You’ve long been able to use Google to make sure that word you want to use actually means what you think it means, but the search engine just got one step closer to replacing your dictionary. From now on, Google’s word search results will include synonyms, sample sentences, and some description of the word’s etymology.
The more detailed results even include a chart demonstrating how commonly the word’s been used over time. A small menu also gives you the chance to quickly translate the word into other languages, and you can tap on the microphone on the search bar to hear the results spoken aloud.
The service is undoubtedly going to be useful for consumers and definitely lead to speedier answers when you really need to know facts about a word. But word scholars will point out that Google’s not necessarily making it clear where it’s sourcing this information from, and that it thus risks becoming an incorrect de facto source of “truth” on some words’ meanings. That’s important when the origins and even correct uses of some words are disputed. The move may also be challenged by well known dictionary brands, many of which have online portals that are now rendered less useful by Google.