Verbatim: The Dictionary, Evolved for the Web

The simple, unassuming dictionary. Those of us old enough to remember schlepping them around in the 'old days' tend to have mixed emotions about them. On one hand, they were an incredibly useful tool- they gave us the definition of any word we cared to know.

On the other hand, they were monstrous, heavy, and cumbersome.

Things, as they say, have changed.

Most of us do our reading online, and while some of us still keep a trusty dictionary close by, it's not the most convenient — or efficient — of methods.

Enter Verbatim. Verbatim is a simple bookmarklet that, when clicked, opens a sidebar in the page you're viewing. When you highlight a word and click the resulting question mark that pops up, Verbatim lists the definition of that word in the sidebar. Simple.

Verbatim saves your history, so if you come back to the same article later, you'll see your list of lookups in the sidebar.

Here's where things get interesting: logging into your Verbatim account (which is not required to use the bookmarklet) not only saves your word history, but your article history as well. A dashboard on the Verbatim website will show you both word and article history, allowing you to leave a trail of proverbial breadcrumbs. There are many ways in which this might be useful, but using the service as a tool for research seems the most obvious answer.

The goal of Verbatim is to increase reading comprehension, much as its paper counterpart would do, but they also want to improve writing by allowing publishers to add a script to their site, giving readers quick access to Verbatim and providing publishers with analytics to those readers.

For now, Verbatim is only available as a bookmarklet, but expect to see Firefox, Chrome, and Safari extensions to be available soon.


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