- 10.8. Dictionary
For word nerds everywhere, the Dictionary (and Thesaurus) is a blessing—it a handy way
to look up word definitions, pronunciations, and synonyms. To be precise, Leopard now
comes with electronic versions of seven reference works in one:
• The entire New Oxford American Dictionary.
• The complete Oxford American Writers Thesaurus.
• A new dictionary of Apple terms, from A/UX to widget. (Apparently there aren't
any Apple terms that begin with X, Y, or Z.)
• Wikipedia. Of course, this famous open-source, citizen-created encyclopedia isn't
actually on your Mac. All Dictionary does is give you an easy way to search the
online version, and display the results right in the comfy Dictionary window.
Figure 10-3. When you open the Dictionary, it generally assumes that you
want a word's definition (top left). If you prefer to see the Wikipedia entry
(lower right) at startup time instead, for example, choose Dictionary
Preferences—and drag Wikipedia upward so that it precedes New Oxford
American Dictionary. That's all there is to it!
• A Japanese dictionary, thesaurus, and Japanese-to-English translation dictionary
Tip: You don't ordinarily see the Japanese reference books. You have to turn them on in
Mac OS X also comes with about a million ways to look up a word:
• Double-click the Dictionary icon. You get the window shown at top in Figure 10-
3. As you type into the Spotlight-y search box, you home in on matching words;
double-click a word, or highlight it and press Enter, to view a full, typographically
elegant definition, complete with sample sentence and pronunciation guide.
- Tip: And if you don't recognize a word in the definition, click that wordto look up
its definition. (Each word turns blue and underlined when you point to it, as a
reminder.) You can then double-click again in that definition—and on, and on, and
on.(You can then use the History menu, the and buttons on the toolbar, or
the -[ and -] keystrokes to go back and forward in your chain of lookups.)
It's worth exploring the Dictionary Preferences dialog box, by the way. There,
you can choose U.S. or British pronunciations and adjust the font size.
• Press F12. Yes, the Dictionary is one of the widgets in Dashboard (Section
• Control-click (right-click) a highlighted word in a Cocoa program. From the
shortcut menu, choose Look Up in Dictionary. The Dictionary program opens to
that word. (Or visit the Dictionary's Preferences box and choose "Open Dictionary
panel." Now you get a panel that pops out of the highlighted word instead.)
• Use the dict:// prefix in your Web browser. This might sound a little odd, but it's
actually ultra-convenient, because it puts the dictionary right where you're most
likely to need it: while you're reading stuff on the Web.
Turns out that you can look up a word (for example, preposterous) by typing
dict:// preposterous into the address bar—in the spot where you'd normally type
http://www.whatever. When you hit Return, Mac OS X opens the Dictionary
automatically and presents the search results from all of its resources (dictionary,
thesaurus, Apple terms, and Wikipedia).
• Point to a word in a Cocoa program, and then press Control- -D. That
keystroke makes the definition panel sprout right from the word you were pointing
to. (The advantage here, of course, is that you don't have to highlight the word
There's another new Dictionary feature worth noticing, too: the front matter of the Oxford
American Dictionary (the reference pages at the beginning). Here are some delicious
writers' tools, including guides to spelling, grammar, capitalization, punctuation,
chemical elements, and clichés, along with the full text of the Declaration of
Independence and the U.S. Constitution. Just choose Go Front/Back Matter—and
marvel that your Mac comes with a built-in college English course.
- Tip: Here's a trick for the informationally thirsty Mac fan (or speed reader). Once you've
invoked the Control- -D keystroke, keep the Control and keys pressed. Now drag
the cursor across the text. As you push the mouse around, the definition pops up for every
word you touch.Got a big screen or poor eyesight? Then bump up the type size.
Dictionary's toolbar has bigger/smaller buttons, and there's a Font Size pop-up menu in
the Preferences window.