Best Free Dictionary and Thesaurus Utility

 
Introduction

Dictionary and thesaurus utilities help to find the meanings of words and suggest a list of words according to similarity of meaning on your computer screen. They are handy and helpful for daily use without the need to flip through a thick and heavy dictionary or thesaurus.

 
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Discussion

I've been using WordWeb for a while now and have seen enough to say this will be one of the rare utilities I review that ends up staying on my PC. WordWeb is an enhanced dictionary and thesaurus. I say "enhanced" because it does some tricky extra things like showing only the relevant synonyms and related words according to whether they are noun, verb, adjective or adverb. It can also find words by pattern match or dictionary adjacency.

Usage is simple; just select a word in any document and click the WordWeb tray icon. Immediately you'll get a pop-up with the word's meaning and synonyms. Additional features like "Wikipedia", "Wiktionary" and "WordWeb Online" can only be accessed if you're online. I recommend that it is best that you explore these amazing features yourself. Overall, it works efficiently and elegantly to help you find the just right word to use in your written reports. WordWeb is free for personal use and a Pro version with an enhanced dictionary costs a mere $29 and is well worth buying.

 

An equally attractive alternative to WordWeb is TheSage from Sequence Publishing. Like WordWeb, it's a comprehensive dictionary with over 140,000 references together with a powerful thesaurus. It differs in that it is free even for commercial use and offers a couple of features missing from the free version of WordWeb such as anagram solving and wildcard word matches.

On the minus side, WordWeb allows you to find meanings and synonyms in any application just by double clicking the word, with TheSage you have to cut and paste it into the application after you've launched it from its task bar icon.

 

If you just want a thesaurus consider Mobysaurus. It's much more comprehensive than the thesaurus in either WordWeb and TheSage but lacks a separate dictionary. However, for wordsmiths it's a must-have product. Mobysaurus is yet another outstanding free utility from the guys at DonationCoder. If you use Mobysaurus, do the right thing and support DonationCoder generously.

 

Other freeware products to be reviewed:

 
Related Products and Links

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Quick Selection Guide

WordWeb
5
 
Gizmo's Freeware award as the best product in its class!

Runs as a stand-alone program on a user's computer
Simple usage, popup with powerful word's meaning and synonyms, find words by pattern match or dictionary adjacency, additional online features.
Missing anagram solving and wildcard word matches.
http://wordweb.info/
7
21.4 MB
32 bit but 64 bit compatible
Free for private use only
A portable version of this product is available but not from the developer.
Windows 2000 to 7

v7 released 10 June, 2013

The online version is available at http://www.wordwebonline.com/

Portable version: http://www.softpedia.com/get/PORTABLE-SOFTWARE/Education/Portable-WordWe...

For iPod or iPhone lovers there is a surprise waiting here
http://www.wordwebsoftware.com/WordWebiPhone.html

TheSage
4
 
Runs as a stand-alone program on a user's computer
Comprehensive dictionary with over 140,000 references together with a powerful thesaurus, anagram solving and wildcard word matches.
Not user friendly, need to cut and paste the word into the application.
5.1.1790
20.94 MB
Unrestricted freeware
This product is portable.
Windows XP to Vista, 7

v5.1.1790 released 24 January, 2013

The Sage's dictionary is now online: http://www.sequencepublishing.com/thesageonline.php

Mobysaurus
3.5
 
Runs as a stand-alone program on a user's computer
Much more comprehensive than the thesaurus in either WordWeb and The Sage.
Lacks a separate dictionary
1.0.55
4.71 MB
Unrestricted freeware
There is no portable version of this product available.
Windows 98/Me/NT/2000/2003/XP/Vista

Developer's homepage: http://moby.donationcoders.com/ (currently not available)
They offer a new free online thesaurus http://freethesaurus.net/

 
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Tags

dictionary, thesaurus, online dictionary, online thesaurus, free, freeware

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Comments

by UltraCraig64 on 8. May 2013 - 5:24  (107543)

I would like to warn others about a little caveat with Wordweb, as a former user. The program itself is excellent, and from what I could tell, is completely worthy of its Gizmo's Freeware award. But there is a condition if one wishes to use the free version after 30 days. Let me share with you an excerpt from the Wordweb developers' site:

"WordWeb free version may be used indefinitely only by people who take at most two commercial flights (not more than one return flight) in any 12 month period. People who fly more than this need to purchase the Pro version if they wish to continue to use it after a 30-day trial period."

