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thumbnail5Just a couple of posts back, I had taken a look at the OneLook Reverse dictionary. And here I am, back again with Wordnik. Yes, Wordnik too, is a dictionary, though I have a feeling the web service would hate to be called that in an ironclad sense.

Wordnik deliberately tries to walk away from a traditional definition of a dictionary; instead it attempts to integrate many other sources which can better illustrate a word for us.

In their own words – Wordnik wants to be a place for all the words, and everything known about them.

Wordnik’s similarity with other online dictionaries and thesauruses is that it also gives a definition of a word. But beyond the obvious, the extra value is that it’s a unique online dictionary with sentences offered as examples, it returns word usage in Twitter posts, Flickr images, statistics (a sign of rarity or popularity), how often it has been checked out in Wordnik, audio pronunciations etc. The site has also mined about 4 billion words of text from multiple sources like web pages, books, magazines and newspapers to not only give the user the meaning but also the context around a word.


Wordnik (beta) has started off the blocks with 1.7 million words. Signup, though not necessary, is free and quick and does not even require email verification. Signup is only essential if you want to give your two bits worth by suggesting words, pronunciations or simply suggesting an idea.

Using a service like Wordnik should be as easy as entering a word in the text field and clicking “˜find a word’. It actually is, but the layers within the site merit a mention.


Find a word”¦


Enter a word in the box and click on “˜Find a word’. The Summary page is where you get to know all about the word at a glance –

  • Definitions from online dictionaries.
  • A unique online dictionary with sentences shown as examples.
  • 2-definitions-examples

  • Conversational usage through Twitter feed.
  • Synonyms and antonyms.
  • Images from Flickr which relate to the word.


  • Audio pronunciations.
  • Statistical view as its frequency of use in a year and its unusualness.
  • Etymology i.e. the root of the word.
  • Anagrams and even how many points you can stack up in Scrabble!

All these get their own individual pages where a word buff can go through it in greater detail.

Wordnik is slightly similar to Wiktionary in the way it accepts user contributions but it is not entirely a collaborative project like the Wikipedia based dictionary.

The final word”¦

Wordnik is still very much a work in progress therefore it may not be exhaustive enough for the serious word boffin. But if you have your word, it does provide enough tools (for example the Twitter feed and the Flickr photosets) to really understand the context of the word. And this multi-pronged approach could be useful for non-native speakers of the language. The site is well laid out, clean and responsive. It may not replace your favorite dictionary just yet but it is definitely on its way.

Pelt Wordnik with a few words and let us know if you liked the results. After all, there’s nothing like a good word.

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  1. Rachel M Hervey PHN
    August 14, 2009 at 4:35 pm

    Meaning of the word "Tort" please. Thank you ! Sincerely,

    • Saikat
      August 14, 2009 at 10:51 pm :)

  2. francoamanda
    June 17, 2009 at 7:23 pm

    Thank you for referring this site. It is great! I was even able to submit the definition of a word, which made me feel very important ;-) I appreciate tremendously Wordnik's approach to a word from many different angles. Only then I can really understand the word's full meaning and will be able to remember its applications. Cannot thank you enough!

  3. Joao Brito
    June 16, 2009 at 4:24 pm

    Let me tell you what: that's great. Wordnik shows the word in a lot of contexts (including text people just typed in twitter) what helps a lot to understand its meaning. I'm Brazilian and live in Brazil and after years studying English I realized that the great quality of your language is its simplicity, which is also the main difficulty. English is a "loose" language, so it's easy to get it at first, but the further you go, the harder it gets to understand the subtleties, so we need examples, lots of them, to really understand English. I used to do my own Wordnik with google. When I didn't understand a word or expression, I googled it, to find contexts for it. Wordnik does much better than this. Thanks a lot for the link, sorry for writing so much, but it is really such a great service I want to praise.

    • Saikat
      June 17, 2009 at 12:42 am

      Hi Joao, are using it exactly like it is supposed to be used. Twitter feeds gives the colloquial context...street usage so to say...and Flickr images for me at least helps to remember complex words.