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New York Times ReferenceI was reading the latest about Sanjaya on the New York Times’ site and accidentally stumbled on a little-known feature:

Double-click on any word in an article, and voila! A new window appears with a dictionary, thesaurus, or encyclopedia entry about the word.

The Times does explain this little trick, but it’s buried all the way at the bottom of every article below a bunch of ads. It’s very easy to miss, but now you know.

It works in most browsers, but I couldn’t get it to work in Safari. Sorry, Steve.


  • Jen

    gravatarApr 24, 2007
    7:32 am

    In Safari you can highlight any word on any web page, ctrl-click and get the option to launch the Mac dictionary. That generally does the trick, and you don’t have be online either. Thanks, Steve. ;)

  • Jack Cheng

    gravatarApr 24, 2007
    7:56 am

    I hate hate hate this! I have a habit of highlighting and double-clicking lines or words as I read long text (I’d like to think that it helps me concentrate, but who knows if it really does). Every time I read a NYT article, the window will pop up multiple times and annoy the crap out of me. Am I the only one who does this?

  • mph

    gravatarApr 24, 2007
    8:23 am

    No, Jack, I do the same thing, and this NY Times behavior drives me crazy.

  • metroburb

    gravatarApr 24, 2007
    10:57 am

    Yahoo does it too. Sometimes I pass my mouse over the spot to get to somewhere else, and the pop-up definitions or advertisements detract me from where I was going. Not good.

  • Frank

    gravatarApr 24, 2007
    11:17 am

    In all coco applications on OS X if you hold down” control+apple+D” over a word you get a cute little dictionary entry which can easily also become a thesaurus …

  • Charles Wilson

    gravatarApr 25, 2007
    1:24 am

    Sounds like a really cool action for those who need the extra help reading? But I think some words should be directed to wiki, especially names of famous leaders, places or event in history.

    Issue is what is next? Will the double click action direct us to advertisers?


    gravatarApr 27, 2007
    12:54 am

    Right I too discovered this (by double clicking) while reading a book review – trying to understand the meaning of a word …

  • Jo

    gravatarMay 2, 2007
    10:17 pm

    To Jack and mph:

    Deal with it. Besides, if you really can’t help highlighting, just don’t click on a word twice. It’s not that hard. I have the same habit, because it does help me concentrate on what line I’m reading. However, if you can’t focus on a line in the passage without highlighting, go to your concentration therapist and ask for further advices.

  • mrbene

    gravatarMay 4, 2007
    12:13 am

    Jack and mph, I heartily agree that it’s annoying. It’s caused by the “altClickToSearch.js” script called by the nytimes.com pages, you can prevent it from running using NoScript or adBlock Plus for Firefox.

    metroburb is describing what Charles Wilson fears – there are currently advertisements that dynamically attach to keywords in articles, which means different words may be highlighted each time to you load the page. One clearinghouse for this type of ads is IntelliTXT at http://www.intellitxt.com.

  • Brian Carnell

    gravatarMay 4, 2007
    5:28 pm

    agreed…seen a couple other sites using this and it is extremely annoying.