Lexicography is not what it used to be. In place of the valiant scribe of former times who spent twenty years over a thousand works patiently documenting the riches of the language, word by word, sense by sense, usage by usage, we now have computer-assisted lexicographers, equipped with their infallible software tools, their indefatigable computers and their infinite memories. With the power of computers and the boundless reach of their networks, lexicographers today have no trouble searching through billions of words. They can massage them at will, calculate frequencies, establish distributions and co-occurrences. They no longer have to hunt for a few attested occurrences; they now sort through masses of them!
At Druide, our interdisciplinary team of lexicographers and computer scientists has benefited enormously from these modern resources, allowing us to scour the Internet and countless digital documents, without neglecting traditional sources, in order to create Antidote’s dictionaries. The result is a wealth of 110,000 entries, which paints a broad portrait of the English language today and which form the basis of the dictionaries in Antidote.
In fact, Antidote comprises multiple dictionaries, all of whose entries are displayed within a unified interface. Whether it be for definitions or synonyms, combinations or semantic fields, Antidote’s dictionaries offer a lexical reference work of unparalleled richness, variety and consistency.
Because they are so easy to consult, these dictionaries will entice you to discover the boundless treasures of English. Click on any word in any field of any dictionary, and you will be logically led to additional information. You will find yourself flitting from one word to another and from one dictionary to the next, simply by clicking on whatever piques your curiosity. With Antidote, you can effortlessly meander through the fascinating skein of links between words, going from senator to senile, from shirt to skirt, and from skates to stilts.
The computer’s agility makes it so much easier to explore the language. Enter two words and Antidote’s multi-word search will list all the associations between them, including the expressions in which they appear, their combinations and their synonyms. Use the wildcard characters to find the words that will help you complete your crossword puzzle. Combine up to fourteen criteria in any way you like to generate the most diverse lists, including rhymes, subject fields and source languages, producing results that are often surprising.
Finally, because the computer has become the crucible for our texts, the integration of Antidote’s dictionaries within the programs we use to write is of critical importance. Thanks to this integration, the dictionaries can be invoked effortlessly wherever and whenever the need arises. All these important features of Antidote’s dictionaries—their richness and consistency, powerful search and ease of consultation—open up vast new possibilities for everyone who writes.
The Dictionary of Definitions and Expressions
In appearance, the dictionary of definitions looks like an ordinary dictionary, providing a description in everyday language for each of its entries. There are definitions for more than 110,000 words, including 28,000 proper nouns, the names of countries, major world cities, famous people and UNESCO World Heritage sites.
The definitions are clear and precise, and describe the various meanings of each word. The main senses and sub-senses are organized and presented in a tree structure, which makes it easier to pick them out. Examples are provided for each sense of a word, illustrating and clarifying how it is used. Domain labels situate the word’s meaning within the specialized vocabulary of the corresponding field (medicine, architecture, finance, etc.). Usage labels indicate the register of language to which the word belongs (formal, informal, slang, etc.), or the region in the English-speaking world where it is used (Canada, the United States, the United Kingdom, etc.). Indeed, particular attention has been paid to the description of regional variants, as for example toque in Canadian English, thongs in Australian English, and hoagie in American English.
The entry for each word displays all its inflected forms (singular/plural, comparative/superlative), its phonetic transcription, its etymology, and any alternative spellings along with their respective frequency. A frequency index is provided for each word; it indicates the relative frequency of the word in our corpus, which is described below. The population figures for cities and countries come from recent censuses, particularly those found on the sites GeoNames.org and PopulationData.net.
Finally, the definition of each common noun, each proper noun and most fixed noun-phrase expressions includes a link to the corresponding article in the Wikipedia online encyclopedia (for which an Internet connection is required). The content of the Wikipedia article is displayed within the Antidote dictionary window, for easy reading. Antidote 10 also provides smart links to other high-quality external resources, such as Google Maps and TERMIUM Plus®. You can even add your own links as you see fit.
Expressions, Idioms, Phrasal Verbs and Proverbs
Because they are part of a word’s immediate environment, expressions appear right below the definitions and are classified into four groups: expressions, idioms, phrasal verbs and proverbs. Links allow direct access to each.
In addition to single words, idioms are an important part of the lexicon. An idiom is a fixed group of words forming a lexical unit that has a precise meaning. Some are figurative expressions, while others constitute specialized terminology.
Everyday language is full of figurative expressions, which may seem nonsensical when interpreted literally (a red herring, bury the hatchet). To understand the expression’s conventional meaning, one must consult a dictionary.
Specialized expressions, such as the term heavy water in chemistry, denote entities that are specific to various fields of knowledge. These are also numerous and are often opaque to non-specialists.
Antidote includes 50,000 common idioms, specialized expressions, phrasal verbs and proverbs, each provided with its own definition and illustrative examples. Domain labels indicate the area in which the specialized expressions are used. Senses are organized in distinct groups, making it easier to locate words and expressions of polysemous words. To find the definition of a given expression, simply look up one of its key words. For example, you can find the meaning of the idiom bury the hatchet by looking up either bury or hatchet. Or you can enter the complete expression directly and Antidote’s multi-word search will produce it readily.
