There are many words out there, as you may have noticed. Long words, short words, a thousand synonyms and antonyms for each one of them, leaving you feeling confused and a little bit illiterate. Luckily, whether you’re browsing the Internet, reading a PDF or working in a Word or Google Docs document, it’s actually quite easy to look up words by definition on your PC.
While this article is focusing on Windows 10, most of the methods used are applicable for various operating systems
Look Up Word Definition in Chrome, Edge and Firefox
Most of the reading you do on your PC is probably in your web browser. The good news is that all the major browsers have extensions that you can install, letting you look up any word you read with a simple double-click.
In Chrome, your best bet is Google Dictionary, which when installed will let you look up the dictionary definition of any word with a simple double-click.
As a nice addendum to that, there’s an extension for this extension (an exten-inception, if you will) called Flashcards, where a little “Save” option appears when you double-click words, letting you save the words then test yourself on them using flashcards in your own time.
Now that Microsoft Edge has moved over to Chromium, you can also get the above extensions for the browser from the Chrome Web Store, while Firefox’s answer is the extension Define-It.
Look Up Word Definition in a PDF
Now that we’ve covered option for when you’re browsing the Web, let’s look at some options for when you’re reading a PDF document.
If you have one of Adobe’s PDF readers, such as Acrobat Reader DC, you can just double-click a word in a PDF document, then select “Look up [word]”. This will open the word’s definition at Dictionary.com in your default browser.
The PDF viewer in Chrome or Edge sadly doesn’t work with the Dictionary extensions, and to define a word you’ll need to double-click it, then click “Search the web for [word]”, which will direct you to your browser’s default search engine and tell you the definition.
Look Up Word Definition in Word or Google Docs
The two most popular word processing software at the moment is Microsoft Word and Google Docs, both of which have their own word-definition tools integrated into them.
To look up a word definition in Google Docs, you can either right-click the word and then click “Define [word]”, or, if you lean toward keyboard shortcuts, select the word, then click Ctrl + Shift + Y.
In Microsoft Word you can look up a word definition by right-clicking the word, then clicking “Look Up [word]” in the context menu. Or, as a shortcut, hold the Alt key on your keyboard, then just regular left-click the word.