Where can I search for words using descriptive sentences? For example, now I'm looking for a word meaning "to purify (by hand) a quantity of grain and take away anything that isn't good grain."

How could I get words like that? I know it in my first-language, but I don't have a classic version of it to use in automatic translators.

Maybe a search engine that uses content words from my description and offers words that could mean the same with their dictionary definitions. Nothing I'd tried in (translate.)google.com gave me the desired result.


An example dictionary that I use is (Oxford's Word-Power Dictionary). It's not for the purpose of the question but for clarification.

Oxford's has a 3,000 word list of 'bare-bone-essentials.' It contains the most-used words in English and all of the grammatical operators. Ideally, these are the words necessary for a learner to use an English-English dictionary such as Oxford's. The descriptions of words in Oxford's rely on this list for definitions.

An electronic (web-based) dictionary for word-meaning-search should have a larger list (maybe 10,000) and use a thesaurus to down-level difficult words a user may use in the search then, using all content words in the search phrase, present a list of words whose definitions seem appropriate. Another regular dictionary may be used from there.

  • Example:

    Search query: "to use hands to purify a quantity of grain taking away anything that isn't good grain."

    Content Words: "use-hands; purify; quantity-of-grain; taking-away; anything; isn't; good-grain"

    Filtered: "use-hands; clean; quantity-of-seeds; take-away;anything; not-good-grain"

    Words: "1; 2; 3; 4" that use the content words to varying degrees.

And that's a five minutes' work!

PS. Sorry about the delay; connection problems...

  • I Googled "idiom for" plus the key part of your definition and the first link was "winnow". Phrases (as opposed to words) are often idioms, and (as you probably found) "definition" doesn't give good results, so maybe this pattern works more broadly? (I haven't tried other phrases.) Apr 25, 2012 at 15:17
  • I think this belongs on English, they could probably provide better answers than we could here. Have asked them if they'll take it. Apr 25, 2012 at 15:37
  • Heard back from them, they've already had a similar question there that was closed as a dupe. Let's leave this here for now. Apr 25, 2012 at 15:45
  • Sorry for the delay. Yes, I'd already seen that question. I guess I'll wait with you...
    – Mussri
    Apr 25, 2012 at 19:39
  • 1
    I use OneLook Reverse Dictionary, so I won't post that answer again, but I think the word you want is "cull" or "glean."
    – Kit Z. Fox
    Apr 26, 2012 at 0:23

3 Answers 3


Does the OneLook Reverse Dictionary work for this? You still need to winnow down your search phrase, but it might work. (Information from this answer.)

However, good ol' Google will sometimes do this as well; just type in "word that means" and the rest of a short phrase. For example, here's the search phrase "Word that means separating wheat from chaff". The first search result is "winnow", which may or may not be the word you're looking for.

  • Nice job! Dang, that's close. "Winnow" can be used in other contexts and metaphorically, and I don't know whether the OP needs a literal or metaphorical translation. Apr 25, 2012 at 16:41
  • 2
    Google knows all. Google sees all. :) Apr 25, 2012 at 17:01

Some of the websites mentioned here can help you to find one word for a complete sentence or a phrase. Please have a look at them :

1) http://www.vedicaptitude.com/?page_id=87

2) http://targetstudy.com/one-word-substitution/

and more...


It's a phrase in English, not a word: "Separating the wheat from the chaff."

  • In Arabic (colloquial Arabic, at least), we have "ju'naq:I:" to mean this sentence I wrote in the title. So what about the rest of the question?
    – Mussri
    Apr 25, 2012 at 10:26
  • 1
    Sorry, don't know about that part. :) That'd be a helluva dictionary, though. Apr 25, 2012 at 10:28
  • Not if it was electronic :D . Well, we can wait for others...
    – Mussri
    Apr 25, 2012 at 10:46
  • No, even if it were electronic -- it would be a staggering undertaking to create a database of "this word means this entire phrase or concept," and then doubly so across languages. Apr 25, 2012 at 11:32
  • It'd actually be quite simple and I'd be shocked if indeed no one had done it... See the upcoming update for clarification...
    – Mussri
    Apr 25, 2012 at 11:34

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