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WiktionaryEn - DP Derivative.svg
English Wiktionary logo
English Wiktionary Main Page.png
Main Page of the English Wiktionary on January 14, 2019
Type of site
Online dictionary
Available in Multilingual (162 active) [1]
Owner Wikimedia Foundation
Created by Jimmy Wales and the Wikimedia community
URL wiktionary.org
LaunchedDecember 12, 2002;19 years ago (2002-12-12)
Current statusActive

Wiktionary ( UK: /ˈwɪkʃənəri/ WIK-shə-nər-ee, US: /ˈwɪkʃənɛri/ WIK-shə-nerr-ee, rhyming with "dictionary") is a multilingual, web-based project to create a free content dictionary of terms (including words, phrases, proverbs, linguistic reconstructions, etc.) in all natural languages and in a number of artificial languages. These entries may contain definitions, images for illustration, pronunciations, etymologies, inflections, usage examples, quotations, related terms, and translations of terms into other languages, among other features. It is collaboratively edited via a wiki. Its name is a portmanteau of the words wiki and dictionary . It is available in 186 languages and in Simple English. Like its sister project Wikipedia, Wiktionary is run by the Wikimedia Foundation, and is written collaboratively by volunteers, dubbed "Wiktionarians". Its wiki software, MediaWiki, allows almost anyone with access to the website to create and edit entries.


Because Wiktionary is not limited by print space considerations, most of Wiktionary's language editions provide definitions and translations of terms from many languages, and some editions offer additional information typically found in thesauri.

Wiktionary's data is frequently used in various natural language processing tasks.

History and development

Wiktionary was brought online on December 12, 2002, [2] following a proposal by Daniel Alston and an idea by Larry Sanger, co-founder of Wikipedia. [3] On March 28, 2004, the first non-English Wiktionaries were initiated in French and Polish. Wiktionaries in numerous other languages have since been started. Wiktionary was hosted on a temporary domain name (wiktionary.wikipedia.org) until May 1, 2004, when it switched to the current domain name. [lower-alpha 1] As of July 2021, Wiktionary features over 30 million articles (and even more entries) across its editions. [4] The largest of the language editions is the English Wiktionary, with over 7.2 million entries, followed by the French Wiktionary with over 4.5 million and the Malagasy Wiktionary with over 1.7 million entries. Forty-three Wiktionary language editions contain over 100,000 entries each. [lower-alpha 2]

The use of bots to generate large numbers of articles is visible as "growth spurts" in this graph of article counts at the largest eight Wiktionary editions. (Data as of December 2009
) Wiktionary growth.png
The use of bots to generate large numbers of articles is visible as "growth spurts" in this graph of article counts at the largest eight Wiktionary editions. (Data as of December 2009)

Many of the definitions at the project's largest language editions were created by bots that found creative ways to generate entries or (rarely) automatically imported thousands of entries from previously published dictionaries. Seven of the 18 bots registered at the English Wiktionary in 2007 [lower-alpha 3] created 163,000 of the entries there. [5]

Another of these bots, "ThirdPersBot," was responsible for the addition of a number of third-person conjugations that would not have received their own entries in standard dictionaries; for instance, it defined "smoulders" as the "third-person singular simple present form of smoulder." Of the 1,269,938 definitions the English Wiktionary provides for 996,450 English words, 478,068 are "form of" definitions of this kind. [6] This means that even without such entries, its coverage of English is significantly larger than that of major monolingual print dictionaries. Merriam-Webster's Third New International Dictionary of the English Language, Unabridged, for instance, has 475,000 entries (with many additional embedded headwords); the Oxford English Dictionary has 615,000 headwords, but includes Middle English as well, for which the English Wiktionary has an additional 34,234 gloss definitions. Detailed statistics exist to show how many entries of various kinds exist.

The English Wiktionary does not rely on bots to the extent that some other editions do. The French and Vietnamese Wiktionaries, for example, imported large sections of the Free Vietnamese Dictionary Project (FVDP), which provides free content bilingual dictionaries to and from Vietnamese. [lower-alpha 4] These imported entries make up virtually all of the Vietnamese edition's contents. Like the English edition, the French Wiktionary has imported approximately 20,000 entries from the Unihan database of Chinese, Japanese, and Korean characters. The French Wiktionary grew rapidly in 2006 thanks in a large part to bots copying many entries from old, freely licensed dictionaries, such as the eighth edition of the Dictionnaire de l'Académie française (1935, around 35,000 words), and using bots to add words from other Wiktionary editions with French translations. The Russian edition grew by nearly 80,000 entries as "LXbot" added boilerplate entries (with headings, but without definitions) for words in English and German. [7]

