Why use a dictionary?Dictionaries can be used to check spelling, to learn new words, to find or double-check the meaning of a word you encounter, or to find the right word to use. How to best use a dictionary depends on what you are doing with words.
If you're a lawyer
If you're a teacher
If you're a student
If you're learning English If you're learning another language
When you're surfing the web
When someone uses a word you don't understand in a meeting
When you're writing
To avoid looking stupid
the U.S. Supreme Court and Justice Scalia in particular increasingly cite dictionaries in their decisions. Many different dictionaries get cited. There is no single best dictionary. While "Webster's" seems to be the most popular, several unrelated dictionaries can call themselves Webster's and Noah Webster's copyrights have long since expired. Other courts cite dictionaries as well. So when preparing a brief, make sure that you look up key terms and refer to their definition. If a key term has multiple meanings, then use a thesaurus to find the correct unambiguous term.
A major part of legal research is sitting down in front of a search engine to find case law. Some of the user interfaces of major search tools for lawyers are difficult to use. If you don't use the exact words for the search, you will miss something or get too many documents. A good dictionary lets you check the spelling of words before you launch a search. And a thesaurus lets you find synonyms and other related words. The full version of LookWAYup includes the option of generating a search of the FindLaw service, and can automatically search for synonyms, related words, and context terms.
LookWAYup has a number of features that benefit the learner of English at several levels. Because it finds words in their natural habitat, it reduces them automatically to their dictionary form, through its extensive understanding of grammar. For instance, when clicking on the word "kidding" LookWAYup shows only the verb form of "kid", while "kids" shows both the noun and verb forms of "kid". It is not easily fooled; "criteria" is changed to "criterion" and "aren't" to "be". Beyond correct inflected spellings, it also tolerates misspellings in words entered by the learner, particularly phonetic misspellings. For instance "emfasis" is changed to "emphasis" but the learner is told that this was an error. When it is not clear what the error was, LookWAYup provides several alternatives.
On most browsers, LookWAYup also lets the learner get a definition of any word in the definitions just by double-clicking it. Where a word has several senses (and restricted-vocabulary words often do) the most likely sense is presented first, followed by all other meanings are in decreasing order of likelihood. Clicking on "More..." moves to a more detailed page with examples of usage and a thesaurus. For instance, following the "More..." button on the verb "ridicule" meaning "subject to laughter or ridicule", one finds the example sentence "The satirists ridiculed the plans for a new opera house"
Synonyms include "laugh at" "make fun" "poke fun", that to ridicule is to mock, and that more specific verbs include satirize, debunk, and stultify. Clicking on "mock" similarly tells you that to mock is to treat with contempt, and that one can mock by ridiculing, teasing, or deriding. Licensed users of the full version would further find out that while people ridicule persons, things and activities, it is not unusual for things to mock persons.
The pedagogical advantages of adding LookWAYup to computer-assisted learning exercises are clear. Unlike a paper exercise where any one word can be the stumbling block to understanding, using LookWAYup provides the tools to overcome the difficulty, without embarassment to the learner.
The dictionary means that the teacher is not forced to analyze each word to see whether each learner is familiar with the use of this word in this context. The ability to use a slightly more advanced vocabulary without risk reinforces this vocabulary for those who have seen it and allows others to rapidly acquire the vocabulary, giving them the confidence to take on more challenging texts. The value of this risk-free uncertainty certainly depends on the cultural importance of embarassment for the learner.
The active acquisition of vocabulary - by selecting a word and clicking on it - engages the student and reinforces the learning process more than a passive glossary. Further, by presenting several senses the process of selecting the correct one introduces the cognitive process of disambiguation that the reader having a larger vocabulary needs to acquire. Out of all the possible meanings, the learner must pick the correct one, therefore moving from a lexical to a semantic understanding of the term within the text.
The interaction that is possible with the text when LookWAYup is added means that the set of possible interactions between the learner and the learning materials is not resricted to what was predicted or prescribed by the teacher.
A thesaurus is a great tool if you are writing an essay. Teachers will always prefer writing where you vary the vocabulary. What does this mean? It means that you should not use the same word too many times in a row. When you see you are about to use the same word again, look it up in the thesaurus. If you're using LookWAYup, just drag the word to an open LookWAYup window. then click on the word "More..." to see synonyms and related terms for a particular meaning of the word. You can then use some of the synonyms, or find more specific terms under "Examples" or other related terms if they fit the sentence.