Antidote’s listed expressions include 500 proverbs, which are included in their own section following the idioms. These are easy to locate thanks to the search-by-criteria function.
The Dictionary of Synonyms
Synonyms are another area in which Druide’s lexicographers have been able to take advantage of the power of computers. Antidote includes close to 1.5 million synonyms for 60,000 entries.
Our main goal here was to allow you to quickly find the synonym you are looking for. For this, three things are required: the lists of synonyms have to be rich, well structured, and immediately accessible.
Seeking the right balance between feast and famine, we built up rich lists of synonyms while ensuring that all remain relevant. We then classified the synonyms by meanings and sub-meanings, all of which are clearly labelled. Continuous text display allows you to see more synonyms at once. Thanks to a clever use of colour, the appropriate meaning can be quickly spotted, allowing you to rapidly zoom in on the desired synonym.
Nor have we limited ourselves to words. Antidote systematically includes multiword expressions, since they do constitute bona fide synonyms and are often perfectly appropriate, such as grab a bite for eat, or title holder for champion.
We have also included the hyponyms and hyperonyms of thousands of nouns. Hyponyms are synonyms that have a more specific meaning, like greyhound for dog, whereas hyperonyms are synonyms that have a more general meaning, like mammal for dog. Together, hyponyms and hyperonyms form a true taxonomy of the language, a family tree of words that you can browse as you please.
Furthermore, Antidote’s synonyms are not confined to formal language, but draw on all registers and regional dialects. You will find as many informal synonyms as literary ones, and synonyms that are used in all areas of the English-speaking word, e.g. sheila, we learn, is an informal synonym for young girl in Australia, whereas bird might be used for the same notion in the UK, and chick might be used in the US (although the latter two are somewhat impolite). Of course, each of these “deviations from the standard or neutral form” is appropriately marked (UK, informal, etc.).
Another new and useful feature is that Antidote allows you to carefully select the right word by examining the full definition of each suggested synonym: just click on the word and its definition appears right beside it. No pages to turn, no windows to manipulate.
The Dictionary of Antonyms
One of the elementary operations of thought and reasoning is the comparison of contrasting concepts. The simple mention of a given word often means that one with an opposing meaning is not far away.
This is the value of having an antonyms dictionary at your fingertips. Antidote offers a rich inventory of the contrasts and opposites that a word can evoke. The exact nature of these contrasts, of course, varies greatly, which is why Antidote’s antonyms are grouped according to sense and context. Whether you are comparing the romantic to the platonic or to the unsentimental or cynical, your antonyms are presented accordingly. Boasting over 100,000 antonyms, this dictionary is the ideal tool for your inner contrarian!
The Dictionary of Combinations
Words, like people, do not exist in a vacuum; it is only through their association with others that they take on their full meaning. Antidote’s dictionary of combinations provides a comprehensive inventory of word associations. Refresh one’s memory, a dazzling display, tender care—in all, there are 700,000 such word combinations that exemplify the lexical associations which help give the language its particular colour.
To create this enormous compilation, we put our computers to work in two ways. First, we scoured the Web to build a corpus of close to five billion words, or 235 million sentences, drawn from many different sources. Among these are news sites such as The Washington Post, The Guardian and The Globe and Mail, as well as digital libraries such as Booksie and Project Gutenberg.
We then extracted the most interesting associations from this huge corpus. We isolated the nouns and their modifiers, verbs and their complements, adjectives and their adverbs, and other such grammatical relations. A statistical filter allowed us to retain the most salient combinations, i.e. those that are significantly frequent and distinct.
The resulting combinations were first classified by meaning whenever one of the words was polysemous, and then by syntactic role: modifiers, subjects, complements, etc. In addition, we chose to display each combination in full, with its most frequent determiner and inflected form, as for example love at first sight, a mother’s love, and love of one’s country. The result is an ordered list that is complete and easy to read.
In order to illustrate each combination, we developed a heuristic to select example sentences in accordance with various criteria. Nearly 700,000 sentences from our corpus were extracted, providing on average more than two examples for each combination. The examples are displayed in a column on the right when a combination is selected, and they help to understand its meaning and use. Alternatively, you can also examine the definitions of the combining term.
Throughout the entire process, our linguists diligently reviewed the data to ensure that what was retained was both relevant and accurate. They also filtered out many instances of inappropriate or improperly formulated examples, problems that our automatic extraction heuristic could obviously not evaluate.
To help you find the perfect adjective for a given noun, the most suitable verb or the most evocative adverb, the dictionary of combinations, with its unique perspective on the language from the associative angle, will quickly become an indispensable aid.
The Dictionary of Semantic Fields
A semantic field is a set of words whose members are linked together semantically. Antidote’s dictionaries already include several links of this type, e.g. combinations and synonyms. The dictionary of semantic fields goes further by bringing together the existing links and completing them with others.
To create this dictionary, we took our cue from the method previously employed for our combinations dictionary. Using our five billion-word corpus, we identified the words that appear most frequently in the vicinity of another. We restricted the analysis to nouns, adjectives and verbs, which convey most of the meaning in a sentence.
