How to Use the Dictionary Service

1. How to use the Dictionary Service

The Dictionary Service allows you to search across multiple dictionaries of your choice. Let's look at what needs to be clicked, selected, and typed in to use the Dictionary Service. Please follow the numbered descriptions in Figure 1.


Figure 1. Overall flow of operations for using the Dictionary Service.

1. On your screen you will see two title bars, Search and Select Dictionary. First, go to the Select Dictionary panel at the bottom and choose a dictionary or several dictionaries you wish to search by clicking the green dictionary button. The dictionary button will turn red when clicked to indicate that it has been selected. Clicking the red button will unselect the dictionary (the button will return to green).

Placing your cursor on the dictionary button will prompt an information box to appear. The box displays information about the dictionary such as its name, supported language pairs and URL. If you are unsure which dictionary to use, place your cursor over the dictionary button to obtain information regarding the dictionary.

You can select all dictionaries by checking the "Select All" box. Unchecking the "Select All" box will unselect all dictionaries.

2. Once the desired dictionary or dictionaries are selected, move up to the Search panel and type a search word inside the text field on the left.

3. After typing the search word, move to the right and choose a word-matching method by selecting a method from the "Matching Method" pull-down menu. There are four types of word-matching methods: partial, complete, prefix, and suffix. For example, if the search word is apple, the following words or phrases will be matched using the following method:
  • - complete: apple
  • - partial: pineapple juice
  • - prefix: apple pie (also a partial match)
  • - suffix: pineapple (also a partial match)

4. After a word-matching method has been selected, move to the right and select the source language or the search word language by selecting a language code from the "From" pull-down menu.

5. Selecting the source language will automatically display possible target languages. Note that the target language depends on the supported language of the selected dictionary. If a dictionary text handles multiple languages, multiple target languages will be displayed. When multiple target languages are displayed, you can select the desired target languages by checking the corresponding target language code checkbox.

6. After the target languages are selected, you are ready to search. Click the "Search" button to start the search.

2. How to interpret the Dictionary search results

A search result using the Dictionary Service is shown below (inside the red box). Three search results matching the word agent (A, B, and C in red and white) are retrieved from three dictionaries (numbers 1, 2, and 3 in red and white). All three dictionaries handle only the English-Japanese language pair, so searching on the English word gives results in Japanese (ja) only. Notice that no matching result was found on Multilingual Dictionary for Kyoto Tourism (number 4 in red and white) for a search on the word agent.


Figure 2. Japanese definitions for the English word agent are retrieved from three dictionaries.

3. The advantages of the Dictionary Service and how to best utilize it

The Dictionary Service allows you to easily search across multiple dictionaries on a single search. Not only can you save time by searching multiple dictionaries on a single search (rather than go through different dictionaries individually and repeat the same search again and again), but you can also compare the search results among different dictionaries. For example, some dictionaries may contain more abundant information than others on some topic; the dictionary with abundant information may be the one you should use when working on that topic. Some dictionaries may give specific explanations on particular words that other dictionaries do not mention, so you will know you need to take care when using that word in some context. For some words, different dictionaries will carry different explanations, showing you that the same word has different meanings across different domains. You can also search across multiple dictionaries to check for the predominant meaning of the word if the word has multiple definitions; in that case, the dictionaries are used as votes in a voting scheme.