10-step guide to the dictionary
Type - search - finished. Anything else?
As the headline suggests - looking up a word could not be easier. If required, the special character support lets you enter characters that you may not have on your keyboard. Apart from that, all you need to do is type your word(s) and press Enter or click the magnifying glass icon and voilà, you will see your search results.
However, you can do much more than that with the dictionaries. Here's a ten-step guide on how to use all the features in the LEO dictionaries.
- Dictionary selection: How do I switch between dictionaries?
- Search elements: How can I change the search direction? How can I quickly enter the next search term(s) without using the mouse? How can I filter results?
- The search results page: Possible base forms, parts of speech, links to forum discussions - what other sections can I find on the results page?
- Search results: What happens when I search for an inflected word? What is the sorting criterion behind the order of results? Why does LEO only show a limited number of results when, in fact, more translations are available?
- Results - key of icons: How and where can I hear the entries being pronounced? Where can I save noun/verb tables? How do I add words to my vocabulary trainer? Where can I find additional information for an entry?
- Looking up a string of words: If you want to look up idioms, phrases, sayings and the like, you can of course enter the complete string of words in the search field. You should have no trouble finding a translation for your search terms, providing the phrase/saying is in the dictionary.
- Results - Additional information: Did you know that you can check the stroke order for Chinese characters? And that a wealth of information about meaning, inflection, etymology, etc. awaits you behind the i-icons?
- Power search - Search in a text: This is an option that allows you to look up words in a whole text quickly withought having to switch between your browser and your document. For example, you could copy a newspaper article into the text search field and read the article on LEO, clicking the words you do not know to find out what they mean in your target language.
- Power search - Tools for browsers: apart from manually typing or copying words in the search field, LEO offers a number of tools that allow quicker dictionary reference.
- More than a dictionary - interact with the community, build up your vocabulary and improve your language skills: mere consumption of information is all very well and good - but on LEO, you also have the possibility to ask other members questions or actively work on improving your language skills, either with the help of other users or with learning material from LEO or one of its partners.
You can change the dictionary in three, or if your screen resolution is higher than 1,260 pixels, four different places (see Fig. 2). In addition, the available language pairs are shown on the start page of the dictionary before you start using the dictionary .
Let's take a close look at all search options (from left to right and top to bottom):
- The flags and the languages named in between the flags indicate your chosen dictionary, the green arrows indicate your search direction for which the default is bidirectional (<->). You can change the search direction if you click (near) the arrows: Click once and you will see a right-pointing arrow which means the dictionary will look up a translation of your search term(s) into German, click again and the arrow will point left which means the dictionary is set to offer translations of your search term(s) from German into English or one of our other languages, and a third click should bring up both arrows again which means you are back to the default setting.
- Here is where you can switch to the forum or trainer pages of the selected language pair.
- If you click one of the little flags above the search field you can switch to a different dictionary and look up the translation for your search term(s) in a different language.
- When entering your search term(s), you can type everything lowercase, leave out accents and use replacements for umlauts and ligatures (ä = ae, ß = ss). You can use asterisks as placeholders for prefixes or suffixes (e.g. 'Eingabe*', '*verhalten') and you can also look up inflected forms if you do not know the base form of a word (e.g. 'suchte').
Simply start typing to enter your new search term(s) in the search field even if the focus is not on the search field and the contents of the search field are not highlighted. The cursor will be placed in the search field as soon as you start typing.
- The link 'Search in a text' opens a bigger search field where you can look up words in a whole text without having to manually type or copy your search term(s) , see xxx.
- You can change the order of results and list technical vocabulary before basic vocabulary or vice versa, as well as apply certain search criteria.
- The link 'Search tips' takes you to a page with a detailed explanation of everything to do with looking up words in LEO.
Structure of the search results page
The page with the results for a search term is split into the following parts (from top to bottom):
- Links to the individual categories (nouns, verbs, etc. ) within the dictionary.
- Optional: possible base forms for the search term, cf. Step I, Wechsel
- Search results sorted into categories according to part of speech (nouns, verbs, etc.).
- Buttons to allow you to post a query in the forums on your search term(s), manage your vocabulary (see Step xxx), or look at your search history.
- Orthographically similar words to help you if you got a letter wrong and meant to look up a different word.
- Links to forum discussions containing the search term(s) in the title or the discussion itself.
Let's take the results for the word "suchen" in the French dictionary as an example.
