Questions About the Dictionary of Computing

How do I look something up?

To look up a term in the dictionary, enter it in the text input box at the top of any page and click on the Search button. On most browsers you can just type your term and press the Enter key.

What is the search syntax?

There is no special syntax for search strings - no quotation marks, Boolean operators, + or -. Case and punctuation is generally irrelevant. Just enter the term as you would expect it to be written.

How can I suggest a change to a definition?

Fill in the comment form below the definition.

How can I send in a new definition?

Fill in the comment form at the bottom of this page.

What do the buttons at the top of the page do?

Clicking on the FOLDOC logo will return you to the dictionary's home page.
This takes you to the contents page which contains links to information about the dictionary, other ways to browse it and various subsets of terms - by subject area and first letter.
The help button brings you to this page.
Takes you to a different randomly selected definition each time.
Looks up the text you have entered in the box to the left of the button.

How do I create a shortcut to search the dictionary?

See here.

How do I get a copy of the dictionary?

You can download the dictionary or the whole website. See here.

Can I get it on paper?

Not sensibly. The dictionary currently contains 764,861 words, which would be nearly 2000 sides of A4.

How should I refer/link to it in my own publication?

Feel free to create links to the dictionary home page, or definitions, from your own pages. I would be interested to hear about references from popular sites or print media, or about new ways of using FOLDOC.

Links in HTML should look like:

<a href="">The Free On-line Dictionary of Computing</a>,
Editor Denis Howe
Refererences from other media:
The Free On-line Dictionary of Computing
URL:, Editor Denis Howe
For BibTeXnicians (thanks to Jens Troeger):
  title   = {Free Online Dictionary of Computing},
  author  = {Denis Howe},
  address = {}

How does it work?

See here.

What does ... mean? There's no definition of ...

I'm afraid there will always be many undefined terms. I use my time to add the most frequently requested missing terms first.

How do I fix ...? Where can I find ...?

Please enter requests for help on fixing your PC, homework assignments or Windoze error messages you don't understand in the comment box below. I will respond in my copious spare time.

A cross-reference goes nowhere

Cross-references (hyperlinks which take you from a word in one FOLDOC definition to the FOLDOC definition of that word) work just like the searches you type in. This means they can sometimes fail because the linked word is not found.

"Why link it then?", you may ask. To see how many people try to follow it. Bad cross-references (just like other searches) get added to the list of frequently requested missing terms each time someone tries to follow one. This allows me to see either that the link was really bad (e.g. mistyped), or that it is worth adding a new definition.

"Why don't you just fix them all?", you now ask. Because there are a lot and I don't have time. This way I can spend my time on the ones most people want.

So, please don't tell me if a cross-reference goes nowhere or returns "not found" (unless it is obviously mis-spelled). I already know and will fix it eventually.

A link to another site is bad

If the broken link was not a cross-reference within the dictionary but a link to a different web site, please do let me know so I can fix it. If you can suggest where it should point, that would be even better.

If you get an error like "host unknown" or "host unavailable" this may indicate a temporary problem so, if possible, please try again after an hour or next day before reporting it as a bad link.

A cross-reference or search for ... goes somewhere odd

A cross-reference or search may occasionally take you to some completely unrelated entry because the exact term was not found but a partial match was. Please do let me know if this happens, giving details in the comment form on the relevant page or below.

How can I contact you?

Please use the comment form on any page. Remember to give your e-mail address if you want a reply!