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Google Search adds sorting for dictionary definitions by topic

When you’re looking to define a word quickly, Google Search’s dictionary feature often comes in handy. Pulling its data from Oxford‘s Lexico service, users often look to Google for fast, reliable definitions. But because the English language is so complex and flexible, some words have come to have many definitions that are difficult to distinguish. Google has added a filter to the dictionary card in Search that remedies this, allowing users to sort the definitions by topic.

Words that are used across multiple disciplines will have a list of topics above their definitions on both desktop and mobile. By default, all definitions are shown, and you can tap through the list to filter the results. When the user sees this UI for the first time, they’re greeted with a small pop-up encouraging them to look through each category.

It’s unclear as to how each definition is categorized, as the definitions provided by Oxford do not have topics assigned to them. Google may be using certain words to flag that a definition pertains to a certain topic, like “athletic” for sports or “musical” for music.

Google Search showing the dictionary sort feature on desktop.

In any case, the feature proves particularly useful for horrible words like “set,” which has four main definitions and hundreds of uses. Google splits this word into a whopping 22 different categories, from Art to Surgery and even to… Bellringing?

The Google dictionary definition for "set," which lists 22 different topics.

These past few months have seen Google put a lot of effort into its linguistic features in Search, including bringing synonyms to the forefront and even helping users learn to pronounce new words. With these recent additions, Google Search’s age-old dictionary feature has greatly increased in its handiness, and it rightfully remains the tool of choice for many in getting sound definitions quickly.

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