- In principle, each category lists direct matches for the search term(s) first (if available, in this case 'das Suchen'), regardless of whether the word you are looking up is interpreted as an inflected word (the noun 'Suchen' is also the plural of 'die Suche') or an infinitive (verb 'suchen'). All other possible word forms appear further down (in case of the noun: results for 'die Suche', the singular of 'die Suchen').
- The order in which the results are listed within a category usually depends on how frequently the word is used. Alternatively, the order is alphabetic (this is usually the case for technical entries).
- The number of direct matches per category has been limited so that entries from all categories can be seen at a glance without it being necessary to scroll too much. Where a search yields a large number of hits in one or more categories, only the most important entries are listed at the top (cf. the explanations in 1 and 2), all following entries may need to be loaded by clicking (at worst repeatedly) 'Show more ... '
Looking up a string of words
- As well as looking up single words, you can also enter whole phrases or idioms in the search field.
- In general, the order of categories in the dictionary may change depending of which categories contains the most matches for your phrase.
- If your phrase contains an inflected word that is different to a word in the LEO entry that best fits your search, you will still get a match. In other words, you can search for a phrase containing the word ließor lässt but if LEO actually contains a matching phrase with lassen, the entry will be found via the base form for your words. So if you're not entirely sure about the exact wording of a saying or idiom, LEO will still try to match your search and provide relevant results.
Results: Icons and their functions
You may come across the following icons in the results table: . . . .
- The disk icon lets you add the entry to your personal vocabulary in the vocabulary trainer (for details see Step xxx).
- The info icon gives you access to additional information related to (both sides of) the entry (definitions, etymology, conjugation/declension tables, etc.). For details please see Step xxx.
- The table icon opens up conjugation tables for verbs (available for German, French, Spanish, Italian, Portuguese, Russian, Polish) and declension tables for nouns (German, Russian) and adjectives (German, Russian). The tables are constantly being expanded.
Inflection tables for English verbs and nouns as well as for Roman nouns and adjectives are currently not available as these are formed according to relatively straightforward rules. Declension tables for Polish nouns and adjectives will follow as soon as possible.
- The play button provides sound files for entries that have been recorded by native speakers of the LEO team. Sound files for entries which have not yet been recorded are provided by Linguatec (these are computer-generated files and are opened in a blue window). If you experience problems with the audio files please open the test page, try the different sound files and select a player that works for you.
Results: additional information
The additional information menu which opens by clicking the -icon, offers links to conjugation tables and other online dictionaries.
- In the Chinese dictionary, for example, you can check the stroke order for Chinese characters (click 'Expandierte Strichfolgen' or 'Animierte Strichfolgen' in the additional information menu; the left-hand side of figure 9 shows the stroke order for the first character of the entry).
- Apart from links to DWDS (for German definitions) and canoonet (German inflection), the information menu also contains links to LEO's inflection tables (verb tenses, plural forms, etc.).
Power search: Look up words in a text
You can look up words in a whole text without having to manually type or copy each individual word you don't understand in the search field:
- Click the link below the search field called Search in a text.
- Delete the highlighted information by pressing the 'Del' key on your keyboard and paste your text.
- Click on a word in your text. You will receive a list of possible translations.
- You can change to the normal search field by clicking the link Search single word and return to Search in a text without loosing any of your previously entered text.
Power search: Tools for browsers
As shown in the figure on the left, several tools for various browsers are available to make looking up words even quicker and easier. Please find the list of available tools in the Toolbars and Apps menu at the top of the dictionary page or by clicking this link[->to this effect<-]
More than a dictionary - improve your language skills in the forums or with the help of the vocabulary trainer
The LEO dictionaries are complemented by a forum feature as well as a Vocabulary trainer The forums contain a growing number of discussions on a multitude of language-related topics, the vocabulary trainer is a great tool to improve your language skills. You can either collect your own vocabulary or learn wordlists and access language exercises provided by LEO or one of our partners. Separate user guides are available for the forums and vocabulary trainer. To actively participate in the forums or use the vocabulary trainer you need to be logged in (see user guide for "My LEO" ). Registration as well as the use of the forums and vocabulary trainer are free of charge.
Clicking the icons or buttons mentioned below, you may be asked to log in.
- Click the disk icon to add an entry to your personal vocabulary.
- Your search term(s) may also return a list of possibly related forum discussions which can be found at the bottom of the page (see also Step 3) . Where this is not the case and you need help with the translation of a word or phrase, you can start a new discussion in the forums.
- If you wish to allocate your recently saved entries to a specific wordlist, the button below the results table provides quick access to the relevant place in the vocabulary trainer. However, if you want to allocate entries that you have not saved on that day, you will need to go to the vocabulary trainer and click "Edit word lists".