When I started using Ubuntu, one of the first things I wanted to get was a dictionary. While my English language is good enough, it is still not my first language and often I find myself looking up the meaning of new words that I come across.
On Windows, I have been using WordWeb for as long as I can remember. I needed something equally effective and accessible for my Ubuntu setup. An app called “Artha” fit the bill perfectly.
Personally, Artha is precisely what I was looking for. From having an interface that resembles closely that of WordWeb to supporting the same hotkey shorcut that WordWeb offers by default, Artha really made me feel as if I was home (at least when I was looking up word meanings). When you install the application and open it, a simple interface lets you type in the word that you want to look up. The meanings of the word are shown along with sample usages where clarification is felt necessary. The bottom pane of the application provides a list of words that correspond to synonyms, derivatives, similar words, entailing words, and other kinds of words – all entries that are relevant to the word you have looked up.
What I was surprised to find is that I began liking Artha more than WordWeb – a dictionary I have loyally used for at least 3 years. Perhaps what contributed to this fact was Artha’s support of miscellaneous ‘encyclopedia’ entries. In other words, if you type in a popular name, place, or event, Artha will display its details to you. Take a look at the screenshot below: it shows the app’s results when you type “Jackson” into it.
The synonyms section and other tabs in the bottom pane display relevant ‘encyclopedia’ entries.
Finally, the hotkey shortcut: you can access the app’s settings to have the hotkey shortcut appear. As with WordWeb, the hotkey shorcut is Ctrl+Alt+W. You can use this shortcut to make the app appear. If you have already highlighted a word before using the shorcut, the meaning of that particular word will be displayed in the window.
There is one minor flaw with the application though: it does not let you start at system startup. Or there is no innate option to do this, anyway. You can always add the app to Ubuntu’s startup applications yourself. The reason you would want to do this is: the hotkey shortcut opens the app window only if the app process is already running in the background.
With the app added to your startup list of programs, Artha really does because an absolute joy to use on Ubuntu. I use it every day and today I finally decided to take some time out and share its benefits with all of BlogsDNA’s Ubuntu users. You can get the application using the following installation command from the Terminal:
$ sudo apt-get install artha
And there you have it: Artha – perhaps the best dictionary application for Ubuntu.