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The content on dictionary.com is clear and comprehensive... once... it... finishes... loading.

It's even slow if I disable advertising, plus I prefer not to do so as I appreciate that ad-revenue may be important for the services I use.

As I type, it's still loading. I'm giving up...

What's the fastest (reasonably detailed) dictionary app on the web?

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Definr...the site's title says it all. :) –  Matt Peterson Sep 30 '10 at 21:01
Uses Wordnet, which isn't all too recent or contentful. –  digitxp Oct 2 '10 at 2:28

13 Answers 13

up vote 6 down vote accepted

Try thefreedictionary.com with print layout.

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This seems the best combination of speed and content. Thanks! –  Ian Mackinnon Oct 1 '10 at 22:04

Merriam Webster. Can also be accessed using this short URL: http://m-w.com

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Word pages load all kind of junk including a video, which starts streaming automatically! But the content loads first and fast so +1 :) Thanks! –  Ian Mackinnon Sep 30 '10 at 15:37
I agree that the m-w videos are irritating, but I really do think this site gives the best definitions (from what I've tried). –  TM. Sep 30 '10 at 19:59

Well, if you're not into huge definition lists or synonyms, Google Translate translates instantaneously. Like, really fast.

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For that matter, plain old Google Search will give you a dictionary definition on single-word queries (assuming it's a real word). With Google Instant active you probably can't get anything faster. –  Al E. Sep 30 '10 at 15:48
generally I use it for fairly obscure words and am after a phonetic guide and etymology. A few choice quotes for example use can also be very helpful. Also on the connections where I am even "instantaneous" isn't that fast :) –  Ian Mackinnon Sep 30 '10 at 16:20

Have you tried Wiktionary? Same caveats and advantages as Wikipedia and should be pretty darn fast.

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I second this recommendation. Wiktionary is a pretty good resource, and very speedy. –  Noldorin Sep 30 '10 at 18:10
I find Wiktionary invaluable for foreign language study, but when looking up English words I find it too full of foreign words :) –  Ian Mackinnon Oct 1 '10 at 22:08
@Ian Mackinnon: So don't look up the foreign words (-; –  hippietrail Apr 8 '11 at 13:43

Google Dictionary seems to be good & fast.

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though imperfect. It is based on statistical analysis, which may give wrong results at times. –  Nathan Fellman Sep 30 '10 at 21:58

I love wordnik. It's fast, covers many obscure words, the examples(usage) are very good. It also has an API. It's brilliant I think.

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Ninjawords's tagline is:

A really fast dictionary... fast like a ninja.

For comprehensive and relatively fast, try The Free Dictionary. Tagline:

The world's most comprehensive dictionary

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That is eerily fast. Not massively comprehensive, but it does flip out and kill dictionary.com. –  Ian Mackinnon Oct 1 '10 at 22:02

If you don't need a full dictionary but just a short definition, Google with define: in the URL.


If you do need a full dictionary, Google Dictionary has already been mentioned.

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Surprised no one has mentioned the meta dictionary tool:


It is fast, gives you a short definition, but also looks up the word in 100s of other dictionaries.

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If you use Chrome, you can do a couple of things:

  1. Perhaps you already know about it, but use the Google Dictionary extension. With that, you simply double click on a word and meaning pops up.

  2. Next, what I've done is completely minimized Merriam Webster and dictionary.com using the Stylebot (stylebot.me) extension. That way, they feel a lot less intrusive and also feel faster.

Here is custom CSS I use for both:

dictionary.reference.com: gist.github.com/587652
merriam-webster.com: gist.github.com/606237

PS: I couldn't post more than one hyperlink since I'm new here, so excuse me for lack of proper reference links.

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You mentioned you're looking for an etymological dictionary. In that case, http://www.etymonline.com/ is probably your best bet.

Note that with Firefox and Opera, you can set up a custom search, which saves you having to visit the homepage of the site. If you set up ed, for example, as your custom search keyword, you can just type ed dictionary into the address bar, and be taken directly to the results page.

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Vocabulary.com's Dictionary is blazing fast. It calls itself the world's fastest, smartest dictionary and I think they are right.

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