How often do you come across words that you don’t know the meaning of while reading online? Do you stop and look up the definition of the mystery word in the dictionary app, search online, or just guess the word’s meaning based on the context within which the word is used?

If you are anything like me, you are much more inclined to look up the definition of a word if it’s easy to do so. Here’s a completely frictionless way of finding out the meaning or words with one swift key move.

Command-Control-D on theMac  keyboard

Look up the definition of any word easily with Control-Command-D

What’s that word mean?

Place the cursor over the word in question and then hold down the D keys. A small window then pops up with the dictionary definition of the word as well as the thesaurus and entires from Wikipedia.

Dictionary Definition

Expand your vocabulary and writing style

This literary tip is not only useful for finding the meaning of words while reading, it can also be very beneficial while writing. Sometimes when I’m writing an article I find myself repeating the same words. Not wanting to bore my readers to sleep, when I do find myself repeating a word I’ll use the D shortcut on the word to bring up the thesaurus. From there I can use one of the suggested synonyms or click to open the thesaurus for a more detailed list of options to substitute the word with another with the same meaning.

Exceptions to the rule

Unfortunately, this tip doesn’t automatically work with all apps. Trying to use this keyboard shortcut to define words while using the Chrome browser for the first time, for example, I found that it didn’t work.

There is a fix for this!

Go to System Preferances / Keyboard / Shortcuts / Services and scroll down to the “Searching” section and look for the first entry there: “Look Up in Dictionary”.


There I noticed that by default, the “Look up in Dictionary” service had no keyboard shortcut set for it, it’s a wonder it was working in any apps. So the solution is to add the shortcut manually so that it applies to all apps.

You can choose any key combination you like. I personally prefer the D so I have set it to use that.

System Settings Dictionary Lookup

After doing so the keyboard shortcut works system-wide, and should now work on all apps.

Now you can expand your vocabulary while you read by effortlessly giving definition to the undefined.

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