As reported this morning by Mashable, Google "has offered word definition via the define:word search query for quite some time now" but now has "quietly rolled out" its own dictionary, which can be found at google.com/dictionary.
Google's dictionary includes definitions in 28 languages and also includes related phrases and aggregated definitions from other Web services like Wikipedia. As noted by Mashable, "similar services such as Dictionary.com or Answers.com surpass Google's dictionary when it comes to features, offering a thesaurus, synonyms, and definitions from specialized sources such as medical and scientific dictionaries … [however] Google's aggregation feature makes its service a good starting point, even if it's not the best dictionary out there."
It will be interesting to see whether Google's new dictionary can become a resource for patent prosecutors and litigators in the future. Presently, Google's dictionary only appears to offer "current" definitions of terms and, at least as of yet, has no service that shows how definitions have changed over time. Such a service would be useful to practitioners looking for specific definitions at particular points in the past. However, to those practitioners wanting to get a general sense of what a specific term may presently mean, Google's dictionary could be a "good starting point" given its aggregation feature. Hopefully, Google's aggregation feature can eventually expand into including medical, scientific, and other dictionaries so it can become a better resource.
Do you plan on using Google's dictionary or other online dictionaries in your practice? Please send any comments to email@example.com.