How To Find The Right Words On The Web

Once upon a time, there were dictionaries. Huge volumes on a translator’s office shelf. If you are an “old generation” translator like me, you probably started working in this industry using paper dictionaries, going to libraries, researching in books and catalogues to find the right word.

Internet changed everything, as you know. Now we can look up words in on-line dictionaries, consulting industry sites and standards on the Web. However, the Web is full of news, images, dictionaries, articles and it is not always easy to restrict research and avoid wasting time. Here are 10 Tricks of Advanced Internet Search:

1. Apart from the “classic” Boolean search commands that everybody knows, such as AND (all search terms must be present on the Web pages listed in results), OR (any of the specified search terms are present on the Web pages listed in results), NOT or  “- “, there is a series of Google search commands we can use when searching a term in Google that may be very useful for translators.

2.       site:

You can search a word in a specific site. E.g. I need to look for the expression “high yield bonds” in the site of a specific investment fund.

Example=  “high yield bonds”

Of course, quotation marks are necessary for long expressions. Google will list all the pages containing “high yield bonds” in the Web site of this company or investment fund.

3.       intitle:

The word specified must be in the Web site title.

Example=           intitle: ECB

Google will find the homepage of the European Central Bank, probably Wikipedia and other news that show ECB in the title of the page. Therefore, the word ECB is very relevant in the search.

 4.       define:

I can find the definition of the word.

Example=           define:spread

Google will probably list first a Merriam Webster definition, then a Wikipedia definition, but also financial newspapers where you can find a definition of “spread”.


5.       related:sitename


You will find other search engines similar to, e.g. yahoo, bing, etc. The same goes for other types of companies and industries.


Google’s “Advance Search” page: Google has also an advance search page where you can specify country, language and date. This is particularly useful when you are searching recent documents about one subject. You can then select “any date” or only “last month”, or documents in a specific timeframe and get time-based results.

Do not forget that you can search the Web but also choose in the Google menu:

7.       Images

This is useful especially for terminology. If you type in “solar panels” in the Google Search, you will find articles and web sites about solar panels. However, if you select IMAGES in the Menu or use this link, you will find only solar panel images. If you have to understand how a machine works or maybe what it is, you will find explanatory pictures!

solar panel

8.       News

The same goes with news about a specific subject. For example, if you look for “ECB” in you will find the most recent articles about this subject. You may also specify English or Italian, if you like to read news in a certain language.


9.       Video

Let’s say you want to become an expert on something, maybe you want to know the secrets of success in 3 minutes. If you select Video in the menu, Google will list only videos about that particular subject. This could be useful for education and training purposes.

10. Last but not least, you will always get wildcard suggestions by typing in a full phrase. Translators can find suggestions about common expressions.


Try them! And please let me know if there are more search commands that you have experimented and which could be useful for translators!


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