Install Webster’s dictionary on OS X

The results OS X’s dictionary return are, as James Somers puts it, “pedestrian”:

The way I thought you used a dictionary was that you looked up words you’ve never heard of, or whose sense you’re unsure of. You would never look up an ordinary word — like example, or sport, or magic — because all you’ll learn is what it means, and that you already know.

Indeed, if you look up those particular words in the dictionary that comes with your computer – on my Mac, it’s the New Oxford American Dictionary, 3rd Edition – you’ll be rewarded with… well, there won’t be any reward. The entries are pedestrian.

Somers’ solution is to replace the default OS X dictionary with a version of Webster’s, albeit an old, out-of-copyright one.

When you relaunch the Dictionary app, chances are you will find the spacing is not quite right. Somers recommends the following adjustments:

  • p { line-height: 0.7em }
  • div.y { margin-top: 0.7em; margin-bottom: 0.7em; }

I had to set the paragraph line-height to 1.2em to get it to look right.