I had not previously read this, and answered truthfully that I had in fact taken more than two one-way flights in the past year. Now I can supposedly never use the free version again, because of my alleged contribution to global warming. A real shame. And for a strong political stance on an issue that I largely call into question, but that is neither here nor there. The point is that it is conditional freeware, so I just wanted others to keep this in mind. Well, at least I didn't tell any "fibs" come the trial's end. No moral dilemmas here! I would still highly recommend the product, although I plan to check out the other programs featured here for my own personal use. Wordweb's free version is sadly no longer an option for me. Maybe in future updates, the author of this review can include a disclaimer.

by Drongo on 9. May 2013 - 7:31  (107582)

Try Lingoes. It has the same type of word lookup in most programs, can use multiple dictionaries, and can be set up for multiple languages if you like.

by superceeded on 13. March 2013 - 17:42  (106220)

Re Mobysaurus

Anyone planning to run the above on a Win 7 64bit or higher machine needs to download an updated DLL file in order for it to work. I couldn't find much on it other than an obscure post by the developer himself.

After installation the current "dc_lic.dll" needs to be replaced with the updated one.
Download the above named file & then paste same into the Mobysaurus directory which will replace the origional 32bit dll. After that it should work fine.

Link to the developer's note is here : http://www.donationcoder.com/forum/index.php?topic=18066.0;wap2

Link to the updated version of said file is on the page.
[Moderator's note: Link to direct download of file edited out. Not allowed]

Copy & paste the new "dc_lic.dll" into :

C:\Program Files (x86)\Mobysaurus Thesaurus

Cheers

by mmTsuchi (not verified) on 24. June 2012 - 16:32  (95316)

Lingoes is good BUT if you don't have the latest update you can't use Lingoes offline anymore : very frustating. The author has wanted that (justified by the popup message).

LingoPad semms to be a good "german to english" and vice_versa dictionnary. Others dictionnaries can be downloaded (a little hard to find)

by tobiasbrutas (not verified) on 7. November 2011 - 23:41  (82883)

I'm what one might call a numb-skull and all I want to do is download a Thesaurus and a dictionary just like that on My old Windows EX P I'm not interested in anything else? And although I'd like a free download of which I can store on my Computer and use it without being connected to the Internet I wouldn't Mind Donating a few Pounds, just so long as I Don't have stupid adverts flashing in my eyes all the blasted time? So in Plain English of which a Numb-skull can even understand Can anybody tell me on what Download is best for me for My windows 7 Starter: I wish to hell I had not been talked into Upgrading from EX P as most of the things which were on my EX P are defunct from the Widows 7 Cannot get default client Mail and have tried till I'm pig sick. Will someone Take Pity upon a Richard Head (slang for Richard)and use plain simple English 7 November 2011

by Anupam on 8. November 2011 - 4:56  (82888)

Did you try any of the programs here in the article?

by Philo (not verified) on 1. August 2011 - 15:26  (76695)

Lingoes is superb as a combination dictionary/thesaurus/translator. Sadly, it appears to be abandonware as it has not been updated in over a year and doesn't support Firefox beyond version 3. It's really too bad, since it is superior to Wordweb and Sage in many respects.

by darkul (not verified) on 8. November 2011 - 10:55  (82901)

Wrong. Lingoes has been updated to version 2.8.1.
In the last view weeks the author has been very busy doing a good job. It supports all the important browsers.

Lingoes is simply the best on-demand translation software with a vast amount of free dictionaries.
The only thing I would like to be added is the translation power of leo.org which is simply the best source for German translations. They have their own tool called LION but that is nothing else than a simplified form of the the respective website.

by Philo (not verified) on 27. January 2012 - 16:43  (87898)

Right! Wonderful news.

Two points:

1) I had a bit of problem during the install of the new version, since the old version was running and the file Lingoes.exe was locked. I had to use the Windows Task Manager to kill the Lingoes process in order to allow the install to continue.

