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Spell Catcher is also a miniature Webster’s, giving you instant definitions for nearly 80,000 English words. In general, using the definitions dictionary works exactly like using the thesaurus-the definitions and the thesaurus features are built into the same window. In other words, you can look up a definition in any of three ways:
You can look up a word you’ve just typed into a document (provided Interactive Checking is turned on). For example, suppose you’ve just typed my little chickadee, but you’re not quite sure what, in fact, a chickadee is. In this case, stop after typing the word, and then choose “Look Up ‘chickadee’” from the Input menu. When the window appears, learn that a chickadee is a “small grayish American bird” by checking the References lists’ Dictionary Definitions checkbox.
If you haven’t been typing choose Look Up Selection, from the Input menu. In the window that appears, check the Dictionary Definitions checkbox, type the word you want to look up, and then press Return (or click the Look Up button). Spell Catcher now displays the definition, if it knows one.
You can also look up the definition for any word that’s already been typed into any document- which can be extremely useful when you’re corresponding with intellectuals by e-mail. Highlight the word in your document, and then choose Look Up Selection from the Input menu. Once again, when the window opens, click Dictionary to find out what the word means.
If you use the dictionary definitions more frequently than the thesaurus, you can configure Spell Catcher to show its definitions screen (instead of or in addition to the synonyms page) whenever you use a Look Up command. Doing so saves you the step of clicking in the References list. To set up this arrangement, see “Customizing the Look Up Features” at the end of this chapter.
In Spell Catcher, a definition consists of several parts:
The part of speech. This indication, such as noun, verb, adjective, pronoun, adverb, and so on, tells you what grammatical function your word serves. The part of speech will be followed by other forms of the word, such as plurals for nouns or tenses for verbs.
The definitions. If a word has more than one meaning, they’re listed-and numbered-in order of usage frequency.
Other forms. At the bottom of the window, you may find other forms of the word you looked up- that is, beneath the definition of certain appear cer*tain*ly, cer*tain*ty, and cer*tain*ties, along with their parts of speech. The * symbol shows you where the syllables are broken-useful when, for example, you’re trying to decide where you should hyphenate a word in your document.
Once the Look Up window is showing you a definition, you can proceed in any of several ways.
At any time while the window is open, you can retrace your steps-use the pop-up menu at the top left of the Look Up window to jump back to any previous definition.
On the off chance that you find a word in the definition that you like better than the one you originally looked up, click Replace. Spell Catcher pastes the currently selected word (the one in the Look Up text box) into your document.
If you’d like to hear the Look Up results in the Mac’s computer voice, click the Microphone button or choose Speech -> Start Speaking from the Edit menu.
You can drag highlighted text from the definitions window into your document window-which is useful when carrying on a debate by e-mail with fellow word nerds. Did you really mean to say that you were featured at last week’s rodeo riding a filibuster? According to my dictionary, a filibuster is “a long speech to delay a legislative vote!”
As with any of Spell Catcher’s functions, you can change some of the behavior of the Look Up window.
In the Look Up window’s References list (click the “References” icon to open the drawer if it is not currently visible), mark which references you wish used by clicking their checkboxes. The References are in categories and you can click the disclosure triangle to display the references in each category.
You can re-order the main Look Up reference categories by dragging the top-level item. If you want the Thesaurus results shown before the Dictionary results, drag the Thesaurus item to the top of the list.
Display Font Panel. Using the Font Panel (click the “A” icon), you can specify what type size and typeface you want the Look Up window results to use.
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