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How often do you need to look up word definitions? Or the quick history of an event? Or the word synonyms?

We are unable to store all the information we process daily in our minds. Or even if we can actually store it, it is impossible to retrieve it quickly. Therefore quick (online) reference sources are such frequent destinations for people of all professions and areas of expertise.

This post looks at three ways to quicker access some popular online reference sources in Firefox:

1. LookItUp

LookItUp is a feature-rich Greasemonkey script 20 must-see Greasemonkey Addons(No Technical Knowledge Req.) 20 must-see Greasemonkey Addons(No Technical Knowledge Req.) Read More that allows you to access multiple reference sources with one click of a mouse:

  1. Just install the script.
  2. Select any term on the page;
  3. Use any of the default keys to look the word up in one of the reference sources.

Here are a few most useful shortcuts available:

  • w – look it up in Wikipedia.
  • d – look it up in Google definitions.
  • u – look it up in Urban dictionary.
  • m – look it up in Merriam-Webster dictionary.
  • i – look it up in Google images.

Look it up

Naturally, you can add any reference sources or change the shortcuts from the script option accessed by going to : Tools -> Greasemonkey -> User Script Commands -> LookItUp settings:

There you can:

Look it up

  1. Add a new source by clicking the “New site” button (or add pre-defined sources from the right panel);
  2. Move the sources up and down;
  3. Change keys;
  4. Change the width of the reference sidebar panel

Similar FireFox addon: Wikilook is a Wikipedia and Wiktionary look-up tool that defines words for you without the need to open new tabs or windows.

2. Google Search Sidebar

This Greasemonkey script shows Wikipedia search results each time you search for something on Google. Wikipedia entries are displayed in the right-hand panel.

Reference tools

There are other FireFox addons that do pretty much the same:

  • Googlepedia: shows you a relevant Wikipedia article along with your search results;
  • WebMynd: each time you search, this tool shows related results from other sites including Wikipedia, Flickr, Gmail, Facebook, etc.

3. Inline Google Definitions

Google definitions aggregate information from multiple reference sources and glossaries, therefore it is so useful to have them to hand. Luckily there’s a FireFox addon that integrates Google definitions in Firefox and does it without adding any clutter.

Inline Google Definitions: with it, you can access Google definitions via the right-click context menu. Just select any term, right-click and select “Inline Definitions“, a tiny window appears listing all the definitions (I wish there was an option to open links to the definition sources in a new tab):

Inline definitions

A similar addon: Define FireFox addon allows you to search the definition of the highlighted text at Google (but opens the search results in the new tab).

Do you use any hacks to quickly access your favorite reference sources? Please share them with us!

Image Credits: storyvillegirl

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