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dictionary help

How do I search for a definition?

Type the term or phrase to be defined into the search box above and click on the 'look it up' button. Enter the term as you would expect to see it written, but case (capitals or upper and lower) and punctuation (spaces, hyphens etc.) are not necessary; for example, entering gareis mason syndrome into the search box will return a definition for Gareis-Mason syndrome.

There is no special syntax for entering your search string. Don't try to use quotation marks (") or Boolean operators (+ or -), as they won't work.

If you search for an American English spelling for a term (for example, anemia), you will be redirected to the definition British English version (anaemia). For words that have American English and British English spellings, the American English version will appear at the end of the definition.

A number of dictionary entries differ only in case or punctuation, so if you simply enter lower case and no punctuation you will get more than one definition returned. For example, a search for kd will return definitions for Kd (a chemical abbreviation) and kD (an abbreviation of kilodalton).

A search for an abbreviation or acronym will redirect you to the entry for the full term. For example, searching for ESR will redirect you to a definition for the full term: erythrocyte sedimentation rate.

There are a number of other ways to explore the dictionary from the dictionary homepage. You can browse lists of words alphabetically using the A-Z feature, browse by subject, or search lists of acronyms, abbreviations, prefixes and suffixes.

It says the term I am looking for is not in the dictionary. What should I do?

Don't give up straightaway! Apart from the search box, there are a number of other ways you can search for definitions.

If there is no match returned for your search term, it might be the case that the word is misspelled. Check the list of previous and next words that appear at the foot of the page to see if the word you are searching for appears here. For example, a misspelling such as cryoblation would not return a definition, but the correctly spelled term cryoablation will appear in the list of previous and next words.

You can also try searching for a word stem; for example, if you are searching for cryoablation but are unsure of the exact spelling, a search for cryo will return a list of words starting with these letters.

Try searching for a different form of the term. Most of the terms in the dictionary are nouns, so searching for the verb suturing would not return a definition, but a search for the noun suture would.

The A-Z feature allows you to search for words by letter of the alphabet. So if you are looking for cryoablation you could visit the page of words beginning with the letter C , click on Cr and browse this list of words to find your term. You could also try browsing by subject.

If a search for a phrase doesn't return a definition, try removing some words. For example, a search for the phrase ectopic reentry tachycardia will not return a definition, but a search for ectopic tachycardia does. Searching for re-entry will return a definition that includes a reference to ectopic tachycardia.

It could simply be the case that the word you are looking for is not in the dictionary at present. If you find a term is missing, please visit the forum and tell us, so we can add the term and its definition to the dictionary. Alternatively, you can write a definition yourself and post it in the forum. We will review it for inclusion in the dictionary.

Some words are not included in the dictionary; for example, proprietary names or trade marked names of drugs or medical equipment are not listed. However, the medical dictionary does contain generic names.

How can I search for a term if I am unsure how it is spelled?

If you're not sure of the spelling, try stemming the term you're searching for. For example, if you are looking for the term hyperglycaemia , but are unsure how it is spelled, a search for hypergly will return a list of words starting with these letters, including the term you're looking for.

If you know which letter your term starts with, you can use the A-Z feature to browse word lists to find hard-to-spell terms.

If you know which subject your term is listed under, you can browse the subject lists to find words. For example, if you were searching for the term buccal nerve, but were unsure of the spelling, you could choose the medical subjects category on the dictionary homepage, click on the nerve subject and browse the list of words to find your term.

How do I use the computing, education and biographical dictionaries?

Using the search box will return definitions from all the dictionaries. For example, a search for the acronym PVC will return definitions for this term from the computing, education and medical dictionaries. At present, you cannot restrict your search to a specific dictionary; however, you can browse by subject within the different dictionaries.

How do I search by subject?

Most of the entries are classified by subject (for example, the definition for the term cancer is preceded by its subject category <oncology>), and you can choose to browse the dictionaries this way. Subject classifications are hyperlinked, so clicking <oncology> will take you to that subject page. You can access the complete list of subjects by clicking on the medical subjects link on the dictionary homepage.

Does the dictionary contain definitions for the plural form of terms?

It is usually best to search using the singular form of a term. However, for some terms there are entries for both the singular and plural forms (for example, kidney/s and ureter/s ). Searching for a plural form of a word will often take you to its singular form (searching for organisms will return a definition for organism). For terms that have irregular plural forms ( bacteria/bacterium and pons/pontes for example) the plural term is included in the dictionary.

Does it matter if I search using American English?

Dictionary terms are written in British English (anaemia) , but if you search for the American English spelling (anemia) you will still return a definition.

How should I write my search term?

You should enter a word or term as you would expect to see it written. Case (capitals and lower case) and punctuation are generally not important. More information can be found here.

Can I suggest a new entry for the dictionary?

Yes please, we would welcome suggestions for improvement or new entries. These can also be posted to the discussion board on the community forum.

Can I link to the dictionary home page?

Please do, we are always delighted if you want to link to us. Please have a look at the different methods for linking to us by visiting our linking to the dictionary page.

Can I link to an individual definition page from my web site?

No problem, information on how to achieve this is outlined in our linking to the dictionary page.

How do I add a custom search box to Internet Explorer or Firefox?

Simply follow our add search box guide, which explains (with the help of pictures) how to add custom search boxes.