Lost for words? Try Google define.

My masters thesis deadline is less than a month away and so I am in full writing mode. All stops are out and I need efficient access to the choicest vocabulary to describe a year of hard research.

Lot’s of clients I see are in the same boat and for years I have been referring them to a handy Google trick called “define”, as well as using it a lot myself.

It’s a really simple case of opening a Google search bar and typing “define” followed by your word of choice. What you get is box containing a series of definitions, example sentences, and, best of all, synonyms.


What makes this better than a dictionary you ask? In a word: Efficiency, and that is exactly what you need when in mid-flow writing up your work.  If you want to use a word and be sure of it’s meaning, a quick Google define search is much faster than looking it up in a dictionary, and much clearer on the page, which is appreciated on a library graveyard shift.

But the clickable synonyms are also great for getting out of tighter knots; beating repetition for example. Consider:

“Managing the team was a complicated task, complicated further by the complicated social politics between members.”

A quick google search later and we have:

“Managing the team was a tricky task, complicated further by the intricate social politics between members.”


It can also be fun to consider some of the more exotic suggestions, depending on how extravagant you are feeling.

Another handy use is when paraphrasing information from source material. As well as changing the word order you can change some of the key words themselves to alternatives with similar meaning. Just Google the word in question and you have an arsenal of alternatives at your disposal so you can really make the phrasing your own.

Lastly, for me this feature really comes into it’s own when you have the tip-of-the-tongue dilemma: you know what you want to say, but can’t quite find the word you need.Here the clickable synonyms are really useful, allowing hot and cold experimentation with words until you find what you are looking for. For example:

“It was set to be a long night in the library, but she was determined to …oh, what’s that word again? Continue? Sort of but not quite.”

*Googles define continue*

Synonyms include: sustain; persist; commence

“Persist? Warmer, but not quite.”

*Clicks persist. Google automatically searches define persist.*

Synonyms include: endure, persevere…

“PERSEVERE! That’s it.”

“It was set to be a long night in the library, but she was determined to persevere.”

Such a process would take much longer using a Thesaurus. Google define allows you to juggle a whole bunch of words and try on multiple until you get a good fit.

So there. A handy tool that you may like to use or recommend. Have a play with it.