Today is Samuel Johnson’s birthday. He was the author of “A Dictionary of the English Language,” one of the most important and influential dictionaries of the English language, published in 1755.

This blog entry is in honor of Samuel Johnson, and it concerns OS 10.4 has a built-in Dictionary and Thesaurus.

There are several ways to use this feature. First, you can browse to your Application Folder and click on Dictionary. This is based on the excellent Oxford American Dictionary. You can also launch the same Dictionary and Thesaurus as a dashboard widget.

Or, you can launch the Dictionary application by right or command clicking on any word, and selecting “Look up in dictionary.”

The Dictionary application and widget allow you to look up word definitions, and cross-check you spelling.

Samuel Johnson’s dictionary was great achievement for the English language. He did include a few biased or witty entries in his great dictionary, such as:

LEXICOGRAPHER — A writer of dictionaries, a harmless drudge.

OATS — A grain which in England is generally given to horses, but in Scotland supports the people.

EXCISE — A hateful tax levied upon commodities, and adjudged not by the common judges of property, but wretches hired by those to whom excise is paid.

If you only want to check your spelling, there are several ways to do this in 10.3 or 10.4 Cocoa applications (such as Mail, Safari, or Text Edit, Stickies, Pages, Keynote or many OS 10-native third-party programs such as OmniOutliner, etc).

First, you can launch a spell checker by holding down the Command Shift Semicolon keys, all at the same time. The Command key is placed to the left of the space bar, marked with a clover-shaped symbol or the Apple logo.

This key command will allow you to go word by word through your document. I use this feature in Mail, and to spell check blog posts I make in Safari.

In Mail, you can also choose to check spelling as you type, when you click send, or never. When you choose “check spelling as you type,” the words are not corrected, only underlined with a squiggly red line.

Also, take the time to browse through every applications settings in the menu bar on the top, left side of the screen. You can often adjust your spelling preferences there.


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