wnb() provides a window-based interface for browsing the WordNet data-
base, allowing synsets and relations to be displayed as formatted text.
For each search word, different searches are available based on syntac-
tic category and information available in the database.
wnb is written in Tcl/Tk, which is available for Unix and Windows plat-
forms. This allows the same code to work on all supported WordNet
platforms without modification.
wnb() was developed with the philosophy that only those searches and
buttons that are applicable at the current time are displayed. As a
result, the appearance of the interface changes as it is used. Use the
standard windowing system mouse functions to open and close the WordNet
Browser Window, move the window, and change its size.
The WordNet Browser Window contains the following areas, from top to
Menubar A menubar runs along the top of the browser window
with pulldown menus and button entitled File, His-
tory, Options, and Help.
Search Word Entry Below the Menubar is a line for entering the search
word. A search word can be a single word, hyphen-
ated string, or a collocation. Case is ignored.
Although only uninflected forms of words are usu-
ally stored in WordNet, users may search for
inflected forms. WordNet's morphological processor
finds the base form automatically.
Search Selection Below the Search Word Entry line is an area for
selecting the search type and senses to search.
Until a search word is entered this area is blank.
After a search word is entered, buttons appear cor-
responding to each syntactic category (Noun, Verb,
Adjective, Adverb) in which the search string is
defined in WordNet.
At the right edge of the Search Selection line is a
box for entering sense numbers. When this box is
empty, search results for all senses of the search
word that match the search type are displayed. The
search may be restricted to one or more specific
senses by entering a comma or space separated list
of sense numbers in the Senses box. These sense
numbers remain in effect until either the user
changes or deletes them, or a new search word is
not in WordNet, the message "Sorry, no matches
found." is displayed.
SEARCHING THE DATABASE
The WordNet browser navigates through WordNet in two steps. First a
search word is entered and an overview of all the senses of the word in
all syntactic categories is displayed in the Results Window. The
senses are grouped by syntactic category, and each synset is annotated
as described above with synset_offset, lex_filename, and sense_number
as dictated by the advanced search options set. The overview search
also indicates how many of the senses in each syntactic category are
represented in the tagged texts. This is a way for the user to deter-
mine whether a sense's sense number is based on semantic tagging data,
or was arbitrarily assigned. For each sense that has appeared in such
texts, the number of semantic tags to that sense are indicated in
parentheses after the sense number.
Then, within a syntactic category, a specific search is selected. The
desired search is performed and the search results are displayed in the
Results Window. Additional searches on the same word can be performed,
or a new search word can be entered.
To enter a search word, click the mouse in the horizontal box labeled
Search Word, type a single word, hyphenated string, or collocation and
wnb() responds by making a set of Part of Speech buttons appear in the
Search Selection line. Each button corresponds to a syntactic category
in which the search string is defined in WordNet. At the same time, an
Overview of the synsets for all senses of the search word is displayed
in the Results Window. The Overview includes the gloss for each synset
and also indicates which of the senses have appeared in the semanti-
cally tagged texts. For each sense that has appeared in such texts,
the number of semantic tags to that sense are indicated in parentheses
after the sense number.
The pulldown menus in the Search Selection line list all of the WordNet
searches that can be performed for the search word in that part of
speech. To select a search, highlight it by dragging the mouse to it,
and release the mouse while it is highlighted. Drag the mouse outside
of the pulldown list and release to hide the menu without making a
selection. Dragging the mouse across the Part of Speech buttons dis-
plays the available searches for each syntactic category.
To restrict a search to one or more senses within a syntactic category,
enter a comma or space separated list of sense numbers in the Senses
box before selecting a search.
After a search is selected, wnb() performs the search on the WordNet
database and displays the formatted results in the Results Window.
Whenever search results are displayed, a button entitled Redisplay
Overview is present at the right edge of the Search Word Entry line.
Clicking on this button redisplays the Overview of all synsets for the
search word in the Results Window.
and the overview for that word will automatically be displayed.
To select a new search string collocation from text in the Results Win-
dow, highlight the text with the mouse and press CONTROL-S.