The resulting dictionary of semantic fields offers an overview of each word’s lexical landscape. Or rather, two overviews, because the results are displayed in two ways: on the one hand, in a standard vertical list, and on the other, in an interactive word cloud. In the list, the results are grouped into three levels: first, by the meaning of the headword, if it is polysemous; then by category, so that the members listed are more cohesive; and finally, by statistical strength within each category. In the word cloud, the size of each word is proportional to the strength of its link to the headword. In both cases, a click on a word displays its semantic field in turn, allowing for easy navigation among related concepts.
Unlike combinations, two words do not have to be in a syntactic relationship in order to be considered neighbours. Consequently, certain words that appear in a semantic field may occasionally raise questions. Nonetheless, each included element does indeed occur frequently in the headword’s environment.
Semantic fields are often used in teaching to help students discover related vocabulary or to expand the range of their ideas. The two views of semantic fields provided by our dictionary are designed with these goals in mind.
The Conjugation Dictionary
Conjugation in English is simpler than in many other Indo-European languages. English verbs don’t have nearly as many inflected forms as they do in French, for example. However, this does not mean that English grammar is any simpler than that of other languages: grammatical categories such as tense, person or mood are equally important in English, even if they do not systematically cause the form of a verb to change. Without context, the verb form eat, for example, could be in the infinitive, the first-person present indicative, or a number of other categories. Yet in certain categories, its form does change (ate, eaten, etc.).
In order to avoid potential mistakes, understanding why you are using the right form of a verb is just as important as using it. For example, in the sentence “It is necessary that he go”, the form go — and not goes, went, etc. — is used because the verb is in the third-person present subjunctive.
Perhaps because of the relatively limited variations in verb form, traditional English grammar resources have not typically included complete conjugation information by grammatical category. Antidote, unconstrained by the limits of paper reference material, provides a comprehensive set of tenses, moods and persons along with their corresponding forms. Auxiliaries for compound forms are also listed (e.g. have in the past perfect have eaten), as is the progressive aspect. This information is displayed clearly and intuitively in the form of a table, which can be expanded to show all conjugations, or condensed to display only the main ones.
Naturally, you can still rely on the corrector to spot any conjugation mistakes, but checking the conjugation dictionary can help you to learn, verify and compare in far greater depth. In all, over a million conjugations for over seven thousand verbs are just a mouse click away!
The Dictionary of Word Families
Some groups of words which may be far apart in terms of alphabetical order are nevertheless closely related from a morphological and semantic point of view, like write, rewrite, unwritten. Learning new vocabulary would be much easier if these “broken families” could somehow be reunited.
That is what Antidote’s dictionary of word families sets out to do: group together words that have a common morphological root and which all revolve around a common meaning. Some members are formed by derivation, in the way that the adjective unwritten is derived from the verb write; others, by composition: the noun watch-glass combines the words watch and glass. Of the 13,000 morpho-semantic families we have been able to assemble, some of the particularly larger ones attest to the rich derivation system of the English language.
The Dictionary of Quotations
There is no better way to grasp the subtleties of how a word is used than being able to observe examples of the word as it is employed in context. That is the purpose of the dictionary of quotations, which provides 300,000 example sentences, none of which are drafted by lexicographers but rather are all drawn from literary and journalistic texts. This dictionary offers up to fifteen quotations per word. The literary quotations appear first, presented in chronological order, followed by newspaper quotations. Each is accompanied by a hyperlink reference, which allows you to access the original website from which the quotation was taken.
The quotations are more linguistic in nature than literary. They have not been selected for their moral or poetic value, but because they clearly illustrate the way a word is actually used. The corpus that was assembled to develop the dictionary of combinations was put to use here again, which ensures that the quotations exhibit a large measure of temporal, geographic and stylistic diversity.
The Historical Dictionary
The birth of the English language is generally situated around the mid-seventh century. The oldest literary documents written in Old English, the language of the Anglo-Saxons, are dated from this period. Descended from Proto-Germanic and greatly influenced by Old Norse, Norman French and Latin, English slowly but surely came into its own, frequently borrowing from its neighbours and invaders, such as for the words government (from Anglo-French and Classical Latin), want (from Old Norse), tobacco (from Spanish and Arabic) and camera (from Late Latin and Ancient Greek), in addition to creating its own words (work, night, hand…). The spelling and the current meaning of English words are the product of this long evolution. Antidote’s historical dictionary tries to summarize this process in an original way, shedding light in so doing on the richness of contemporary English.
The historical dictionary describes the etymology of almost 75,000 words; over a hundred of the more remarkable entries also include detailed notes. It also showcases all the etymological relationships of each word. By cross-referencing our etymological data, we were able to display all the words derived from the same etymon in a simplified tree structure, which sometimes yields surprising connections, like discovering that the words shirt and skirt both derive from the same Proto-Germanic root. Antidote contains over 1.8 million etymological links, and they paint a detailed historical portrait of the English language.
The historical dictionary is supported by a special guide, tracing the evolution of English and describing the processes by which new words are created. Moreover, in the corrector, the etymology filter allows you to trace first-hand the genealogy of your texts, language by language, word by word.