Friday, November 11, 2022

Wordsmithing with Emacs

The first external dependency I install when setting up Emacs in a new environment is aspell. I do this because I use M-$ so routinely. M-$ kicks off ispell-word, which launches a mini-spell checker. I use this frequently when coding to verify the spelling of variables and comments. And naturally, I use it while blogging. Heck, I've used it at least five times in the process of editing this very paragraph.

Given my appreciation for spell checking in Emacs, it's a bit of a surprise that it's taken me nearly two decades to I even considered installing a related package: dictionary definition lookup.

I finally noticed that I was popping over to Google and to either verify word meaning or to hunt for synonyms with an alarming degree of regularity. It was past due to move this functionality into Emacs.

After searching, I settled on two packages: define-word and powerthesaurus. Both were trivial to install using M-x package-install.

define-word is simple, yet effective and I've found it has become my go to for all things dictionary related. I've bound it to M-$'s neighboring key, M-#. Whenever I want to verify the meaning of a word or look for related terms, I'm only a key press away from this information.

(global-set-key (kbd "M-#") 'define-word-at-point)

powerthesaurus is a bit more sophisticated, providing me with an exhaustive list of synonyms using M-x powerthesaurus-lookup-synonyms-dwim.

These packages have quickly become must haves. Without them I'd be lost, bewildered, confused, disoriented, adrift, baffled, mazed*, befuddled and perplexed.

Is mazed really a word, and if so, does it make sense in this context? define-word assures me it is and it does:

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