Dictionary bookmarklet

A bookmarklet that opens an online dictionary to define your selected word.

One feature I really like about Safari on the iPhone is that when you’re reading an article you can highlight a word and get a definition from the built-in dictionary. I find it a very natural way to decipher the accurate intent of the author and the etymologies provided further illumine the word’s context.

If I want to look up a word when using a desktop Web browser I hit Alt+Home to go to my homepage, flat HTML with a form to search at websites I frequently use, type the word and choose a dictionary. I realised I’ve gotten so used to this process I don’t think about it even though I do it a lot and it’s not very efficient.

I thought about adding an option to the right-click context menu of the browser but most of them are so hideously stuffed with kitchen plumbing that it would be quicker to dust off an actual dictionary and flick through the pages.

I’m a logophile not a sesquipedalian inveigler!

So instead I delved into “things that were cool to do with JavaScript in the year 2000” and created a few bookmarklets for online dictionaries. A bit passé but it’s functional and I use it so maybe it’s useful for you too?


How to use the bookmarklets

Simply click and drag on the bookmarklet you want to your browser’s toolbar. Internet Explorer: right-click on it and select Add to Favorites.

When you want to look up a word, select it and click on the bookmarket in your toolbar to open that page in the dictionary.

I’ve tested the bookmarklets in recent versions of Firefox, Chrome, Safari, and Internet Explorer so the selections should work crossbrowser.


Here are some words I looked up recently if you want to test a bookmarklet:

  • abstruse
  • battology
  • jeremiad
  • preternaturally
  • standpoint
  • titivating


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