How to Find Dictionary Definitions with Google

How to use the Google dictionary right on the search page

Screenshot of using Google definition

Marziah Karch

Did you know you can use Google just like a dictionary?

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. 

Define: Your Term

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 normal keyword search, so some of the results might be long articles about clews, or may only mention the definition in passing.

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, you'll see that a clew is the lower corner of a boat sail.

The definition comes from a variety of dictionary related Web sites, so there's a link to the full entry listed in search results as well.

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 you type in DEFINE: cliw, Google helpfully asks "Did you mean: DEFINE: clew."

End Word with "Definition"

An alternative approach is typing the word you want defined, followed by the word definition.

This works the same way, and will return the definition of the word in the same dictionary snippet format.

Usually, you don't even need to type the entire word "definition" before Google will return the definition in the search results.

Additional features you'll see when Google provides a definition snippet:

  • Click the speaker icon to hear how the word is pronounced.
  • Click Translations, word origin, and more definitions to learn more about the word.
  • Use the Search field to search for other dictionary words.

Google Definition Chrome Extension

A screenshot of the Google Dictionary Chrome extension

The official Google dictionary extension is one of the most popular Chrome extensions.

The reason it's so popular is because it's so easy to use. You just highlight a word and click on the Google Dictionary browser icon and see a full definition.

Even easier, just double click on any word on the web page and you'll see a convenient, pop-up window with the definition of that word.

The extension supports multiple languages, which you can configure in the settings menu Things you can configure:

  • Whether or not you want a pop-up definition when you double click.
  • Whether to display a pop-up when you only select a word.
  • Have the extensions store every word you look up.

If you love language and enjoy discovering new words, this extension is a great way to build your own personal library of interesting terms and definitions.

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.