How to Find Dictionary Definitions with Google

Unlock Google's Hidden Dictionary

Clew definition shown in Google infobox dictionary
Google's infobox dictionary. Screen Capture

Google can be used just like a dictionary. Here's how. You may have noticed that Google occasionally displays info boxes with snippets of information pulled from other websites. Among the more common info boxes is a dictionary definition. Google's hidden dictionary is pulled from multiple Internet dictionaries, and it's a super easy reference whenever you want to look up the definition of the word. 

Say you'd like to find out what a "clew" is. You could search for define clew, and most of the search results would have some sort of definition. However, this is really just a keyword search, so some of the results might be long articles on clews or only mention the definition in passing.

Define: Your Terms

If you're really only interested in finding a quick dictionary style definition of clew, use the syntax define:. The search in this case would be define: clew. From that search, we can instantly see that a clew is the lower corner of a boat sail. It's not always necessary to use the colon in your search phrase. "Define clew" will probably work, too. 

As previously mentioned, the definition is coming from a variety of dictionary related Web sites, so there's a link to the full entry. Google also provides links to related searches, such as "clew bay."

What If You Can't Spell?

If you aren't the best speller or you make a typo, don't worry. Google will still suggest an alternate search, just as it does for regular Web searches. If we type in define: cliw, Google helpfully asks "Did you mean: define: clew."

What If You Want a Thesaurus?

Google's dictionary is strictly a search for definitions on the Web. However, you can find synonyms in searches with Google. Google also has a hidden calculator and hidden phone book.