Hack #5] is built on its own word and phrase database, gleaned while indexing web pages. Thus, it provides suggestions for lesser-known proper names, phrases, common sentence constructs, etc. Google also offers a definition service powered by Dictionary.com (http://www.dictionary.com). Such definitions, coming from a credible source and augmented by various specialty indexes, can be more limited.
Run a search. On the results page, you'll notice the phrase "Searched the web for [query words]." If the query words would appear in a dictionary, they will be hyperlinked to a dictionary definition. Identified phrases will be linked as a phrase; for example, the query "jolly roger" will allow you to look up the phrase "jolly roger." On the other hand, the phrase "computer legal" will allow you to look up the separate words "computer" and "legal."
The definition search will sometimes fail on obscure words, very new words, slang, and technical vocabularies (otherwise known as jargon). If you search for a word's meaning and Google can't help you, try enlisting the services of a meta-search dictionary, like OneLook (http://www.onelook.com/), which indexes over six million words from over 1,000 dictionaries. If that doesn't work, try Google again with one of the following tricks, queryword being the word you want to find:
Google's connection with Dictionary.com means that simple definition checking is fast and easy. But even more obscure words can be quickly found if you apply a little creative thinking.
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