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Word visualiser help

word visualiser help

What is the word visualiser?

The word visualiser is an amazing (and beautiful) tool, which lets you explore the meanings of words and the relationships between them. It can be used as a thesaurus of related and alternative words. The visualiser creates a network of 'synsets' from the search term entered. A synset is a concept that is represented by a number of other terms or synonyms. Take a look at the example below.

In this example, the term hypertension has been searched for, and the word visualiser has created a synset of terms related to the concept of hypertension.

Does the word visualiser contain all the words in the medical dictionary?

The word visualiser contains words from Princeton University's WordNet opensource database. Although it contains some medical terms, it is not as comprehensive a source of technical terminology as the mondofacto medical dictionary.

How do I search for a term in the word visualiser?

Type your search term into the search box and click the arrow or press return. A search term can be either a single word or a phrase. The tool is not case-sensitive, so don't worry about using upper-case letters. The results of your search will appear on the screen below the search box. If the term you are searching for is not included in the word visualiser, the word will simply appear on the screen with no definition.

You can right-click on the screen and drag to move around the page, and use the mouse wheel to zoom in and out. Double clicking on some terms will expand them further. So, in the example above, I can double click the term hypotension to create a synset for this term.

How do I interpret my search results?

The visualiser gives a set of synonyms (words with similar meanings) for a search term. So, for example, a search for the term explore will return synonyms such as research, map, diagnose, investigate and look into. The coloured spheres around each word tell you what type of word that is: blue spheres are nouns, green spheres are verbs, peach spheres are adjectives and pink spheres are adverbs.

Terms are linked by different types of lines that give you information about how terms are related. For example, hypernyms and hyponyms are linked by blue lines. If you try a search for dog, you will see that various breeds of dog are shown as hyponyms. Dog is the hypernym and poodle, pug, puppy etc are all hyponyms for this term. The broken arrows that also indicate hypernym/hyponym pairs are used to show hyponyms that are specific and unique instances of a hypernym. For example, a search for biologist will show that Louis Pasteur is "an instance of" this term (biologist is the hypernym and Louis Pasteur is the hyponym).

The relationships between holonyms (words that name a whole) and meronyms (words that name part of a larger whole) are also illustrated in the word visualiser. For example, a search for carbon will display coal and limestone as substances made from this element (carbon is the holonym and coal and limestone are meronyms). A search for dolphin (holonym) will show that this animal is a member of the Dephinidae family (meronym).

The word visualiser illustrates other types of relationship too; the key at the bottom of the page will help you make sense of these. The best way to get the most out of the visualiser is simply to have a go!