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Why on earth would you ever want to look up the definition of a word on the Internet when a printed dictionary is so handy? Well, if you are connected to the Internet are are using Net DICTionary, you will find:

1) searching for a word using Net DICTionary is faster than looking it up in a paper dictionary! (assuming of course that your computer is already on and you have an active connection to the Internet.)

2) you can search multiple dictionaries using Net DICTionary!

3) you can find definitions that you can't find anywhere else!

4) it's fun!

Net DICTionary is a program that acts as a client for the RFC2229 Internet dictionary (DICT) protocol. For Net DICTionary to work, you must have an active Internet connection. You use Net DICTionary to send queries to DICT servers. Using Net DICTionary, you can request the definition of a word in a single dictionary or multiple dictionaries, or you can find out if a word or partial word can be matched in a single or multiple dictionaries.

Net DICTionary has a small footprint (less than 1 MB), is fast, and offers more features than any other Mac DICT client currently available. Net DICTionary is only available for the Macintosh. Windows users must suffer through using whatever software is available for that platform.

Versions are available for both PPC and 68k Macs. This software has not been tested with Mac OS versions prior to 7.6.1. It might work with earlier versions -- I don't know.

Net DICTionary is freeware, but it is copyrighted. I own the rights to Net DICTionary, but I give you an unrestricted right to use it. You can use Net DICTionary and give it away, but you cannot sell it. Net DICTionary may not be included with commercial software distributions without the written permission of the author. This file ("Net DICTionary Docs"), must be included with any distribution of the software.

Special Note: In using Net DICTionary, don't overlook the humor contained in the foldoc or jargon dictionaries (see definition of "management" in the foldoc dictionary database), or the usefulness of city information contained in the U.S. Gazetteer dictionary database (see definition of "Dallas" in gazetteer).

Warranty: Net DICTionary is offered "as is" - there is no warranty of any kind. If you misuse the definitions obtained through Net DICTionary and get in trouble, don't blame the author or Net DICTionary. The software has been tested and to my knowledge there are no damaging bugs, but I this is not a guarantee.

The Basic Word Search....

When you launch Net DICTionary, you will see a splash screen with copyright information followed a few seconds later by the Net DICTionary window.

Enter a word in the search field and press <return> or click the "define" button. Your DEFINE request is sent to the currently selected Internet DICT server. Although multiple dictionaries will be checked by the server, only the first definition is returned to you and the search stops after the first occurrence is found. The source of the definition is listed in the "source" field at the bottom of the window.

For more refined searches, see below.

Advanced Searches....

Below the search field and define button you will see two popup menus labeled "Match Strategy" and "Databases." These menu buttons are used to refine your search.

Before we discuss the function of the popup menu buttons, it is important to understand the difference between MATCH and DEFINE as defined by the RFC2229 protocol.

When you send a MATCH command to the DICT server, you will receive a listing of words and sources that meet your MATCH STRATEGY (see below). You will not receive a definition of the word. Using a match strategy allows you to determine what dictionaries contain the word definition you are seeking.

Database Popup Menu

In a normal definition search, all available databases are searched until a definition is found and the definition is displayed. Using this method, only the first definition is displayed although the definition may also be contained in other available dictionaries.

The Database Popup Menu allows you to refine your search by selecting alternate dictionaries. You have a choice of selecting :

* FIRST dictionary for which a definition is found (the default); all are searched but only the first definition is shown;

* ALL dictionary databases - all will be searched and every definition from each database will be returned;

* limit your selection to a single specific dictionary database.

The database selection applies to both DEFINE and MATCH commands. In other words, if you select a single dictionary database and select a match strategy, only that database will be searched. The default database is "FIRST".

Match Strategy Popup Menu

If you select a match strategy menu item, the DEFINE button changes to "MATCH".

Selecting a match strategy will search your selected dictionary databases for occurrences of the words matching your strategy. For example, if a match strategy of prefix for the word "particle" might yield the following:

web1913 "Particle"
web1913 "particles"
wn "particle"
wn "particle accelerator"
wn "particle beam"
wn "particle board"
wn "particle physics"

Match strategies include: exact, prefix, substring, suffix, Soundex, and Levenshtein methods.

Not all strategies are useful for all dictionaries. All DICT servers implement the MATCH command, and support the "exact" and "prefix" strategies. These are generally the most useful. Other strategies are server dependent.

The "exact" strategy matches a word exactly, although different servers may treat non-alphanumeric data differently.

The "prefix" strategy is similar to "exact", except that it only compares the first part of the word.

The "substring" strategy finds the word within a word; for example, a search on "ice" would yield "ice, mice, nice, lice, entice" etc.

The "suffix" strategy is similar to prefix except that is compares only the last part of the word.

The "soundex" and "Levenshtein (or Lev)" strategies are based on algorithms that equate to how the word sounds and are useful for correcting spelling errors; however, I have found these two strategies can yield very weird results and are not very useful.

Menu Items....


Quit - Quits the Program


Copy - standard text copy
Paste - standard text paste


Asynchronous - this mode is slower but does not hog background processes
Synchronous - faster, but hogs background processes

(Personally, I think the asynchronous mode is better because it allows you to recover if something goes wrong - but the synchronous mode can be significantly faster if you anticipate doing a lot of searches.)


Server #1 - the default DICT server available through
Server #2 - an alternate DICT server located at IP

(Two DICT servers are provided in case one is slow to respond, or does not respond. Other freely accessible servers will be added in future updates if we can find out about them. If you know of others, please let me know.)


Show Databases - shows the available databases for the currently selected server.
Show Strategies - shows the available match strategies for the currently selected server.
Show Server - provides information on the currently selected server

Thanks for using Net DICTionary!

Original file name: Net DICTionary Docs - converted on Sunday, 16 January 2000, 17:45

This page was created using TextToHTML. TextToHTML is a free software for Macintosh and is (c) 1995,1996 by Kris Coppieters