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It’s 11 p.m. on a Tuesday night. You are sitting in a hotel room in Des Moines, preparing to depose the opposition’s key expert witness the following morning. You are reading through the latest reports which you just received that morning.
Suddenly you realize that you don’t have a clue what exactly he is talking about, but he says it killed the plaintiff. The word he is using is not in your pocket Webster’s and it is not likely that you will find a good research library open nearby at this time of night.
The solution to such problems has been provided by Robert K. Ware, developer of the award-winning OneLook Dictionary (www.onelook.com). Among its many awards is a designation by Yahoo as one of the 50 most useful sites on the Internet.
OneLook Dictionary is a specialized search engine which performs a search on nearly 400 dictionaries containing 2 million words. Just type in the word you are looking for, and it will search for any dictionaries containing the word. You then click on the appropriate dictionary to read the definition.
The site also lists the dictionaries it indexes grouped by subject. You can go to this section of the site and access any of the dictionaries. While you may never use the dictionaries on Basic Chaucer or woodblock printing terminology, you may find it useful to review the terms in the diabetes, prostate, aviation or derivative financial instruments glossaries before deposing an expert on those subjects. Or you may want to check out any of the dozen slang dictionaries listed so you can figure out what your kids are saying.
Meanwhile, Back in Des Moines
So, you connect your laptop to the jack in your hotel room, go to www.onelook.com, and quickly find out what the report is saying. Maybe you’ll still find that the expert is speaking gibberish, but at least you’ll know for certain that it is gibberish and not your own lack of understanding of the terminology being used.