2) After install, you must go to Configuration->Text Capture->Install Text Capture Plugin... to activate Lingoes for your browser. It supports Firefox and Chrome.

by iawi on 22. May 2011 - 23:08  (72522)

Another to add is WordNet (http://wordnet.princeton.edu/). It combines dictioary and thesaurus but in a format that is unlike a conventional dictionary/thesaurus.

As the website says "Nouns, verbs, adjectives and adverbs are grouped into sets of cognitive synonyms (synsets), each expressing a distinct concept. Synsets are interlinked by means of conceptual-semantic and lexical relations."

by J_L on 10. April 2011 - 1:17  (69865)

I see some strong support for Lingoes, but it cannot capture words on 64-bit systems. The CTRL + Right Click, or whatever I set up, never works.
The copy capture does work, but that can get annoying.

by darkul (not verified) on 8. November 2011 - 10:57  (82902)

Also wrong. Works since Win7-64 is out in every document you want to read. It has something to do with browser support and that has been changed in the last weeks.

by grantc (not verified) on 8. January 2011 - 17:14  (64151)

Tried all of the portable apps suggested here and agree, Wordweb is the best. simplest layout, quick. Sage was too complex for a quick look up tool. Sage and Lingoes didn't provide that great a selection of synonyms.

Thanks again to techsupportalert, one of the best resources for quick freeware solutions.

by jacqueline (not verified) on 3. October 2010 - 15:11  (58963)

A valuable tool, use it daily, and a great asset for my daughter, who has no idea what a real book feels like

by Anupam on 3. October 2010 - 15:22  (58964)

Thanks for the appreciation, but why are you posting it repeatedly? Please do not make multiple comments :).

by Anonymous on 27. June 2010 - 8:23  (53252)

New version of Sage's dictionary is awesome.

by notme (not verified) on 19. August 2010 - 18:18  (56367)

Awesome? Why? Because no more need to cut and paste, or because it has pretty colors?

by Anonymous on 16. January 2010 - 13:30  (41236)

I like finding out where our words come from. Do any of the above do that?

by Anupam on 25. November 2009 - 6:41  (37259)

WordWeb 6 has been released.

by Anonymous on 19. January 2010 - 16:29  (41544)

Yes and with a childish license. "Do you fly more than two times a year?"..."Oh you do...you can't use the free version any more..nah..nahh...nee...nahhh nahhhhh"

by Anonymous on 15. October 2009 - 18:40  (34732)

Lingoes is the best , very powerful.

by Mert Nuhoglu (not verified) on 7. September 2010 - 22:49  (57422)

Unfortunately, the last version of Lingoes became adware. It presents very annoying ad windows by interrupting the user frequently. Does anybody know how to disable these ads?

by iamphiree (not verified) on 6. December 2010 - 4:43  (62077)

i am chinese, and refuse almost all civil software. my sugguestion is: don't use them.
1: the dictionaries it use has no copyright
2: ads which its main income makes it evil.
3:like some other softwares, it maybe steal your privacy under the pressure of the goverment.

by Anonymous on 8. October 2009 - 15:15  (34171)

Has anyone tried '1-Click Answers'?
http://www.answers.com/main/download_answers_win.jsp
With it you also 'Alt-Click' on any word to retrieve the answer, and the program is under 1MB.

by Anonymous on 28. May 2009 - 8:08  (22483)

Lingoes is head and shoulders above the other apps listed in this article imho. It's basically a free version of the fantastic Babylon. It offers multiple online and offline dictionaries, thesaurus, encyclopedias, spell checkers, translators etc etc, all within one easy to use interface.

http://www.lingoes.net/

by DesElms on 15. August 2009 - 8:11  (27137)

I could not more strongly agree.

If one downloads Lingoes and just the right additional dictionaries, and the puts them in the right order (this is key); and if one adds cool additional tools like spelling suggestions and others; and if one removes a couple of the "appendices" (as they're called in Lingoes) that are pointless; and if you configure its behavior just so (this, too, is key)...

...then it is just about the hottest thing of its type out there... especially among freebies... but even among some commercial products.

I even like it better than the commercial Babylon... especially when I saw what Babylon charged for the exact same dictionaries that I could get for free -- and MORE -- on the Lingoes site.

This thing is truly amazing... way, way more amazing than I realized even after using it for a while.

