Google Further ‘Defines’ Search

Baffled by bling-bling? Perplexed by prairie-dogging? Confused by carcooning? Google can help.

The search engine powerhouse has introduced a glossary feature to troll the Web for definitions. The Mountain View, Calif., company says its particularly well-suited for slang and newer terms such as “search engine,” that are likely to appear online before they do in print.

The technology was developed by Google Labs, a unit dedicated to new technology, and has been in testing for 18 months. International versions will be introduced in coming months.

“(A search command) emerges from testing when we feel it’s ready for prime time,” a Google spokesman told internetnews.com. “Certainly, the quality and reliability have to be there.”

Users type the word “define,” then a space, and the word or phrase they want defined into the Google.com search pane. If Google has seen a definition on the Web, it retrieves and display it on a results page. The commands “what is” and “definition” also work.

Results are highlighted as “Web Definition” followed by the text of the Web-generated definition. If Google finds several entries, users are presented with a link to a complete list.

Google still has a deal with dictionary.com to provide its content. On the results page, users can click on the word they entered in the blue results bar and access the dictionary.com definition.

Of course, rival search engines routinely include definitions as part of their results. And there are other sites specializing in slang and new terms, including Urban Dictionary, which allows users to submit their own words, and Word Spy, which compiles and defines words and phrases popping up in the media.

Earlier this year, Word Spy ran afoul of Google’s intellectual property lawyers who wanted to be sure when people “use ‘Google,’ they are referring to the services our company provides and not to Internet searching in general.”

Lawyers weren’t as upset with the definition as they were the lack of mention of the corporate entity. Word Spy’s editor modified the entry by inserting trademark information, which satisfied Google.