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I Heart the Reverse Dictionary

by missy 5/14/2008 2:14:00 PM
Got a case of tip-of-your-tongue syndrome? The Reverse Dictionary might be an effective remedy, allowing you to describe a concept and get results about it. Let's say you're telling someone about the penalty Tomas Holmstrom got in the Stanley Cup playoff game the other night for interfering in the ... the ... you know, that part of the ice right in front of the goal. Reverse Dictionary to the rescue: entering "hockey goalie area" nets me (pun fully intended) the word "crease" and 100 other related terms that I can browse.

For your academic work, there are other tools the library offers that can help with this kind of thing, too: a thesaurus (Roget's and lots of other options at R. 423.1), a visual dictionary (R. 423.1 M167C1992), a thematic dictionary (Descriptionary, LPC R. 423.1 M133D), or a reference e-book collection like Credo for more substantial research.

But when you're trying to think of a term that you might not have dropped into casual usage since that philosophy class two years ago, it's nice to type in "German worldview" and be pointed to multiple definitions of "weltanschauung". And while I can neither confirm nor deny that it may be useful for crossword puzzles (a seven-letter word for hungry: p??ki?h) and Scrabulous, this may be a tip you want to keep to yourself.

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