OneLook Review

Use the unique reverse dictionary to search by definition

Illustration of stacked books

OneLook is an dictionary and thesaurus tool. It searches more than 1,000 dictionaries and has indexed well over 18 million words, so there's a good chance you'll find what you're looking for here.

The website has been around a long time — since 1996 — and still resembles an old-style site with no graphics. However, this means that it's extremely clean and free from clutter, and there are also no ads to get in the way. While the site is super easy to use for anyone, there are advanced searches you can perform if you want to.

One feature worth mentioning that you might not be used to with a dictionary tool, is OneLook's reverse dictionary search that can help you find a word if you only know its definition.

How to Use OneLook

There are a few ways to use OneLook. The search box on the home page can take you to nearly all areas of the website, but there are also separate links you can follow to access OneLook's specific features.

Dictionary Search

The dictionary search is available on the OneLook home page. Use it like you would any dictionary website: enter a word to find its definition.

OneLook home page

For example, if you type house and then select the Definitions button, OneLook will return "quick definitions" off to the right as well as links to a variety of other results from other dictionary sites.

OneLook dictionary search results for house

As you can see from these results, you can use the Jump to links at the top to view definitions that are cataloged in those areas.

The OneLook dictionary site is also amazingly advanced for such a simple-looking website. If you need to, you can utilize search patterns to perform advanced searches, which is useful if you only know part of the word.

For example, if you know that the word you're looking for starts with abr, but you don't know the rest, search OneLook for abr*. The asterisk explains that there are letters following the ones you typed, so to search for those words, too.

OneLook dictionary search with asterisk

Similarly, you can put an asterisk before the letters or on both ends. For instance, *ting locates words that end in those letters. Entering *anti* performs a dictionary search where all the results include those letters but other letters can exist before or after them.

Another pattern you can use involves the question mark. It's similar to an asterisk but OneLook will use it as just a single letter placeholder. For example, hou?e will locate just the word house, whereas hou*e might show a dozen results, including hour circle, houseline, and housewife.

You can read more about the other wildcard patterns in OneLook's FAQ.

Reverse Dictionary Search

OneLook Reverse Dictionary and Thesaurus is explained by OneLook as the page where you can "describe a concept and get back a list of words and phrases related to that concept."

It's similar to a thesaurus you might be used to that shows synonyms and related concepts, but instead of entering just one word, you can throw a whole sentence at it. This is useful if you know how to describe the concept but you're not aware of any synonyms.

Here's an example you could type into the OneLook reverse dictionary:

where humans live
OneLook reverse dictionary search for where humans live

Like you see above, you didn't have to know that the words habitable, city, and world, could be synonyms with home; you just needed to know how to describe the word home.

Of course, you can use the reverse dictionary search on OneLook as a thesaurus, too, if you want to enter just a single word.

OneLook thesaurus and reverse dictionary search for home

The Show filters button above the results can be used to narrow down the listing. For example, if you can't think of a synonym that goes with home but you know it starts with the letter r, you can fill out the Starts with text box.

OneLook thesaurus filters

The thesaurus results on OneLook are also categorized by parts of speech.

The reverse dictionary search tool is available from the OneLook home page as well. Enter the word or words you want to search for, and then select Related words to open the thesaurus page.

Word of the Day

The OneLook Word of the Day is another page you can visit on this dictionary site. Every hour, OneLook calls out the highest-searched word on the site and displays it on this page and at the bottom of the home page. Selecting it takes you to its definition page on OneLook where you can learn more about the word.

OneLook word of the day page

On the Word of the Day page is also a link where you can search Google News for the word. Given that the word was popular on OneLook, you might assume visitors were looking up its definition due to its popularity on the web, so a news search might be helpful.