All you have to do, for example, is hover the mouse pointer above a word you're not sure is spelled correctly, or the definition of which you'd like, or the antonyms/synonyms to which you'd like...

...or the translation, or the spelling suggestions, or the pronunciation, or the word parts, or the word origins, or the slang, or the idioms, or the antonyms (and synonyms), or the translation, or...

[breathless]

...the list just goes on and on... just hover the mouse pointer above the word in question, then hit Ctrl-right-click (or any other keystroke/click combination you'd like instead) and an entire listing of ALL those things -- and more -- pops-up and can br scrolled up/down through easily.

Actually, the only thing it DOESN'T do is spell-check while one types, and lo and behold, the free version of TinySpell (linked to in "Best Free Spell Checker" under "Related Products and Links" on this page) handles that magnificently!

Together, they're a KILLER combination, the likes of which one would NEVER have expected to see in a pair of freebie.

One can also use Lingoes to look-up words on all of the biggest online dictionary/thesaurus web site while never leaving the Lingoes interface.

Same for all the big online translation sites.

It also has some extras in it like a currency converter, and weights and measures converter, and time zone converter, and international dialing codes, and the international phonetic alphabet, and the periodic table, and a scientific notation calculator, and a base-64 encoder/decoder, and an MD4/MD5/SHA-1 algorithm maker, and abbreviations, and irregular verbs, and domain name gTLD and ccTLD listings, and computer file types, and computer terms, and medical terms, and a mythology dictionary/encyclopedia, and a Shakespearian dictionary, and the CIA Word Fact Book, and essential vocabulary, and... and....

[breathless again]

...and that's just the stuff in ENGLISH. It translates back and forth between more than 80 languages, any 23 of which at a time into your own language.

It's UNBELIEVABLE!!!!

I've used WordWeb since its beginnings. The Sage, too.

I love them both. They're fantastic. (I slightly prefer The Sage, but I've used WordWeb longer than any of them.)

However, I'm now using Lingoes. And it's likely to stay that way for the foreseeable future.

It takes some downloading of dictionaries and add-ons, and some setting up, in order to get Lingoes tweaked to the point that it will do everything (and more) that I've herein listed, but once that's done: Oh. My. God.

And since it's free and sorta' pseudo open-source, one can create their own dictionaries, glossaries, lexicons and other references with no problem... the complete instructions are right on the sight.

This thing should not be underestimated.

Lingoes. And TinySpell. Mmmmmm.

 

__________________________
Gregg L. DesElms
gregg [at] greggdeselms.com
Napa, California

 

by Frank Tracy (not verified) on 31. August 2012 - 21:43  (98593)

"I think tinySpell is great, but one word of caution - when you hover the mouse over the icon at the bottom right of the screen, tinySpell will reveal the last thing you typed in, even if that was a password! So someone else who uses your computer can have access to sensitive information. So I disabled it in certain applications and keep the icon hidden. But after seeing what tinySpell, SIW and PC Wizard can reveal, I now keep others in my family (or outside the family) from using my computer at all. Oh, there may be other spell checkers (and misc apps) that act similarly."

I have since deleted TinySpell so I don't know if this problem has been addressed.

by Jojo Yee on 15. August 2009 - 10:26  (27153)

Many thanks for the good comments. I tried it on Firefox and it works fine, but it doesn't show up on Chrome. Anyone has an idea to make it work?

by Anonymous on 20. May 2009 - 12:46  (21945)

TheSage is total overkill for the average user, and it's option's configuration are bewildering. WordWeb is a much better choice for most people IMHO.

by Bob on 20. April 2009 - 6:55  (20165)

I tend to search from my browser and have found the Dictionary Tooltip extension for Firefox useful. However, I preferred earlier versions which searched multiple dictionaries by default - useful for technical terms that are context specific.

Similarly, Google now seems to restrict its 'define:someword' search function to just a few online sources.

A useful alternative for multidisciplinary work is Onelook: http://www.onelook.com/

I also find Foreignword useful to look for translations of specific terms between different languages: http://www.foreignword.com/Tools/dictsrch.htm
This site also offers a freeware program called Xanadu (http://www.foreignword.biz/software/Xanadu/default.aspx), but development seems to have stopped in 2002.

Bob

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