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English: skills for learning
English: skills for learning

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2.2 Using an online search engine to find information about a word

As you have seen, there are many reasons for looking up a word in a dictionary and one dictionary may not provide all the information you need. For example, you may want to look at more examples in which that word is used or you may find that looking at the definition given by another dictionary can help you clarify the meaning of the word.

It is therefore useful to look up new words in more than one dictionary through a search engine. You will practise using a search engine in the next activity.

Activity 3

Timing: Allow approximately 10 minutes

In this activity you will learn how to use the search engine OneLook [Tip: hold Ctrl and click a link to open it in a new tab. (Hide tip)] to find information about a word.

Go to OneLook, enter the word ‘strategy’ in the search window, click on ‘search’ and look at the page displayed by the search engine. What kind of information does it provide?


The page provides the short version of the Macmillan Dictionary’s detailed definition of the word ‘strategy’ as well as a list of links to 65 dictionaries which also define the word. These dictionaries are classified according to their specialism: the list includes 28 general English language dictionaries, 8 dictionaries specialising in business terminology, 1 specialising in art, 3 on computing and many others.

Some of the dictionaries included in the general list may already be familiar to you. Note that the list includes both American English and British English. These two varieties of English sometimes use different vocabulary, spelling and pronunciation.

The list also includes the Cambridge Advanced Learner’s Dictionary. This dictionary is very useful to anybody who is looking for a definition expressed through simpler words and for additional grammatical information.


This search engine allows you to look up the same word in more than one dictionary. This allows you to search for more information about the word and also to look for information that is clearer to you. In addition, if you found the word in a business studies text or needed to write a business studies essay, you will be interested in the definition given by a dictionary that specialises in business terminology.