As of July 2021, en.wiktionary has over 791,870 gloss definitions and over 1,269,938 total definitions (including different forms) for English entries alone, with a total of over 9,928,056 definitions across all languages. [8]


Wiktionary has historically lacked a uniform logo across its numerous language editions. Some editions use logos that depict a dictionary entry about the term "Wiktionary", based on the previous English Wiktionary logo, which was designed by Brion Vibber, a MediaWiki developer. [9] Because a purely textual logo must vary considerably from language to language, a four-phase contest to adopt a uniform logo was held at the Wikimedia Meta-Wiki from September to October 2006. [lower-alpha 5] Some communities adopted the winning entry by "Smurrayinchester", a 3×3 grid of wooden tiles, each bearing a character from a different writing system. However, the poll did not see as much participation from the Wiktionary community as some community members had hoped, and a number of the larger wikis ultimately kept their textual logos. [lower-alpha 5]

In April 2009, the issue was resurrected with a new contest. This time, a depiction by "AAEngelman" of an open hardbound dictionary won a head-to-head vote against the 2006 logo, but the process to refine and adopt the new logo then stalled. [10] In the following years, some wikis replaced their textual logos with one of the two newer logos. In 2012, 55 wikis that had been using the English Wiktionary logo received localized versions of the 2006 design by "Smurrayinchester". [lower-alpha 6] In July 2016, the English Wiktionary adopted a variant of this logo. [11] As of 4 July 2016, 135 wikis, representing 61% of Wiktionary's entries, use a logo based on the 2006 design by "Smurrayinchester", 33 wikis (36%) use a textual logo, and three wikis (3%) use the 2009 design by "AAEngelman". [12]

Criteria for ensuring accuracy

To ensure accuracy, the English Wiktionary has a policy requiring that terms be attested. [13] Terms in major languages such as English and Chinese must be verified by:

  1. clearly widespread use, or
  2. use in permanently recorded media, conveying meaning, in at least three independent instances spanning at least a year.

For less-documented languages such as Creek and extinct languages such as Latin, one use in a permanently recorded medium or one mention in a reference work is sufficient verification.


As of October2022, there are Wiktionary sites for 186 languages of which 162 are active and 24 are closed. [1] The active sites have 32,206,546 articles, and the closed sites have 339 articles. [14] There are 6,734,539 registered users of which 5,327 are recently active. [14]

The top ten Wiktionary language projects by mainspace article count: [14]

LanguageWikiGoodTotalEditsAdminsUsersActive usersFiles
1English en 7,202,4748,348,48269,518,5811083,985,9002,10922
2French fr 4,543,3874,894,09230,860,21534336,6125066
3Malagasy mg 1,754,1801,811,60729,250,722210,16893
4Chinese zh 1,250,9491,866,0817,390,4328107,745771
5Russian ru 1,216,9332,664,72912,646,91714286,208231144
6German de 1,062,0541,234,9009,322,11216218,363188104
7Spanish es 914,761970,0295,082,6628145,8438814
8Serbo-Croatian sh 911,603916,4721,469,82637,509103
9Swedish sv 852,092893,7453,811,9241452,617601
10Dutch nl 833,1071,115,2824,575,395852,657707

For a complete list with totals see Wikimedia Statistics: [15]

Critical reception

Critical reception of Wiktionary has been mixed. In 2006, Jill Lepore wrote in the article "Noah's Ark" for The New Yorker, [lower-alpha 7]

There's no show of hands at Wiktionary. There's not even an editorial staff. "Be your own lexicographer!", might be Wiktionary's motto. Who needs experts? Why pay good money for a dictionary written by lexicographers when we could cobble one together ourselves?

Wiktionary isn't so much republican or democratic as Maoist. And it's only as good as the copyright-expired books from which it pilfers.