Interrupting a Search
When a search is in progress the message "Searching...(press escape to
abort)" is displayed in the Status Line. Note that most searches
return very quickly, so this message isn't noticeable. As indicated,
pressing the ESCAPE key will interrupt the search. The results of the
search obtained before the time the search was interrupted are dis-
played in the Results Window.
Find keywords by substring
Display a popup window for specifying a search of WordNet
for words or collocations that contain a specific sub-
string. If a search word is currently entered in the
Search Word box, it is used as the substring to search
for by default. The Substring Search Window contains a
box for entering a substring, a pulldown menu to its
right for specifying the part of speech to search, a
large area for displaying the search results, and action
buttons at the bottom entitled Search, Save, Print Dis-
Once a substring is entered and a part of speech
selected, clicking on the Search button causes a search
to be done for all words and collocations in WordNet, in
that syntactic category, that contain the substring
according to the following criteria:
1. The substring can appear at the beginning or end of a
word, hyphenated string o collocation.
2. The substring can appear in the middle of a hyphenated
string or collocation, but only delimited on both sides
by spaces or hyphens.
The search results are displayed in the large buffer.
Clicking on an item from the search results list causes
wnb() to automatically enter that word in the Search Word
box of the WordNet Browser Window and perform the Over-
Clicking the Save button generates a popup dialog for
specifying a filename to save the substring search
results to. Clicking the Print button generates a popup
dialog in which a print command can be specified.
Selecting Dismiss closes the Substring Search Window.
Exit Does what you would expect.
This pulldown menu contains a list of the last searches performed.
Selecting an item from this list performs that search again. The maxi-
mum number of searches stored in the list can be adjusted from the
Options menu. The default is 10.
Show help with each search
When this checkbox is selected search results are pre-
ceded by some explanatory text about the type of search
selected. This is off by default.
Show descriptive gloss
When this checkbox is selected, synset glosses are dis-
played in all search results. This is set by default.
Note that glosses are always displayed in the Overview.
When this checkbox is selected, lines in the Results Win-
dow that are wider than the window are automatically
wrapped. This is set by default. If not selected, a
horizontal scroll bar is present if any lines are longer
than the width of the window.
Set advanced search options...
Selecting this item displays a popup window for setting
the following search options: Lexical file information;
Synset location in database file; Sense number. Choices
for each are:
Don't show (default)
Show with searches
Show with searches and overview
When lexical file information is shown, the name of the
lexicographer file is printed before each synset,
enclosed in angle brackets (< ... >). When both lexi-
cal file information and synset location information are
displayed, the synset location information appears first.
If within one lexicographer file more than one sense of a
word is entered, an integer lex_id is appended onto all
but one of the word's instances to uniquely identify it.
In each synset, each word having a non-zero lex_id is
printed with the lex_id value printed immediately follow-
ing the word. If both lexicographer information and
sense numbers are displayed, lex_ids, if present, precede
When synset location is shown, the byte offset of the
synset in the database "data" file corresponding to the
previous searches to be kept on the History list can be
Display a popup window for setting the font (typeface)
and font size to use for the Results Window. Choices for
typeface are: Courier, Helvetica, and Times (default).
Font size can be small, medium (default), or large.
Save current options as default
Save the currently set options. Next time the browser is
started, these options will be used as the user defaults.
Help on using the WordNet browser
Display this manual page.
Help on WordNet terminology
Display the wngloss(7WN) manual page.
Display the WordNet license
Display the WordNet copyright notice and license agree-
About the WordNet browser
Information about this application.
Clicking on any word in the Results Window while holding down the SHIFT
key on the keyboard causes the browser to replace Search Word with the
word and display its Overview and available searches. Clicking on any
word in the Results Window with the middle mouse button does the same
Pressing the CONTROL-S keys causes the browser to do as above on the
text that is currently highlighted. Under Unix, this will work even if
the highlighted text is in another window. This works on hyphenated
strings and collocations, as well as individual words.
Pressing the CONTROL-G keys displays the Substring Search Window.
