Offline dictionaries and thesaurus

I am a writer in my own right. And I’m not as prolific as those professed to be. So everytime I am confronted with the task to write something in English, whether work related or not, I need a lexicon at my disposal. (Actually, I want a handy dictionary because I’m also fond of learning English words on regular basis.)

I need a dictionary and thesaurus because I sometimes feel not convinced with my choice of words, or dissatisfied with my use of common terms.

Thankful am I for I am a Linux user, or Ubuntu user, for that matter. Even when I am not connected to the Internet, I got offline word references that come in handy, not like that one seen in the image here. For Ubuntu users who may be unaware, you may install any or all of the following packages:

  • dict-gcide – A Comprehensive English Dictionary
  • wordnet – electronic lexical database of English language
  • dict-moby-thesaurus – Largest and most comprehensive thesaurus
  • dict-jargon – Jargon File 4.4.4
  • dict-vera – V.E.R.A. – A Dictionary of Computer Related Acronyms

A description of dict-gcide:

This package contains the GNU version of the Collaborative
International Dictionary of English, formatted for use by the
dictionary server in the dictd package.  The GCIDE contains the
full text of the 1913 Webster’s Unabridged Dictionary, supplemented by
many definitions from WordNet, the Century Dictionary, 1906, and many
additional definitions contributed by volunteers.

The definitions in the core of this dictionary are at least 85 years
old, so they can not be expected to be politically correct by
contemporary standards, and no attempt has been, or will be, made to
make them so.

This package will be of limited use without the server found in the
dictd package, or another RFC 2229 compliant sever.

A description of wordnet:

WordNet(C) is an on-line lexical reference system whose design is
inspired by current psycholinguistic theories of human lexical
memory. English nouns, verbs, adjectives and adverbs are organized
into synonym sets, each representing one underlying lexical
concept. Different relations link the synonym sets.

WordNet was developed by the Cognitive Science Laboratory
( at Princeton University under the
direction of Professor George A. Miller (Principal Investigator).

WordNet is considered to be the most important resource available to
researchers in computational linguistics, text analysis, and many
related areas. Its design is inspired by current psycholinguistic and
computational theories of human lexical memory. English nouns, verbs,
adjectives, and adverbs are organized into synonym sets, each
representing one underlying lexical concept. Different relations
link the synonym sets.


When you install these packages, the dictd package (dictionary server) is automatically installed as well. There are GUI applications for having access to the words like gdict and kdict. But terminal or console lovers, be consoled. You can always find a word by using this command: dict 'word'.

Unfortunately, unlike before, wordnet is no longer part of the output for dict command. You’ll have to issue a separate command for wordnet: wn 'word' -over. Nevertheless, if you still want wordnet to be part of the word lookup output, do this:

  1. Open a terminal.
  2. Create a bash script that includes the following:

    dict $1 > .word
    wn $1 -over >> .word
    less .word

  3. Save the script to dic.
  4. Change mode of the script to executable (chmod +x dic).
  5. Move the script to your scripts directory, for reference’s sake.
  6. Create a symbolic link of the file to any bin directory: /usr/bin/ or ~/bin.

dic is now your alternative to dict command, and it will now issue a more complete output, already integrating wordnet-based information.

Thanks free and open source software (FOSS) because writers are assured of their freedom of thought and expression through the use of these dictionaries.

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