The Sage English Dictionary

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[Note: this review was co- written by Pcfreakske2000 from Belgium.]

The Sage is an English dictionary and thesaurus application that runs in the background to be used on-demand using a hotkey from any application for instant word lookups. The Sage does not need an internet connection to look up the words; they are stored locally for easy access.

Imagine that you are working with an application (say, a word processor or browser) and that you needed to get a quick definition for a word (or a synonym, or a usage example).

With “The Sage” all you have to do is press a hotkey (CTRL-Shift-A by default) to immediately view all the language reference information you need for the word in question. Here are some notes on this program:

  • The user interface: “The Sage” employs an interesting, hierarchical-tree structure whereby clicking on color-coded nodes produces different kinds of information on the word you are looking up. For example, clicking the red node will display the Thesaurus, green nodes will display usage examples, and blue nodes will display the same hierarchical structure for different parts of speech for your entry (e.g. as noun, verb, adjective, etc.) The interface is a bit unusual at first but is in fact quite practical and I got the hang of it very quickly.
  • The reference database: comprises more than 145,00 reference with over 200,000 multiple detailed definitions and approx. 35,000 usage examples.
  • Services provided: aside from definition and thesaurus lookups, provides wildcard word search and finding and solving anagrams. Will also display synonyms, antonyms, hypernyms, hyponyms, meronyms, holonyms, and nearly 1,200,000 relationships between definitions. It provides “Encyclopedic information (geographical, historical, political)” as well as “academic knowledge (medicine, biology, etc.)
  • Portable: can be used straight from a USB drive.

Pros: what I like about this program:

  • Small download and easy to install. The program works fine and starts up fast
  • Easy interface and quick lookups and displaying the results instantly in the program’s interface.
  • Works from within (almost) any application.
  • It’s easier to have a desktop application on your computer rather than to go to a dictionary website every time you want to look up a word.
  • Takes only 6 megs of memory – compare this to, say, Mobysaurus, another favorite of mine which takes up a whopping 36 megs. (With Mobysaurus you get larger, multiple reference libraries and both an online and offline component, but, I think, at a much higher resource cost to justify it).
  • If the word being looked up is misspelled (and therefore unrecognizable) , it will show you a list of near or similar words to choose from.

Cons: None that I can think of.

  • One thing I might mention is that if you want a similar program that consumes even lower resources you can check out WordWeb. This latter program takes about 1 meg in memory but is not as nice as “The Sage” in my opinion and many functions which “The Sage” offers are only provided in the paid version of WordWeb (it does have an online component though, which is nice).

The bottom line: if you are looking for an easy to access English dictionary application that is light on resources this is the one. Unlike other similar applications, you don’t need an internet connection to access the dictionary, and it can even be run from a USB drive. The interface is nice and easy to work with. The lookups are fast and deliver the results right into the interface.

Version tested: 1.4

Compatibility: Windows 98, ME, 2000, XP; no info on VISTA.

Go to the download page to get the latest version (approx 8 megs). Also visit the program home page.