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Define: Command Line

06 Nov 2014 - San Francisco | 408 words

If you didn’t know, Google has a really useful search feature that allows you to find the definition of any word or phrase when using the define: prefix on your search term. This along with the built-in OSX dictionary provides an incredibly useful set of tools to find any definition as quickly as possible.

However, if you’re a terminal junkie like me, you spend a lot of time on the command line. Sometimes you just need a definition at that instant and can’t be bothered to switch to another window to find it. Or perhaps you have a list of words you’d like to quickly grep and find definitions. This is where sdvc comes in.

What is sdcv? And how do I get it?

sdcv is a console version of StarDict, an open source utility used to access dictionary files in multiple languages using a common dictionary file format.

The nature of the utility also allows you to download multiple dictionaries to cull through. These dictionaries can range from English dictionaries to dictionaries of hacker jargon, all searchable from the command line. Sound interesting? To install this utility, assuming you already have homebrew installed, all you need to do is:

brew install sdcv

Unfortunately, the default installation doesn’t come with any dictionaries. Go ahead and choose the necessary dictionaries you may need or find useful. Dictionaries should be placed under /usr/share/stardict/dic to ensure sdcv can detect it.

Adding an alias for the define command

Now that you have sdcv installed, why use and remember an obscure name to query your definitions. I added the following to my .bash_profile to define (hah) a function that will call sdcv with some good defaults with whatever word or phrase I pass to it.

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define () {
# Check if sdcv is installed
if command -v sdcv > /dev/null; then
# -0 show UTF-8 output
# -c show colorized output
sdcv -0c "$@"
else
echo "You need to install sdcv."
fi
}