Keir Graff's review for Booklist was less critical:

Is there a place for Wiktionary? Undoubtedly. The industry and enthusiasm of its many creators are proof that there's a market. And it's wonderful to have another strong source to use when searching the odd terms that pop up in today's fast-changing world and the online environment. But as with so many Web sources (including this column), it's best used by sophisticated users in conjunction with more reputable sources.[ citation needed ]

References in other publications are fleeting and part of larger discussions of Wikipedia, not progressing beyond a definition, although David Brooks in The Nashua Telegraph described it as "wild and woolly". [17] One of the impediments to independent coverage of Wiktionary is the continuing confusion that it is merely an extension of Wikipedia. [lower-alpha 8]

The measure of correctness of the inflections for a subset of the Polish words in the English Wiktionary showed that this grammatical data is very stable. Only 131 out of 4,748 Polish words have had their inflection data corrected. [18]

As of 2016, Wiktionary has seen growing use in academia. [19]

Wiktionary data in natural language processing

Wiktionary has semi-structured data. [20] Wiktionary lexicographic data can be converted to machine-readable format in order to be used in natural language processing tasks. [21] [22] [23]

Wiktionary's data mining is a complex task. There are the following difficulties: [24]

There are several parsers for different Wiktionary language editions: [25]

Examples of natural language processing tasks which have been solved with the help of Wiktionary data include:

"Wikidata:Lexicographical data" was started in 2018 to provide structured data support to Wiktionaries. It stores word data of all languages in a machine readable data model, under a dedicated "Lexeme" namespace in Wikidata. As of October 2021, the project has amassed over 600,000 lexeme entries of various languages. [48]

See also


  1. Wiktionary's current URL is www.wiktionary.org
  2. Wiktionary total article counts are here. Detailed statistics by word type are available here .
  3. The user list at the English Wiktionary identifies accounts that have been given "bot status".
  4. Hồ Ngọc Đức, Free Vietnamese Dictionary Project. Details at the Vietnamese Wiktionary.
  5. 1 2 "Wiktionary/logo", Meta-Wiki, Wikimedia Foundation.
  6. [Translators-l] 56 Wiktionaries got a localised logo
  7. The full article is not available on-line. [16]
  8. In this citation, the author refers to Wiktionary as part of the Wikipedia site: Adapted from an article by Naomi DeTullio (2006). "Wikis for Librarians" (PDF). NETLS News #142. Northeast Texas Library System. p. 15. Archived from the original (PDF newsletter) on June 5, 2007. Retrieved April 21, 2007.
  9. E.g. compare the entry structure and formatting rules in English Wiktionary and Russian Wiktionary.
  10. Quotations are extracted only from Russian Wiktionary. [34]
  11. If there are several IPA notations on a Wiktionary page – either for different languages or for pronunciation variants, then the first pronunciation was extracted. [40]
  12. The source code and the results of POS-tagging are available at https://code.google.com/p/wikily-supervised-pos-tagger

Related Research Articles

<span class="mw-page-title-main">History of Wikipedia</span>

Wikipedia began with its first edit on 15 January 2001, two days after the domain was registered by Jimmy Wales and Larry Sanger. Its technological and conceptual underpinnings predate this; the earliest known proposal for an online encyclopedia was made by Rick Gates in 1993, and the concept of a free-as-in-freedom online encyclopedia was proposed by Richard Stallman in 1998.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Natural language processing</span> Field of linguistics and computer science

Natural language processing (NLP) is a subfield of linguistics, computer science, and artificial intelligence concerned with the interactions between computers and human language, in particular how to program computers to process and analyze large amounts of natural language data. The goal is a computer capable of "understanding" the contents of documents, including the contextual nuances of the language within them. The technology can then accurately extract information and insights contained in the documents as well as categorize and organize the documents themselves.

Rebol is a cross-platform data exchange language and a multi-paradigm dynamic programming language designed by Carl Sassenrath for network communications and distributed computing. It introduces the concept of dialecting: small, optimized, domain-specific languages for code and data, which is also the most notable property of the language according to its designer Carl Sassenrath:

Although it can be used for programming, writing functions, and performing processes, its greatest strength is the ability to easily create domain-specific languages or dialects

Word-sense disambiguation (WSD) is the process of identifying which sense of a word is meant in a sentence or other segment of context. In human language processing and cognition, it is usually subconscious/automatic but can often come to conscious attention when ambiguity impairs clarity of communication, given the pervasive polysemy in natural language. In computational linguistics, it is an open problem that affects other computer-related writing, such as discourse, improving relevance of search engines, anaphora resolution, coherence, and inference.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">MediaWiki</span> Free and open-source wiki software, used by Wikipedia

MediaWiki is a free and open-source wiki software. It is used on Wikipedia and almost all other Wikimedia websites, including Wiktionary, Wikimedia Commons and Wikidata; these sites define a large part of the requirement set for MediaWiki. It was developed for use on Wikipedia in 2002, and given the name "MediaWiki" in 2003. MediaWiki was originally developed by Magnus Manske and improved by Lee Daniel Crocker. Its development has since then been coordinated by the Wikimedia Foundation.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Wikimedia movement</span> Global community of contributors to Wikimedia Foundation projects