Start out your research on any paper with a dictionary. It will get you keywords, phrases, and synonyms that will help you formulate your searches using online databases and search engines.
It is good to have a dictionary handy when you are reading a document. If you're unsure of the meaning of a word in a document, you just highlight the word and launch LookWAYup and then you instantly find out what it means. You can have a LookWAYup window open and drag words onto it. This is particularly good if you are using software other than a browser. To be able to look up words while you are browsing, then just install the dictionary on your browser. It only takes a few seconds.
How about if the definition of a word uses a word you don't understand? Just double-click on it and that word gets defined instantly. Still not sure what the word means? You can easily search the Web for the term that you're looking at, by using the "Search" feature of the LookWAYup screen. You get to pick the search engine that you prefer. With the full version you get even more choices, including kids and educational search engines. If you picked the word out of a web page, the results will be even better, as the LookWAYup engine will pick out other keywords from the web page to help narrow down the search.
While you are looking up the word, you have an opportunity to learn a number of related words. The word may have several meanings. The more you learn English, the greater the number of secondary meanings you want to look up. These are usually in order of how commonly the sense is used. The better your English, the more senses you want to become familiar with. This will avoid confusion in the future as you start reading more complex documents. It is also useful to look up synomyms while you are there. Looking up synonyms is a good way of confirming that you have actually understood the word. Are the synonyms listed by the dictionary interchangeable in a sentence with the word you are looking up? If not, you may have the wrong sense of the word.
Another great tool for learning is "related terms". You can look up more general or more specific terms. Looking up more general terms is great for reading; it helps better understand the word but letting look at words that have slightly different meanings and understanding why they are not synonyms. Using LookWAYup to navigate through related words is also a great way to find the correct word. You can look up a similar or related word, or a general word, and by following the links you can find the right word. For instance if you are looking for a word that means to see something quickly, you can look up the word "see" then find more specific terms like "get a look" or its synonym "catch a glimpse".
Another way of using a dictionary is to translate a term into your language. There are a number of online dictionaries, including LookWAYup, which will take a word in English and translate it into your language, or vice-versa. One of the features that is built into LookWAYup is that it associates the translation of the word with the sense of the word, that is to say it provides a full definition, examples, and thesaurus entries, not just "you give me a string of letters and I give you a string of letters". If you have an internet-enabled mobile phone, or a Palm or Blackberry, you can use LookWAYup anywhere, not just when you are sitting at a computer. If you see a word on a restaurant menu or an airport sign, simply type it into your mobile device and you will get an instant definition.
If you know the rudiments of the language, then you are better off reading it yourself with only a little help from an online dictionary for the words you're not sure of. The LookWAYup translation tools will do this. With the traditional "you give me a string of letters and I give you a string of letters" approach, you may be no further ahead. If it tells you "jouer" can mean "act", you do not know what sense of "act" is meant. LookWAYup plugs translation to the sense, with definition, examples, and thesaurus entries.
The first step (and also several of the middle steps) in finding information on the web is to create a good query for a search engine. This means making sure that you are using the right word, that it is correctly spelled, and you may want to add synonyms to broaden the search. This is something that LookWAYup can do automatically for a variety of search engines, using general engines like Google or specialized ones for case law or song lyrics.
When the query comes back, you want to properly understand the web pages you see or send a follow-up query. This is where installing LookWAYup on your browser lets you do that easily. Double-click to highlight the word and LookWAYup will not only look it up (it automatically puts it into dictionary form if it is in the plural or past tense) and give you a deinition but it also proposes a follow-up query. The query will search for this word and also pick up some key words from the context of the page where it found it. It can also restrict the search to elsewhere on the same web site.
If you have an internet-enabled mobile phone, or a Palm or Blackberry, you can use LookWAYup anywhere, not just when you are sitting at a computer. It's very discreet if you want it to be, or you can look like you are studiously taking note of the important parts. Simply type it into your mobile device and you will get an instant definition. Even if your spelling is not quite right it should find it for you.homonyms, you need a dictionary to make sure you are correctly spelling the right word.
Editors will always tell you to vary your vocabulary. This means that you should not use the same word too many times in a row. When you see you are about to use the same word again, look it up in the thesaurus. If you're using LookWAYup, just drag the word to an open LookWAYup window. then click on the word "More..." to see synonyms and related terms for a particular meaning of the word. You can then use some of the synonyms, or find more specific terms under "Examples" or other related terms if they fit the sentence.wireless PDA or mobile phone.