User Submitted Macro

Define Word Take 5

Written by Marshall Gatten and Kevin Heaton

What it does

This is the fifth revision to the popular Define Word macro. This macro uses Macro Express and your Internet connection to look up the definition of any highlighted word at a number of online dictionaries.

Marshall says “Previous versions were great, but they replaced the contents of your clipboard with the word you are looking up. This version keeps your clipboard intact by copying its contents to a variable before overwriting it, and then restoring the contents of that variable back to the clipboard when the Macro is finished. This version also uses a slightly different – and, in my opinion, slightly better – list of reference sites.”

Define Word Take 5 was submitted by Marshall Gatten. Kevin Heaton, of Insight Software Solutions, made additional changes to improve the performance and to allow it to work with whatever browser you have set as your default.

To install

Download either Macro Express 3 or Macro Express Pro version of the macro file and save it on your hard drive. Open this macro file or import the macro into your existing macro file by clicking File, Import, Import Macros.

Define Word Take 5 – for Macro Express 3umdefinewordtake5me3.mex
Define Word Take 5 – for Macro Express Proumdefinewordtake5.mex

To use

Highlight a word and press Ctrl+/.

How it works

As originally submitted, this macro only supported Internet Explorer. In 2007 Michael Stevens submitted Define Word Revision 4 that contained support for both IE and Firefox. Now, with the growing popularity of alternate browsers, this version supports any browser you have set as your default.

Define Word Take 5 examines your registry to determine which browser is set as default. It has been tested with the 5 most popular browsers today: IE, Firefox, Opera, Chrome and Safari. However, it should also work with other browsers that are available now or will be in the future.

Testing with various browsers revealed a dramatic difference in how quickly each responds to requests for a new web page. Some do not require any delay between each new page request while others require up to a 2 second pause. To determine the optimum delay times, tests were performed on multiple computers with Windows 7 (64 bit), Windows Vista (32 bit) and Windows XP Professional. You may need to adjust these delays for your computer. The section that defines these delays is well marked in the macro.

As a result of this optimization, loading dictionary pages in Firefox is much faster than previous versions of this macro. If you are using Internet Explorer, however, you will not see as much speed improvement.

If your browser supports it, this macro puts each result in a separate tab. As written, it opens 9 tabs, each to a different online dictionary or thesaurus. The number of sites can easily be modified. You may want to pick your favorite 3 or 4.


Submitted by

Marshall Gatten & Kevin Heaton
Michael Stevens
Martin and Rada Shapiro
Lance Neustaeter
Mark Bender

Date published

February 1, 2010
June 25, 2007
May 4, 2006
July 7, 2003
March 12, 2001

Studying the revisions made by each submitter is instructive and can inspire improvements in other macros.


Written for Macro Express 3 or Macro Express Pro.
This macro will work with whatever browser is set as your default. It has been tested with Internet Explorer, Firefox, Opera, Safari and Chrome.

** Marshal wins a Macro Express T-shirt for submitting a macro that we published.