According to the Wikimedia Foundation, the Wikimedia movement is the global community of contributors to the Wikimedia projects. This community directly builds and administers the projects. It is committed to using open standards and software.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Vietnamese Wikipedia</span> Vietnamese language Wikipedia

The Vietnamese Wikipedia is the Vietnamese-language edition of Wikipedia, a free, publicly editable, online encyclopedia supported by the Wikimedia Foundation. As with other language editions of Wikipedia, the project's content is both created and accessed using the MediaWiki wiki software. The Vietnamese Wikipedia's primary competitor is the Encyclopedic Dictionary of Vietnam, a state-funded encyclopedic dictionary also available online.

Data exchange is the process of taking data structured under a source schema and transforming it into a target schema, so that the target data is an accurate representation of the source data. Data exchange allows data to be shared between different computer programs.

Linguistic categories include

<span class="mw-page-title-main">DBpedia</span> Online database project

DBpedia is a project aiming to extract structured content from the information created in the Wikipedia project. This structured information is made available on the World Wide Web. DBpedia allows users to semantically query relationships and properties of Wikipedia resources, including links to other related datasets.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Swedish Wikipedia</span> Swedish language edition of Wikipedia

The Swedish Wikipedia is the Swedish-language edition of Wikipedia and was started on 23 May 2001. It is currently the fourth largest Wikipedia by article count with its 2,554,703 current articles, it has a Wikipedia article depth of 16.38. A majority were generated by Lsjbot, a bot, or software application. The administrators on the Swedish Wikipedia are elected for a fixed-term period of one year and have to be re-elected after that time.

The Ubiquitous Knowledge Processing Lab is a research lab at the Department of Computer Science at the Technische Universität Darmstadt. It was founded in 2006 by Iryna Gurevych.

Knowledge extraction is the creation of knowledge from structured and unstructured sources. The resulting knowledge needs to be in a machine-readable and machine-interpretable format and must represent knowledge in a manner that facilitates inferencing. Although it is methodically similar to information extraction (NLP) and ETL, the main criterion is that the extraction result goes beyond the creation of structured information or the transformation into a relational schema. It requires either the reuse of existing formal knowledge or the generation of a schema based on the source data.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Wikidata</span> Free knowledge database project

Wikidata is a collaboratively edited multilingual knowledge graph hosted by the Wikimedia Foundation. It is a common source of open data that Wikimedia projects such as Wikipedia, and anyone else, can use under the CC0 public domain license. Wikidata is a wiki powered by the software MediaWiki, and is also powered by the set of knowledge graph MediaWiki extensions known as Wikibase.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">BabelNet</span> Multilingual semantic network and encyclopedic dictionary

BabelNet is a multilingual lexicalized semantic network and ontology developed at the NLP group of the Sapienza University of Rome. BabelNet was automatically created by linking Wikipedia to the most popular computational lexicon of the English language, WordNet. The integration is done using an automatic mapping and by filling in lexical gaps in resource-poor languages by using statistical machine translation. The result is an encyclopedic dictionary that provides concepts and named entities lexicalized in many languages and connected with large amounts of semantic relations. Additional lexicalizations and definitions are added by linking to free-license wordnets, OmegaWiki, the English Wiktionary, Wikidata, FrameNet, VerbNet and others. Similarly to WordNet, BabelNet groups words in different languages into sets of synonyms, called Babel synsets. For each Babel synset, BabelNet provides short definitions in many languages harvested from both WordNet and Wikipedia.

translatewiki.net, formerly named Betawiki, is a web-based translation platform powered by the Translate extension for MediaWiki. It can be used to translate various kinds of texts but is commonly used for creating localisations for software interfaces.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Volapük Wikipedia</span> Volapük-language edition of Wikipedia

The Volapük Wikipedia is the Volapük-language edition of the free online encyclopedia Wikipedia. It was created in February 2003, but launched in January 2004. As of 18 October 2022, it is the 108th-largest Wikipedia as measured by the number of articles, with about 32,000 articles, and the second-largest Wikipedia in a constructed language after the Esperanto Wikipedia.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Infobox</span> Template used to collect and present a subset of information about a subject

An infobox is a digital or physical table used to collect and present a subset of information about its subject, such as a document. It is a structured document containing a set of attribute–value pairs, and in Wikipedia represents a summary of information about the subject of an article. In this way, they are comparable to data tables in some aspects. When presented within the larger document it summarizes, an infobox is often presented in a sidebar format.

