Wordnik’s New Word Page: Related Words

by Angela Tung on July 13, 2011

You probably noticed that last month we launched a redesigned word page, and that our new pages include an expanded Related Words section.

What do we mean by “related words”?  Synonyms, hypernyms, hyponyms, words used in the same context, a reverse dictionary, and tags. But what does all of that mean?

Here’s the top of the word page for tree:

Click on Relate and you’ll be taken here:

First up are synonyms, or words with the same or similar meaning, for instance, timber and sapling.

You’ll also find hypernyms, otherwise known as superordinates, or words that are more generic or abstract than the given word.  The prefix hyper- means “over, beyond, overmuch, above measure,” so you can think of a hypernym as a sort of umbrella over more specific words.  A hypernym for tree might be flora.

Hyponyms, or subordinates, are words that are more specific than the given word (the prefix hypo- means “under, beneath”).  Simal, coralwood, kingwood, and willow are specific types of trees (hey, that would make a great list!).  Same context refers to words that might be used in a similar context, such as wood, grass, garden, and branch. (One could argue that branch is also a meronym, or “a term that names part of a larger whole,” for tree.) We use the great resource WordNet for much of our hyponym and hypernym data.

The Reverse Dictionary section lists words that contain the given word in their definition. Tags are anything you might want to tag the given word and Tagging lists words that have been tagged with the given word.

We’d love your feedback as you explore our new Related Words section!

Leo July 14, 2011 at 12:58 pm

This is a very useful feature. Thanks!

John July 27, 2011 at 5:28 am

Clearly a lot of the entries are not related at all. Can you explain a bit about how the lists were generated?

Erin McKean July 27, 2011 at 5:09 pm

Thanks John! Anything in the synonyms, antonyms, hypernyms, or hyponyms sections is drawn from traditional sources, such as Roget’s or Wordnet (the definitions searched for the reverse dictionary come from traditional sources, too). Same-context words are determined statistically, and the tags are entered by fellow Wordniks.

Sometimes the connections (especially for the hyper- and hyponyms) can be fairly abstract.

I hope this helps!

John August 25, 2011 at 8:54 pm

Thanks for clarifying, Erin!

I’m wondering, though: do some of those hyper- and hypo- relations really exist?

How is “actor” a hypernym for “tree”? Is there some abstract relation I’m missing there?

How about “locust”? Is that really a kind of tree I’ve never heard of? Or is just mistakenly listed as a hyponym?

Thanks again.

Erin McKean August 26, 2011 at 2:23 pm

Thanks John! Locust is a kind of tree (http://www.wordnik.com/words/locust: Any of several similar or related trees, such as the honey locust or the carob.)

Tree and actor … that’s harder. :-) There was an actor (Sir Herbert Beerbohm Tree) who is represented as an entity in Wordnet, which is the source of some of our relationships.

I hope this helps!

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