The Battle of the Scientific Dictionary

Last week I did something crazy. I dowloaded a SIX HUNDRED THOUSAND word dictionary to my computer. Why?

Ok, I’m sitting down to write my prac report on transpiration and photosynthesis in plants. Got a cup of coffee and some data and a textbook chapter to refer to, so time to type up the introduction.

“Water follows either an apoplastic or symplastic route across the Casparian strip to pass into xylem vessels within vascular bundles….”

Ever had this problem? It seems that every second word you type is identified by your wonderful friend Microsoft Office Word as incorrect. You’ve probably turned off autocorrect because it “helpfully changes” the word ethanal to ethanol! Or it just comes up with suggestions, because maybe I actually didn’t mean to spell metabisulphite that way! Who knows? And then sometimes you encounter the crowning insult, “hydroxyethanesulphonate- no spelling suggestions”.


This has been a problem since late high school … it’s simply that no inbuilt dictionary has all the taxonomic names of all the bacteria (now that’s true discrimination). But, as I didn’t really feel like thoroughly getting into my work at that point, I performed a quick Google search, ‘can I download a science dictionary to office word’.

And 10 minutes later, I had a 664,857 word dictionary added to my computer, downloaded for free because of this wonderful person’s generosity for the minority of us who don’t think our computers are good enough as is!

But 664,857 words is a truly incredible number. Just how big is it?

  • The average person’s vocabulary is 60,000 words
  • A novel is generally between 70-000 and 100,000
  • Campbell’s Biology, my bio textbook, has 450,000 words

And now I’ve got even more words than all of those combined on my new computer dictionary!


But realistically, it’s helping so much already. It gets rid of heaps of distracting red, underlined words and (much as I hate to admit it) did pick up on the fact that I do every once and a while misspell science words! It means that if I have a typo, it can be easily picked up, rather than my just ignoring it as ‘another word that the dictionary doesn’t know’.

So if you’re studying or working in science, I would so highly recommend downloading this from here! And cause it’s free, you can afford it on a student budget!

And one other tip if you’re studying science or math and have to type stuff up on your computer, download a Greek keyboard to your computer. This one means that when I have to use lovely symbols: λ, θ, φ, α, β, γ etc… all I have to do is click to switch keyboards and then type normally, rather than entering the dread “equation mode” in office word for every single variable!


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s