Proposal:Visual dictionary

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We have wiktionaries. Why not create a visual dictionary ?

Instead of providing definitions, it would provide plates and drawings. See [1], [2], [3], and [4] for examples.

These examples are in French or English. Why not make such drawings easy to translate to any language ?

Intermediate Forms would be a new wiki project that primarily runs along the side of Wikipedia. Its a new way of searching and linking objects and ideas etc. Everything is considered an intermediate form one thing to another. A web can be created using characteristics to link the forms. Characteristics may also be user defined. The web of forms will make paths between objects/forms in the web. With this type of organisation you can search for something that you don't know the name of or exactly what it is... then jump to the Wikipedia article.


Create a central deposit, much like Commons, of plates and drawings. Each one would be in SVG format, or any suitable graphic format. The part names would be filled by each language project.

I think it would be very helpful if Wiktionary would allow labelled images so that it would evolve to be a picture dictionary or a visual dictionary.

Example: a picture of zoo animals: click the French interwiki link for the same image with all the words in French, likewise for German, Spanish, Japanese etc.

A visual dictionary is a dictionary that primarily uses pictures to illustrate the meaning of words. Visual dictionaries are often organized by themes, instead of being an alphabetical list of words. For each theme, an image is labeled with the correct word to identify each component of the item in question. Visual dictionaries can be monolingual or multilingual, providing the names of items in several languages.

A picture dictionary is a dictionary that uses photos or drawings to illustrate what the headwords mean. Picture dictionaries are useful in a variety of teaching environments, such as teaching a young child about their native language, and in foreign language instruction for children and adults. Picture dictionaries are often organized by topic instead of being an alphabetic list of words.

The key benefits are that:

  • words are grouped together by theme/category; knowing one words helps discover others
  • words are illustrated
  • translation to other languages is made easy, even with very technical vocabulary (e.g. parts of a combustion engine).

Some examples: Merriam-Webster Visual Dictionary and Oxford Picture Dictionary

Each object/form will have a photo, a wikipedia link and will have a list of active charicteristics that connect it immediately to other forms. The characteristics list may be in a tree structure.

when a user creates a page for a new object/form he/she links it between other forms using the characteristics... anyone can edit the position in the web of forms/objects.


Did you ever go onto the internet and you could not find what you were searching for because you didn't know the correct vocabulary, then after an hour or so you give up?

example 1) I want to find some information on wikipedia about cake forks... infact they are called pastry forks but in my family we call them cake forks. A search for cake fork might not work, and a search for forks gives me too much information to read decipher quickly. However i do know that it looks like a normal fork and a bit like a knife. The characteristic i am considering is its physical shape, with this i could search for intermediate forms.

example 2) what was that animal i saw at Chester zoo called it was a bit like a zebra at the back but looked like a short giraffe?

example 3) I just made a rogan josh and i want to see what other dishes are similar, i can easily use the Intermediate Forms web to find out. The characteristics may be the quantity of certain ingredients or place of origin....

Many people know the name of many systems, but not necessarily each part by name. For instance, a telephone has many parts : dial, ringer, etc. What is the name of the thing you hold in your hand when speaking to someone ? A handset ?

Viewing the pictures of a system, with each part named, would fill the missing information.

Searching for information is becoming more difficult not easier, because of the amount of pages on the internet. Time is important. This new way to search will be unique to Wikimedia.

Key Questions

  • Is it possible to add features to MediaWiki to handle such a service ?
  • Why not on Wiktionary?
  • Can this be done by a category or categories at commons?

Potential Costs

  • If this service can be integrated within MediaWiki as an extension, this could be done for free by volunteers. If not, then it would be at least 100 K$.
  • After that, there would be a need to create a sublevel domain, for instance. Then, any project would set its own visual dictionary :,,, etc.


Community Discussion

Do you have a thought about this proposal? A suggestion? Discuss this proposal by going to Proposal talk:Visual dictionary.

Want to work on this proposal?

  1. HenkvD 08:31, 3 August 2010 (UTC)
  2. .. Sign your name here!