Wikidata:The Surrounding Ocean

The Surrounding Ocean is a tool to browse the lexicographic data in Wikidata. It is like a dictionary tool.

The tool is available at

Denny Vrandečić developed the tool and published it in 2024.

What am I seeing? edit

The screen is split into nine rectangles, or fields. In each one there is a word (or, to be more correct, a lexeme) or several words. There is always one word in the focus of the tool, that is in the center.

Axes edit

Surrounding the central box are eight fields, along four axes.

Wider word Precedes alphabetically Words derived / made up from the focus word
Translation / synonym Focus word Translation / synonym
Words the focus word is derived / made up from Follows alphabetically Narrower word
  • │ (from top to bottom) is the alphabetical axis. Above and below the focus word are the words in the same language that precede and follow it in alphabetic order, correspondingly.
  • ─ (from left to right) is the 'axis of same meaning'. To the left and right we see words that have the same meaning as the focus word. These can be in either the same language, what is usually called a synonym, or in a different language, what is usually called a translation.
  • ╱ (from the lower left to the upper right) is the axis of etymology or compounds and their derivations. On the upper right we see words derived from or made up from the focus word. On the lower left we see words this word is derived from, or the components of this word.
  • ╲ (from the upper left to the lower right) is the axis of hierarchy or of narrower / wider. In the upper left you would find words that express a wider meaning, and on the lower right you will find words that are narrower than the given word.

Any of the fields may be missing, in which case you will see a ⛞.

You can overlay a visualization of the four axes, either by hovering over or tapping on the navigation button on the lower right (✳), or by holding the space button.

Focus word edit

If available, the central box gives the meaning(s) of the word, if possible in the user interface language. If the user interface is in English, and you are looking at a French word, the meaning should be given in English. Unless we don't have it in English, in which case we use a fallback language (in parentheses, and marked with a preceding language code). A meaning may be followed by a link to the relevant Wikipedia article.

Other elements include:

Lower right corner
The Wikidata icon that links to the page with the original data on Wikidata.
The Wiktionary icon that links to a hopefully relevant page on a Wiktionary. (Note that the actual word in that language might be missing on the Wiktionary the tool links to – this is very difficult to check.)
Lower left corner
A button to listen to the word, if available. The audio may be of a different form than the headword (e.g. of a past tense form, or of a plural form).
Upper right corner
An image that is relevant to one of the meanings of the words, if available, that links to a description of the image file on Wikimedia Commons.

What can I do? edit

You can tap or click on any of the fields in order to bring that word into the center, focusing on the new word. This will update all the surrounding fields accordingly, allowing you to continue your exploration of the vast surrounding ocean of words.

If a field contains more than one word, you can click or tap on the word you are interested in and it will switch to that particular word.

If the center word has more than one meaning, the currently focused meaning is highlighted with a bar on the side. You can click on any of the other meanings to switch over to it. This will update the hierarchical and the meaning axes accordingly.

Instead of tapping or clicking on the fields, you can also navigate using the keyboard: the letters around the key for S (WASD) or, if you have them, the numeric keypad. The cursor keys can also be used, but only along the two cardinal axis. For moving along senses, you can use the < and > keys (or + and - on the numeric keypad).

You can use the buttons ◅ and ▻ in the right and left field to switch individual translations, and go through the translations and synonyms without changing the rest.

On the lower right are a serious of buttons. From left to right:

  • The language button (文A) allows to change the user interface language. Click on it and enter the language code you want to switch to and confirm your selection by pressing ↵ Enter.
  • The question mark takes you to this documentation page.
  • The magnifying glass (🔍) opens the search. Enter the the word you are looking for, click enter, click on the result you are looking for.
  • The axis button (✳) which shows the four axes of the fields.

Why the name? edit

A page from the al-Qamus al-Muhit

One of the words I looked at while exploring with the tool was "dictionary", which also became the default starting word, and there I found that the Arabic translation قَامُوس had two meanings: dictionary and ocean.

The etymology of the word was the Greek ὠκεανός, from which also the English ocean is ultimately derived. How did that word make it into Arabic, and how did it become to mean dictionary?

In 1410, the Persian traveller and author al-Fayrūzabādī wrote a dictionary which remained the most popular Arabic dictionary for several centuries, Al-Qāmus al-Muḥīṭ, or, in English, the surrounding ocean.

I borrow the name for this tool.

I see wrong / missing data! edit

It is easy to contribute to Wikidata, particularly to the lexicographic data in Wikidata.

Unfortunately, contributions through the mobile interface are currently not possible. If you are on a mobile device, plesae switch to the desktop version to contribute.

Ideally, you first create an account. If you already have an account on any of the other Wikimedia sites, such as Wikipedia, Commons, Wiktionary, you can use that account on Wikidata.

Now, depending on where the error or missing data is, you can do the following to improve the data. Some things are very easy to fix, others less so. If you find issues not listed here, or if you have trouble fixing a specific issue, please feel free to mention that either on the talk page of this tool, on the talk page of the relevant lexeme (every Lexeme page on Wikidata has an associated talk page), or on the general talk page for lexicographic data.

(This section needs to be written) (TODO)

A word is missing edit

That word does not exist! edit

That word is written wrong edit

This word is a combination of other words, and I know which ones edit

The etymology of this word is missing edit

There is a sense / meaning missing for this word edit

There is no audio for this word edit

Wikimedia France has created a tool that makes it easy to record audio or video for words: Lingua Libre (Q60024037)

There is no image for this word edit

I know a translation for this word! edit

I know a more or less specific word for this word edit

Can I contribute to the tool? edit

Yes, please!

There are many things that can be improved. The TODO file lists a few things that can be changed, but I am sure there are more ideas.

The source code is available on Github, and you are welcome to raise issues, send pull requests, or take over the further development of the tool.

Note to people editing this page edit

I have intentionally used looser terms such as word or meaning instead of the more correct terms from the data model, such as lexeme and sense, in order to make this page potentially easier to read for a wider audience.

References edit