UBY is a large-scale lexical-semantic resource for natural language processing (NLP) developed at the Ubiquitous Knowledge Processing Lab (UKP) in the department of Computer Science of the Technische Universität Darmstadt . UBY is based on the ISO standard Lexical Markup Framework (LMF) and combines information from several expert-constructed and collaboratively constructed resources for English and German.

In natural language processing, linguistics, and neighboring fields, Linguistic Linked Open Data (LLOD) describes a method and an interdisciplinary community concerned with creating, sharing, and (re-)using language resources in accordance with Linked Data principles. The Linguistic Linked Open Data Cloud was conceived and is being maintained by the Open Linguistics Working Group (OWLG) of the Open Knowledge Foundation, but has been a point of focal activity for several W3C community groups, research projects, and infrastructure efforts since then.



  1. 1 2 Wikimedia's MediaWiki API:Sitematrix. Retrieved October2022 from Data:Wikipedia statistics/meta.tab
  2. "Wikipedia mailing list archive discussion announcing the opening of the Wiktionary project" . Retrieved May 3, 2011.
  3. Wikipedia mailing list archive discussion from Larry Sanger giving the idea on Wiktionary – Retrieved May 3, 2011
  4. https://www.wiktionary.org/ [ bare URL ]
  5. TheDaveBot Archived October 11, 2007, at the Wayback Machine , TheCheatBot Archived October 11, 2007, at the Wayback Machine , Websterbot Archived October 11, 2007, at the Wayback Machine , PastBot Archived October 11, 2007, at the Wayback Machine , NanshuBot Archived October 11, 2007, at the Wayback Machine
  6. Detailed statistics as of July 21, 2021
  7. LXbot Archived May 24, 2008, at the Wayback Machine
  8. Wiktionary statistics
  9. "Wiktionary talk:Wiktionary Logo", English Wiktionary, Wikimedia Foundation.
  10. "Wiktionary/logo/refresh/voting", Meta-Wiki, Wikimedia Foundation.
  11. phab:T139255
  12. m:Wiktionary/logo#Logo use statistics.
  13. "Wiktionary:Criteria for inclusion". Wiktionary. Retrieved March 13, 2015.
  14. 1 2 3 Wikimedia's MediaWiki API:Siteinfo. Retrieved October2022 from Data:Wikipedia statistics/data.tab
  15. "Wiktionary Statistics". Meta.Wikimedia.org . Retrieved September 11, 2020.
  16. Lepore 2006.
  17. David Brooks, "Online, interactive encyclopedia not just for geeks anymore, because everyone seems to need it now, more than ever!" The Nashua Telegraph (August 4, 2004)
  18. Kurmas 2010.
  19. Sascha & Müller-Spitzer 2016 , p. 348
  20. Meyer & Gurevych 2012, p. 140.
  21. Zesch, Müller & Gurevych 2008, p. 4, Figure 1.
  22. Meyer & Gurevych 2010, p. 40.
  23. Krizhanovsky, Transformation 2010, p. 1.
  24. Hellmann & Auer 2013, p. 302, p. 16 in PDF.
  25. Hellmann, Brekle & Auer 2012, p. 3, Table 1.
  26. DBpedia Wiktionary Archived May 4, 2013, at the Wayback Machine
  27. Hellmann, Brekle & Auer 2012, pp. 8–9.
  28. Hellmann, Brekle & Auer 2012, p. 10.
  29. Hellmann, Brekle & Auer 2012, p. 11.
  30. JWKTL
  31. Zesch, Müller & Gurevych 2008.
  32. wikokit
  33. Krizhanovsky, Transformation 2010.
  34. 1 2 Smirnov et al. 2012.
  35. Krizhanovsky, Comparison 2010.
  36. Etymological WordNet
  37. Otte & Tyers 2011.
  38. McFate & Forbus 2011.
  39. Schlippe, Ochs & Schultz 2012.
  40. Schlippe, Ochs & Schultz 2012, p. 4802.
  41. Schlippe, Ochs & Schultz 2012, p. 4804.
  42. Meyer & Gurevych 2012.
  43. http://conceptnet5.media.mit.edu [ bare URL ]
  44. Lin & Krizhanovsky 2011.
  45. Medero & Ostendorf 2009.
  46. Li, Graça & Taskar 2012.
  47. Chesley et al. 2006.
  48. "Wikidata:Wiktionary" . Retrieved October 12, 2012.


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