Swaroop C H

blog books about contact subscribe


25 Aug 2007

Most of my writing inside the browser is done with the combination of the It's All Text extension and Vim. During this writing, I use words whose meaning I know vaguely but don't know the exact usage, and in such cases, I usually open a new browser window and look up the meaning of the word in an online dictionary. This process of looking up the dictionary meaning was getting rather tedious, so I wrote a small Vim plugin today to do this job with a simple command.

To use the plugin, first install BeautifulSoup. Then, get my lookup.vim script and copy it to ~/.vim/plugin/.. See the new version's installation instructions, it now uses John Goerzen's dict client implementation in Python.

Next time you use Vim, just place your cursor over any word and run :Lookup, and you'll see something like this:

lookup.vim screenshot

Since, this is the only command starting with L on my Vim installation, I just end up running :L. Of course, you can always create your own keyboard shortcuts to make it easier.

Update: Based on the comments, I've updated the script to now use the DICT protocol and talks to some servers. This avoids screen-scraping, is much faster to use, allows me to now use both a dictionary and a thesaurus which is very very handy because I can see what other words I can use, and of course, doesn't violate any TOS (which screen-scraping could amount to).


Michael Watkins says:

And, if your client is *nix, you can ignore wordnet and all and simply use dict at the command line. In vim:

function! LookupDictionary()
let theword = expand("")
exec ':!dict ' . theword

" Look up a word using dict
nnoremap :call LookupDictionary()
inoremap :call LookupDictionary()

Just another WordPress weblog says:

[...] Swaroop C H, The Dreamer » Python: Lookup [...]

Swaroop says:

@Sridhar: Thanks, didn't know about that.

@Michael: Nice idea, although I tend to be on Windows too. Perhaps, there are binaries for dict on gnuwin32.sf.net

@Kartik: Should be easy :)

@Abhijit, @Chris: Enjoy!

Kartik Mistry says:

Cool. I will love to write similar plugin for GujaratiLexicon.com.

srid says:

By using wordnet, you can obviate internet connection and html scraping,

Abhijit Nadgouda says:

Good one, trying it out.

Chris says:

This comment has just been written with "It's All Text" and gvim, thanks for mentioning the former. :-)

finferflu says:

Hi, I've just donwloaded your cool plugin, but I was unable to lookup words. Then I found out that the server indicated in the code is currently not working, so I have edited it to dict.org, and I also had to change moby-thesaurus to moby-thes, this way (I hope BBCode is on):

conn = dictclient.Connection('dict.org')

output += "n".join([d.getdefstr() for d in conn.define('wn', word)]) # WordNet
output += "nn"
output += "n".join([d.getdefstr() for d in conn.define('moby-thes', word)]) # Moby Thesaurus

It would be nice if you could update the plugin on the Vim website :)

Swaroop says:

@finferflu : Thanks for pointing that out, and I've updated the plugin on the vim website :)

finferflu says:

Cool, thank you for your work :)


There's no comment box, but please do email me or tweet me your thoughts and criticisms, and I will publish the relevant ones here.