The results of a search of the WordNet database are displayed in the
Results Window. Horizontal and vertical scroll bars are present for
scrolling through the search results.
All searches other than the Overview list all senses matching the
search results in the following general format. Items enclosed in
italicized square brackets ([ ... ]) may not be present.
If a search cannot be performed on some senses of searchstr, the search
results are headed by a string of the form:
X of Y senses of searchstr
cographer file that the synset comes from, word1 is the first
word in the synset (note that this is not necessarily the search
word) and sense_number is the WordNet sense number assigned to
the preceding word. synset_offset, lex_filename, and sense_num-
ber are generated if the appropriate Options are specified.
The synsets matching the search selected are printed below each
sense's synset output described above. Each line of output is
preceded by a marker (usually =>), then a synset, formatted as
described above. If a search traverses more one level of the
tree, then successive lines are indented by spaces corresponding
to its level in the hierarchy. Glosses are displayed in paren-
theses at the end of each synset if the appropriate Option is
set. Each synset is printed on one line.
Senses are ordered from most to least frequently used, with the
most common sense numbered 1. Frequency of use is determined by
the number of times a sense is tagged in the various semantic
concordance texts. Senses that are not semantically tagged fol-
low the ordered senses. Note that this ordering is only an esti-
mate based on usage in a small corpus.
Verb senses can be grouped by similarity of meaning, rather than
ordered by frequency of use. When the "Synonyms, grouped by
similarity" search is selected, senses that are close in meaning
are printed together, with a line of dashes indicating the end
of a group. See wngroups(7WN) for a discussion how senses are
The output of the "Derivationally Related Forms" search shows
word forms that are morphologically related to searchstr. Each
word form pointed to from searchstr is displayed, preceded by
RELATED TO-> and the syntactic category of the link, followed,
on the next line, by its synset. Printed after the word form is
#n where n indicates the WordNet sense number of the term
The "Domain" and "Domain Terms" searches show the domain that a
synset has been classified in and, conversely, all of the terms
that have been assigned to a specific domain. A domain is
either a TOPIC, REGION or USAGE, as reflected in the specific
pointer character stored in the database, and displayed in the
output. A Domain search on a term shows the domain, if any,
that each synset containing searchstr has been classified in.
The output display shows the domain type (TOPIC, REGION or
USAGE), followed by the syntactic category of the domain synset
and the terms in the synset. Each term is followed by #n where
n indicates the WordNet sense number of the term. The converse
search, Domain Terms, shows all of the synsets that have been
placed into the domain searchstr, with analogous markers.
When the "Sentence Frames" search is specified, sample illustra-
tive sentences and generic sentence frames are displayed. If a
sample sentence is found, the base form of the search word is
adjective in relation to the noun may be restricted to the
prenominal, postnominal or predicative position. Where present,
these restrictions are noted in parentheses.
When an adjective is a participle of a verb, the output indi-
cates the verb and displays its synset.
When an adverb is derived from an adjective, the specific adjec-
tival sense on which it is based is indicated.
The morphological transformations performed by the search code
may result in more than one word to search for. wnb() automati-
cally performs the requested search on all of the strings and
returns the results grouped by word. For example, the verb saw
is both the present tense of saw and the past tense of see.
When there is more than one word to search for, search results
are grouped by word.
If the WordNet database files cannot be opened, error messages are dis-
played. This is usually corrected by setting the environment variables
described below to the proper location of the WordNet database for your
ENVIRONMENT VARIABLES (UNIX)
WNHOME Base directory for WordNet. Default is
WNSEARCHDIR Directory in which the WordNet database has been
installed. Default is WNHOME/dict.
Base directory for WordNet. Default is C:\Pro-
User's default browser options.
index.pos database index files
data.pos database data files
*.vrb files of sentences illustrating the use of verbs
pos.exc morphology exception lists
wnintro(1WN), wn(1WN), wnintro(3WN), lexnames(5WN), senseidx(5WN),
wndb(5WN), wninput(5WN), morphy(7WN), wngloss(7WN), wngroups(7WN).
Please reports bugs to firstname.lastname@example.org.
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