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Google quietly rolls out Dictionary [Updated]

December 3, 2009 |  6:34 pm

Google
What does "googling" mean? Google can tell you.

The search giant has quietly rolled out Google Dictionary, which presents definitions and synonyms. Exactly what you'd expect from a dictionary.

In addition to Google's own database of definitions, looking up a word on the Dictionary website provides a list of definitions pulled from a variety of academically authoritative sources (oh, and Wikipedia).

It has a few cool features. You can mark words with the star button and come back to them later, see a list of recent searches and switch to translator resources or dictionaries for other languages -- not to be confused with Google Translate.

Dictionary companies have expected Google would saunter into their realm any day.

Alex Zudin is the owner of Paragon Software, which works closely with Merriam-Webster, Oxford and other renowned keepers of language to build applications based on their data. Zudin says that Google could provide a service in the low-level consumer market, but higher-ed students and professionals would still buy the unabridged versions.

"It will serve you until a certain level," Zudin said over lunch on Wednesday about Google Translate, which was the company's first step into the language space. "It's not enough to be precise."

The company that might be hurt the most by Google's new product is Answers.com. Previously, the "definition" button at the top right of all Google searches for words would direct users to entries on the Wikipedia-like Answers.com site. Now those links go to Google Dictionary, a less colorful, less cluttered interface.

So, what does it mean to "google"? According to the top result in Google Dictionary, taken from Princeton's WordNet, the verb means:

search the internet (for information) using the Google search engine; "He googled the woman he had met at the party"; "My children are googling all day."

Your children are googling all day? Yeah, us too.

[Updated at 7:35 p.m.: We should note that the aggregation feature previously existed on Google.com/dictionary and searches preceded by the search operator "define:."]

-- Mark Milian
twitter.com/markmilian

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